Signs of life reemerge in 2021


For the second year in a row, it’s going to be a bit of a challenge for those of us whose year-end letter-writing ritual consists of composing a thoughtful message – instead of relying on social media – to convey our best wishes to our friends and family members, while also getting them caught up on our lives.

That’s because, even though vaccines have allowed many of us to more or less resume our normal activities, travel hasn’t necessarily been included in this crawl to normalcy, thanks to a dizzying array of restrictions at various destinations. For example, it would not have been easy for me to visit my relatives in Canada this past summer.

Nonetheless, I managed to be more social in 2021 than in 2020, which has enabled me to pen a somewhat more interesting family newsletter early enough to send it to those whose holiday celebrations began with Thanksgiving or, just three days later, Hanukkah.

I’m sharing the essence of that newsletter here in hopes of making you laugh, since the old adage that “laughter is the best medicine” has never been truer.

I’m also sticking with a Top 10 format, which worked out well last year, even though there was barely anything interesting to write about as most of the year seemed straight out of an old episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

So, here’s 2021’s Top 10, titled, “Escape from ‘The Twilight Zone’ (sort of) …”:

  1. Shots provide a big boost: We’re fully vaccinated and got our boosters. It has given us the confidence to venture out more than we did in 2020, and to see people we sorely missed.
  2. On the run again: Among the things that being vaccinated empowered me to do was to return to actual road races, as opposed to the virtual kind. I ran the Arnold Mills Road Race, in Cumberland, on the Fourth of July; a 5K to benefit a hospice in August; and another 5K, in late September, to help a Cumberland farm. It felt liberating to once again run with others – even if my times showed the ravages of my 69 years.
  3. Relay For Life: Volunteering for the Relay For Life of Greater Attleboro, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, was particularly satisfying this year as we had two in-person events in June (after a year of mostly virtual experiences). During the run-up to the events, I filmed a couple of spots on local cable TV, and, if you’re battling insomnia, I’d be happy to send you the links.
  4. Sports: Even though I decided against returning to Fenway Park to cheer on the Red Sox, seeing fans back at the ballpark made watching the games much more enjoyable, especially during the playoffs.
  5. Dinner with others: We enjoyed family dinners celebrating birthdays, and, in October, Lynne and I treated ourselves to an anniversary dinner at a restaurant at Patriot Place, in Foxboro, in the shadow of Gillette Stadium. The stadium is the same place where, in February and March, Lynne got vaccinated, and where, in March and April, I accompanied a friend for his vaccinations.
  6. Friends: Both Lynne and I were pleased to see more people this year, some of whom we hadn’t seen in person since the pandemic started. I continued having picnic lunches with friends in the spring and summer, but by fall, I started meeting them in restaurants that weren’t crowded. It was just another baby step toward normalcy.
  7. Arianna: Our older daughter is still teaching in Revere, and moved to Malden, both in Massachusetts. She also ran a decent half-marathon in New Hampshire in the fall and has her sights set on running a marathon in the future.
  8. Alana: Our younger daughter is halfway through her junior year at Johnson & Wales University, in Providence, where she’s majoring in culinary arts and sports nutrition. She’s investigating some intriguing internships for her senior year. She is also a runner, and joined me at the two summer races. She won her age group in the 5K race, thanks to her blazing speed, which left her white-haired dad in the dust.
  9. Lynne: She’s still working part time as a speech language pathologist, which left her plenty of time to spearhead some major house projects: new windows, repaving the driveway, new blinds and curtains, and bringing in a trainer to help calm down our stubborn and noisy dog Buddy.
  10. Our message to you: We wish you a new year full of hope, and a year full of worry-free travel, where your concerns won’t include wondering whether a fellow passenger will assault a flight attendant over wearing masks. We wish you a future where we’ve achieved herd immunity, so we can all live without worrying about a lethal virus threatening our lives. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Festivus, be healthy and safe, so you can enjoy only simchot in 2022

L’chaim, my friends.

LARRY KESSLER ( is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at