In late October, “Saturday Night Live” had a fabulous skit featuring Kate McKinnon—who can do no wrong in my book—as fortune-teller Madame Vivelda. Four friends seek her advice, one saying “2019 has sucked, but I think 2020 is going to be our year!” Madame Vivelda relays her visions about 2020 for each of them: They wind up perplexed as she foretells of washing a bag of chips, ordering adult coloring books, and substituting Kentucky for Paris on vacation. “All your visions mention us crying,” one laments. “Do we all just cry for all of 2020?”
Ahem! So here we are, dealing with what UC Irvine researchers call “cascading collective traumas: the pandemic, a recession, social unrest, and weather-related disasters”—specifically the Silverado and Blue Ridge fires for us in Orange County. UC Irvine professor of psychological science Roxane Cohen Silver and her team have researched the mental health effects that will arise from these events and the nonstop media exposure to them, suggesting we’ll need extra resources in the future. We don’t have many of our usual outlets to relieve stress: gathering with friends, enjoying live shows and concerts, taking vacations, and just getting out of the house to go to school or to work. All that, plus the fact that our holidays will look much different this year, and it’s no wonder we’re in a state of angst.
We need encouragement. This issue might offer a tiny bit of that. We’re sharing good ideas for comfort food like noodles (Page 92) and a chance to lower your blood pressure with beautiful pictures of sunsets around Orange County (Page 106), many of the photos taken by readers. Breathe deeply and take solace knowing we’re at the sunset of this year. Here’s hoping 2021 will bring reassurance, optimism, and hugs.