Christmas 2020

We didn’t have an inkling as we snorkeled in the Galapagos, explored Quito and the Amazon, and birded in the Ecuadoran cloud forests in January and February that life as we knew it was about to come to a screeching halt.

 I grieved and am still grieving, although we are among the fortunate. Hardest for me was missing Rumi’s babyhood. I saw his birth in November, visited him in December and January, and then there was nothing but Facetime and Zoom until July. We did risk seeing the family in September and November, but by his first birthday Rumi didn’t quite know who we were.

It was in the midst of the annual gathering of American Pilgrims on the Camino at Lake Tahoe in mid-March, that knowledge of the seriousness of the pandemic arrived in conjunction with a series of snowstorms. We abandoned plans to visit San Francisco, came home, and, for the most part, have stayed here.

We used our time productively, editing Kent’s stories and reflections and Pam’s letters written during their years sailing on Jacana and Coot. We hope to publish We Ran Away to Sea in some form by early spring: so, watch the best-seller lists. We also organized and indexed Pam’s recipes, with an introduction by Kent and brief notes on people associated with the recipes. We printed twenty spiral-bound copies of Coot Cook with Pam’s picture on the cover (sure to be a collector’s item).

In late September, as I watched the interest rates fall in my savings accounts, I got the bright idea that we could help our son Jesse, who was losing the place he’d lived in for fifteen years, by investing in a house that he could rent from us. So, we are now landlords in the midst of renovating a small older (1910’s, 20’s or 30’s? – we’ve not been able to verify its age, especially with libraries closed) house on a quiet street in walking distance of everything in downtown Albuquerque. The house appealed to us not only for its location, but because it retained the original layout, woodwork, hardwood floors, glassed-in front and back porches, lots of windows (old single-paned double-hung), a fireplace, and a small, bare, but private back-yard. The broken sewer line was replaced yesterday, an upgraded electrical system was finished today, and Jesse has moved in, although there is still much to do.

All of this has taken place, of course, during the never-ending election, which is still keeping us on edge, and as the surge in Coronavirus has further curtailed our lives and complicated shopping (long lines and shortages).

The loss in April of my dear friend Anne Sensenig, my former library assistant, talented singer, writer, activist and true friend to many has left a huge hole in my life. Fortunately, we’ve kept in touch with her husband Daniel, who has continued the amazing Caringbridge reflections she started. 

We have treasured the few get-togethers we have managed to have with family and friends, including some lovely small, socially distanced dinners in our patio during the summer. It is hard to believe that a year ago I’d never heard of Zoom.

The world is still beautiful, although we may be losing that, too.  Our New Mexico sky is bright blue, but the weather report says the air quality is poor. We’ve been participating in a discussion of All We Can Save, a powerful collection of essays on climate change. In 2021 I am determined to bring my garden back to life. This year, after a spring frost, we lost all of our fruit except a few pomegranates. We also lost our bees and our flock of hens (now only four) was ravaged by hungry coyotes. I am still grieving for myself, those I love, and for our country and our planet.  It seems we have made such a mess of things.

Heather Cox Richardson, the Harvard political historian, whose column I follow daily (along with that of Franciscan Richard Rohr) was asked whether those who lived through the Great Depression realized how dire their circumstances were, and she thought not — not until looking back. I feel circumstances are dire right now, but I recall how my parents faced the Depression, World War II, and serious health issues (tuberculosis and cancer), and yet not only survived, but led productive lives into old age. At young ages they also survived the 1918 flu epidemic! They told us stories about the hard times with a sense of pride. We, too, may one day have stories to tell about 2020.

I recently discovered (thank you, Daniel) Jan Richardson’s art and poetry, and I will leave you with snatches of two of her poems that you can find complete on her website: (  

With this closing poem we wish you safe holidays, hope for a better new year, blessings on your journey, and comfort in the awareness that we are not alone, for those who have traveled before us have also faced challenges and survived.

The Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel begins:

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,

might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

And a similar poem ends:

But step out
and you will know
what the wise who traveled
this path before you
the treasure in this map
is buried
not at journey’s end ….
but in the journey itself,
And in those who travel with you.

Christmas blessings on your journey from Linnea and Kent

Author: Linnea Hendrickson

I am a retired librarian who walked my first camino to Santiago de Compostela in 2010, all alone from Le Puy-en-Velay to Finisterre. I've since returned to Spain, France, Portugal, or Italy at least every other year and continued to walk the many ways to Santiago.

4 thoughts on “Christmas 2020”

  1. Linnea, thank you for this sobering, sad, yet heartwarming encapsulation of such a strange year, which I cannot myself yet put into words. Miss you so much, and maybe we can find a way to bridge this chasm. Love,


  2. Oh, Linnea, thank you for this uplifting breath of fresh air. Your writing evokes so many feelings, so much blue sky, such delights in life itself. I wish for you and Kent a wonderful holiday time, safe winter into spring, and many adventures to come once this scourge has lifted from us.

    Buen Camino, Daniel


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