This year has been raining lemons. It started with much hope but took a turn for the worse very quickly.
The announcement of the movement control order in March initially put a smile on many faces as they started packing to balik kampung.
The euphoria faded quickly as the MCO was extended and it dawned on us that our lives were about to take a 180-degree turn.
People were confused about what laid ahead and businesses scrambled to find ways to keep going.
Employees were expected to set up workstations at home and students had to prepare for online lessons.
With almost everyone confined indoors 24/7, many began to notice that their homes were not a conducive place to spend long hours in.
Dull walls, uncomfortable furnishing, cramped spaces were some of the reasons.
Online marketplaces saw a surge in the sale of items such as desks and gadgets, children’s toys, fitness equipment and loungewear.
I only contributed to the loungewear data because it was the hot season and my room only had a ceiling fan, so I was changing clothes three times a day on average.
It seemed like many just made do with what they had and not what was needed.
I know people who had painted, decluttered, rearranged and decorated their homes during the MCO to make it more comfortable.
Inflatable pools and board games were snapped up like hotcakes, as parents looked for ways to entertain their young children at home.
Everyone was just trying to make the best out of the situation.
The experience emphasised the need for proper housing and amenities.
I saw the struggles in some overcrowded homes as adults tried to work – some having to set up workstations in the living room and kitchen as there was no space left – while children tried to get their parents’ attention. It could get very stressful, especially in small spaces.
I too did some home improvements, installing a much-needed air conditioner in the room where my workstation was to get through the hot days, and wondered why I had not done it earlier.
Working from home has never been better since then.
In essence, the MCO has created a more comfortable, fun and safe home for many families.
Besides that, many revisited their forgotten hobbies and rekindled old passions that also supplemented their income.
Many also experimented in the kitchen, cooking and baking for their families.
Some food may have ended up in the bin, but I am sure plenty made it onto the plate.
Enterprising ones started small home-based businesses too.
The MCO also saw many people lose their jobs but it was comforting to read about some getting out of their comfort zone to try new ventures.
Sometimes, we need that push which may even work out for the better.
For those who remained employed, many claimed to have saved a lot from travelling and eating out less due to the work-from-home arrangement.
If time is indeed money, I also saved not less than two hours of travelling time daily, which I spent looking after the household and my two children.
The MCO had forced employers to look into remote working as an interim solution, which I hope will remain an option for people in the long-term.
In 11 days, 2020 will end and I am grateful that all my loved ones have been blessed with good health.
But I will not discount the fragility of life. With or without Covid-19, life is precious.
A painful reminder was watching imminent death take over my family’s burly big-boned Rottweiler in just over four months after being diagnosed with lymphoma.
Instead of bawling over the fact, I drew solace in the final months by giving it the best of my time and effort, until it drew its last breath on Dec 8.
So, my point is, it’s important to always make good memories.
2020 has been one heck of a year for all of us, rich and poor.
But we must remind ourselves that there will be some good that will follow, in any dire situation.
For one, we have become more open and receptive to change and uncertainties, and resilient to face whatever that comes.
So, instead of calling this a year that we lost because of postponed weddings, cancelled vacations, halted studies and stalled careers, I will call it a year of reflection and realisation.
Instead of looking back at all the things that did not happen, think of it as time given for us to slow down and rethink our lives, for us to put things into perspective on what will be better and what truly matters.
So, when it is raining lemons, don’t just run for cover.
Pick them up after the storm and make lemonade!