Welcome. My colleagues are looking back at the ways culture was upended in 2020, and their reflections are helping me make sense of a year that frequently seemed senseless. James Poniewozik put it best, I think, pointing out that this is the year “everything became TV”: We watched “I May Destroy You” on Netflix, and used the same screen to attend school, to take yoga classes, to commune over Thanksgiving dinner.
When you find yourself with time on screens this weekend, be sure to read Salamishah Tillet on culture’s reckoning with white privilege, and check out how Jesse Green learned to critique theater on a curve. Read Reggie Ugwu on how podcasts made him feel less isolated, Zachary Wolfe on discovering an opera community online, Dwight Garner on finding the time for reading. These critics have been at home, too — working remotely, like so many of us — becoming, as Ugwu put it, “involuntary shut-ins, haunting our own homes like premature phantoms.” Their meditations on 2020 helped me feel more connected and may do the same for you.
Earlier in the week, I told you about an apparently phantom-sent bag of birdseed I received in the mail. It was followed the next day by a beautifully wrapped bird feeder that suctions to the window — perfect for apartment dwellers — and accompanied by a card from my thoughtful older brother. I was disappointed, of course, not to have an Encyclopedia Brown-style mystery to crack, but glad that the birdseed wasn’t, as some At Home readers wrote in to suggest,
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