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2020 Year in Review: An Optimist's Look at This Historical Year

2020 Year in Review: An Optimist's Look at This Historical Year

As we bid farewell to this rollercoaster of a year, we look back on the positive things that happened in California in 2020.


5 min read

December 17, 2020

Can you even fathom how long 2020 was? The pandemic alone, with its catastrophic consequences, would be enough for this year to go down as one of the worst years in recent history. But add that to the array of other pre-existing political, societal, and economic issues that were here long before coronavirus and continued to worsen throughout the year, and you can see why everyone is anxious for 2020 to end. Human interconnectedness and relationships within state borders, cities, communities, and families were truly tested as we battled through this tumultuous year.

Many have lost loved ones, are struggling financially, and feel sad and anxious. We do not mean to minimize the harsh reality of this difficult year, but we truly believe in the power of an optimistic outlook. As we look back on the year, we can still (surprisingly) find many positive things that occurred as well: Out of COVID-19 came creativity; out of quarantining at home came extra time with family; out of necessary activism came some positive political change.

These exceptionally difficult times require us to reshape our outlook on the world and think about how we can recover to build a better, stronger, more sustainable, and fulfilling tomorrow. With that being said, let’s start by doing a year in review and highlighting the positive things that happened in California in 2020.

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The year in review

1. Drive-in movie theaters in California made a rather nostalgic comeback.

2. Drive-in concerts also became a thing. If you’re interested in attending one before the year ends, check out the calendar of drive-in movies and concerts in L.A.

3. We were able to binge-watch a lot of California-made movies and TV shows.

4. Countless lonely quarantiners adopted a furry friend, resulting in an unprecedented surge in pet adoptions. A Southern California shelter announced a complete wipe-out as all of its animals found a forever home.  

More people than ever before adopted pets this year, meaning there are fewer animals in need of a forever home. Did you get a quarantine buddy?

5. Many of our favorite California restaurants shared their secret recipes so we could make fantastic homemade meals.

6. Our favorite late-night California talk shows, such as Jimmy Kimmel Live!, continued to film creative remote segments.

7. Wearing comfy sustainable loungewear—all day, every day—became acceptable for any online occasion.

8. California restaurants opted for creative social distancing solutions such as filling seats with mannequins and requiring patrons to wear pool-noodle hats.

9. Communities in California came together to help small businesses, vulnerable communities, and nonprofit organizations survive the harrowing effects of the pandemic.

10. We managed to stay (somewhat) fit while lounging around at home thanks to virtual workouts and exercise classes.

Staying fit during quarantine is all made possible thanks to California fitness studios offering virtual exercise classes.

11. While we may have gained a little weight, we also discovered our love for at-home activities like baking and gardening.

12. Kind people around the Golden State used their sewing skills to make masks for people who needed them the most.

13. We got creative with our outdoor date ideas around California.

14. We also “went” on many innovative at-home dates.

15. We finally had time to get through our reading lists.

16. We recognized and cheered on the unsung heroes—teachers and healthcare workers—for the insane amount of effort they put into their daily tasks.

We are eternally grateful to our unsung heroes working on the frontlines and saving lives.

17. Tesla and other large California-based auto companies made ventilators and other medical devices when there was a shortage during the pandemic.

18. Distilleries around the state used their resources to produce hand sanitizer so no one ran out.

19. We came up with creative ways of celebrating milestones, including planning impressive virtual parties and drive-by birthdays.

20. Biking trails became one of the few public spaces we could use during the lockdown. So, we went on biking trips around the Golden State—a lot of them.

21. We rediscovered our love for road trips and embarked on many adventures with our family and significant others. Of course, we also went on a few solo road trips.

We definitely took more road trips than normal this year. Is there any better way to spend your weekends?

22. We enjoyed the outdoors like never before—stargazing, camping, running, and going for picnics around the Golden State were just a few of the activities we loved this year.

23. ABC finally cast its first Black male lead, Matt James, in the so-far 40 seasons of The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

24. Speaking of The Bachelor, a season for seniors is in the works, and we’re so ready for it.

25. Netflix’s Tiger King—and the slew of hilarious memes that followed it—made us laugh hysterically.

26. Ashley Graham, Gigi Hadid, Anderson Cooper, and more California stars welcomed adorable babies.

27. Musicians went on social media to give us free personal concerts from home.

While we couldn't see concerts in person, we got to enjoy them from the comfort of our homes.

28. We got to enjoy virtual tours around California from the comfort of our couch.

29. Many museums closed their physical doors but introduced virtual tours of their new and old collections.

30. We also got the opportunity to go on virtual tours of zoos, parks, and—get this—Mars.

31. We understood the importance of living in the moment and gifting memories and experiences instead of things.

32. Most of the ancient redwood trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California’s oldest state park, survived the CZU Lightning Complex Fires. (Though the park remains closed.)

Thankfully, the famed giants of Big Basin Redwoods State Park survived the massive California wildfires in 2020.

33. Many California companies offered free classes and services to keep us entertained and educated at home.

34. Scientists, doctors, and other professionals leveraged their expertise to develop promising solutions to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

35. Our favorite California daytime host, Ellen DeGeneres, took us back to the basics, hilariously teaching us how to wash our hands.

36. Disney Family Singalongs entertained quarantined kids for more than five minutes.

37. We got creative with last-minute Halloween costumes.

38. We understood the importance of giving back by supporting California brands that care about us and the world.

39. We utilized our extra time at home to finally incorporate self-care remedies into our lifestyles.

With all the chaos in the world and so much time spent at home this year, we learned to prioritize self-care.

40. We commuted less than we ever did in recent history—wasting less time, money, and environmental resources.

41. We sang from our balconies and clapped and cheered on essential workers.

42. President Trump became the first-ever U.S. president to lose the popular vote twice. 

43. COVID-19 created a shared experience that every Californian could relate to, bridging a sometimes-overwhelming gap brought on by conflicting political, social, and economic issues.

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