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Saudade: 2020- A Year of Reflection and Nostalgia

By Mia Garza McCord, President. December 2, 2020

Saudade- a Portuguese word that translates to longing, nostalgia, yearning. Saudade is one of those words that doesn’t quite translate in the English language. Saudade is a deep nostalgia. It is that feeling you get as you watch your family from afar as they interact and it brings back memories, and moreover, feelings of love, togetherness, and peace.

As we enter into a time that should be filled with moments of saudade, it is hard to not feel sorry for ourselves. As we socially distance and are mindful of our aging or health compromised family and friends, it is painful to think of the next month without Christmas parties, gift exchanges, cookie recipe swaps, tamaladas, and all the fun, memorable traditions that the Christmas holidays embody.

As I watched our sweet children measure my husband for his birthday crown this evening (we both have upcoming birthdays), I felt a deep saudade and a sudden sadness as I thought about the upcoming month—no birthday happy hours, no Santa photos, no Christmas cocktail parties with friends, no bible study Ugly Christmas Sweater party, and possibly no extended family get togethers.

You see, this was going to be the year. This year, we were determined to get my brothers and their families together in our home. I imagined the cousin sleep over in matching jammies (yes, I had some picked out), with sugar cookies, tamales, and the excitement of the kids opening their gifts from each other. As with most things in 2020, this probably won’t happen. And, as I think more about it, it is ok.

As I think about what we are giving up, a feeling of guilt overwhelms me. I suddenly find myself thinking about each and every one of my co-workers. One, has not seen his family in London for over a year. Their toddler son is growing fast and his parents and family, aside from videos, have had to miss most of it.

I think about my co-worker whose wife gives selflessly as a pediatric nurse. They have made schedules work all year as she has given countless hours at the local children’s hospital, risking her health and time with her family to care for others.

I think about my co-worker who embarked on marriage shortly before COVID. He and his wife have spent the year really getting to know each other but missing out on all the first year “firsts” of marriage.

And, I think of my co-worker, whom since I have started at the coalition over three years ago, has gone through so much. Her medically fragile son has grown by leaps and bounds this year, and the only way they have been able to share these monumental strides has been over facetime. Imagine that- your child overcoming so many odds, and your only way to share your joy is through a telephone or video. I suppose it is better than nothing, but the online only support just doesn’t equate.

So, as we embark on the month of December and begin to think about all that has gone wrong in 2020, perhaps it would suit us all to think about what others have given up this year. Perhaps we should think about all the little joys we have been privileged to experience in 2020.

As a working mom, I know I am so grateful for a year in which I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time with my children. I was able to watch them grow in their education, their love of God, and their development. I was able to enjoy their curiosity and daily excitement over the smallest accomplishments. I had the opportunity to grow professionally while also reconnecting with my husband and making conscious decisions to focus on our marriage. I am grateful for a job that I love and co-workers who love TCCRI as much as I do.

While we all have a yearning for the way things were, I truly hope and pray that with the bad, 2020 also brought good and growth and love. I hope that a year from now, this year will evoke a sense of saudade in each of us as we remember these times of closeness and unhurried time.


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