2020 is not the worst year. There – I said it. Do you agree or disagree?

As we lean in to wrap up the year, I’ve read sentiments from folks who say 2020 has been their worst year. Yes, I’ve experienced grief and weariness. I have a list of reasons to declare 2020 as a no good, rotten year. But I’m also writing from rural North Dakota on an above-freezing December day with no snow on the ground. Let’s celebrate the positives!

We experienced an early successful farm harvest across the Upper Midwest. I know several farmers who harvested 2019’s corn crop in the late spring and early summer and then harvested 2020’s corn in October and early November. Markets are relatively positive, for the most part, and commodities are moving. While there’s always room for improvement, I do feel and hear far more positivity from farmers and ranchers to close 2020. Despite the upheaval of initial COVID-19 shutdowns, farm country feels a comeback coming.

If you’re far from the farm, you’re freely purchasing your choice of foods in a grocery store, a big box store or through an app or website. We’re not suffering from mass starvation in the U.S. We live in a food-secure nation. I’m not overlooking those using food pantries and feeding programs more than ever to feed their families. At the end of the day, we have food to feed hungry people. Can our system be adjusted and improved to feed more people with the food we grow, produce and distribute? Absolutely. But in comparison to the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago, our access to food choices in America makes 2020 a better year than we can comprehend or fully appreciate.

As a pro-technology and science advocate, a positive of 2020 is seeing the global science community and public and private sectors working together to expedite safe and fully tested COVID-19 vaccines. It’s hard to categorize 2020 as the worst year when just a year ago we didn’t know about a virus and now we’re nearing distribution of a vaccine to end a health pandemic. 2020 – you’re finishing stronger than you started. I’m simply an observer in rural America and filled with gratitude for the science, technology and private and public research and health systems.

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Despite food choices and vaccines, I do understand 2020 might feel as your most difficult, worst year. Our personal circumstances often feel heaviest. Dig deep to find the treasures to celebrate and honor as we wrap up and look ahead to what is to come in the new year.

In a small-town nursing home not far from me, my great-great aunt, Iris Westman, is 115 years-old. With COVID-19 precautions and shutdowns, I’ve visited her once this year, on her birthday. When I think of Iris’s life, I’m reminded she’s survived family losses, world wars, the Spanish flu pandemic, the Great Depression and so much more. Her tenacity encourages me to push through 2020. Iris finds positives to share, no matter the situation.

Last December, with more than 30 family members gathered at our family farm, my mom thought we should all go caroling at Iris’s room and others around her. Those who carried a tune sounded beautiful and the rest of us tried our best to blend in. It’s brought me joy to look back at those pictures recently, particularly as access to long-term facilities is shut down or limited. It also reminds me that holiday gatherings will happen again. We won’t have large gatherings this year on the farm. There won’t be caroling at the nursing home. It is not the worst situation, just a different one. And I hope and pray we will gather again with my family and sing Christmas carols with and for loved ones.

2020 has proven to be the year that my appreciation grew for food choices, science, family and traditions. Some things matter more, most things matter so much less after this year. 2020 cut out the clutter in my life. For those reasons, I declare 2020 is not the worst year.

To read more of Katie Pinke's The Pinke Post columns, click here.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.