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Top 5 Things That Got Us Through 2020

A positive retrospective on the year

Winter weather Dec 31st 2020 Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

This year has been a little rough, to say the least. But, lucky for us it is almost over. So instead of focusing on the negatives that has happened this year we are going to give you our top 5 things that got us through 2020.

Hopefully you can all take something enjoyable away from this list that will improve your lives. Also, please feel free to give us your top 5 in comments below.

Nate M:

Jiu-Jitsu. I told myself that when I dropped to a certain weight that I was going to join this gym in Omaha. It wasn’t happening. I just kept putting it off. Then one day I told myself that I am going to pick a day on the calendar and that no matter what that day I am going to go in and sign up. I followed through on it. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve always been willing to go out of my comfort zone and one of the more uncomfortable things to do is get your ass kicked. I’m still not any good but I’m better than I was. I guess that’s the whole point right?

Kettlebells. When the pandemic started there was a run on Kettlebells because those are great for at-home gyms. I went from not having any to now having 5.

Books and Video Games. I’ll have my Corn Nation book club for Flakes on Friday. I hadn’t played video games in quite some time. Then Wide Right Natty-Light did a tournament among the SBNation sites so it looks like I have an excuse to get a PS4 and Madden among other games.

Catholic Faith. I’ve been writing for Corn Nation for four football seasons and those who are familiar with my flakes know that I will bring up my faith from time to time but I’m also not trying to smash your face with it. It was weird and difficult to not be able to go to Mass. We would watch it on Youtube at home. We even dressed up in the beginning. Then we got more lenient. We stopped kneeling. Thankfully they opened things back up and we were able to go back. With the social distancing and masks things aren’t the same but we still get to be there and receive the Eucharist. There is a great comfort in believing that we are meant for what happens after death. So while there was a virus devastating people’s lives there was/is a great deal of comfort knowing while things are far far far from ideal here on this planet that this life is going to be a blip on the radar for what happens after we die. In all seriousness, I have friends and family who are believers, non-believers or who used to believe and don’t anymore and everywhere else on that spectrum. For me personally, if I didn’t have my faith then 2020 likely would have been significantly darker.

Family. My wife is a rockstar. My kids are awesome (except when they are not). I’ve said numerous times throughout this whole thing is that they can shut my stuff down but I want my kids to be able to go to school and daycare. I am lucky that I live in a place where the schools and daycares were able to stay open because this isn’t not an overly populous place.


Family. The pandemic gave me one great gift and that was having all my kids under our roof for several months. Ranchhand 1 is old enough that he likely won’t ever live at home full-time ever again (famous last words...). That five months (mid-March to mid-August) where the campus was closed and then summer internships were hard to get (he did get one in our local community) gave me one last chance to enjoy having all five of us together as a family.

The ranch. Living on a ranch in a rural area meant that I could be outside whenever I wanted and that I always had something to do. One section of shelterbelt got cleaned up. Now for the rest..

Garden. I may have overdone this one. (Okay, I definitely did)

Work. I enjoy my job(s) and my coworkers. I felt like I still had connections to the outside world and had something to accomplish during the pandemic. As someone that has worked remotely for a long time (and taught remotely) I also could be helpful and give others advice on how to handle this brave new world.

Zoom. We actually had more extended family conversations than we normally would during the summer. We made it a point to have a Zoom birthday party for family members and take time to talk.


Corn Nation Staff. Men over 50 tend to withdraw. We don’t get out much. We don’t try new things. We stay away from everyone. The pandemic has increased these tendencies, meaning there’s probably more substance abuse than ever amongst my age bracket. The staff here has kept me engaged on a daily basis about what’s happening in the world. They’ve given me someone to talk to. Without them, I’d be stuck with my family. Rather, my family would be stuck with me. It’s on that I don’t love my family; it’s that they shouldn’t have to be the sole target of my irascibility.

Work: Work has been a blessing and a curse. The pandemic quickly moved a whole gob of organizations to working remotely that were not prepared. The stress of moving and supporting those systems and end-users has been incredible. I still love my IT job, and it keeps me busy, otherwise, I’d have probably not quit drinking and instead went in the other direction.

The Dumb Things I Do: We (okay, maybe “I”) started a youtube channel a little over a month ago. It’s done better than I thought. I keep hearing I’m supposed to do Tik Tok, but... man, how many of these damned platforms are there? Then there’s the podcasts.

Sports: We had a semblance of a college football season. We have a NFL season. Both provided a wonderful distraction from real life this fall.

Zoom: I’m gonna have to agree with Jill. I don’t just zoom the podcasts. I zoom with customers. Zoom with family. If I could figure out how to zoom with complete strangers with the same interests as I, I’d probably do that. Oh, wait.


My Wife: First and foremost, of course. Besides the obvious support, she also took on the role of mask creator, making sure that we could continue upon basic necessities, such as grocery shopping, doctors visits, etc. And as the year went on, school and other activities that were able to restart.

Technology: The ability to do so much remotely has literally saved so many lives. I can honestly say that I’ve only had to go into the office four times over the last nine months because I couldn’t do it from home. That’s protected me, and likewise, protected others as well, if I had become infected at some point.

The CN Team: We’ve had the opportunity to laugh, cry and vent with each other...even if we didn’t have any sports to discuss. And man, was that spring and summer tough to deal with.

The Resumption of In Person School This Fall: Remote learning this spring was mostly a failure. It’s not the fault of the teachers, who tried their best to adapt to a situation they weren’t prepared for. But learning is one of those activities that requires personal engagement, especially for younger kids.

Mask Ordinances: So many people refuse to wear a mask for various reasons, but some of the more ridiculous notions (asphyxiation and Legionnaire’s Disease) can now be discredited. Yeah, my glasses fog up and they aren’t the most comfortable. And I hate having to go back home because I forgot to grab one as I left.


Family - My family was big in getting through this year. Living in a small town means that when you hunker down, you really do not go anywhere. I’m not exactly a home body so sitting at home over extended periods of time is not my cup of tea. Luckily I had a great family to get through this with. Having my parents right down the street to always have in our bubble was also very helpful when we got sick and tired of our house and needed a change of scenery.

Music - If I didn’t have music as an outlet, I think I would have gone a little crazier than I did. When the day was done and the kids were in bed, I could go downstairs and play or tinker with whatever instrument fancied me for that night. My guitars got plenty of use as did every effect pedal that was in my arsenal.

Basement Gym - Holy cow, I am so happy I had already invested in a home gym before COVID. No scrambling for high priced equipment that was backordered.

Streaming Services - I’m not a huge TV person but there are times when you really do just need to escape. No sports, no news, just something you can sit back and get lost in. The following are a few that I really enjoyed:

  • Dark (Netflix) - It’s deep, German, and at times hard to follow but this is a phenomenal show about existentialism, time travel, and four families that are connected through it all. Trippy as heck. I recommend watching in German with subtitles. Also, put your phone down while watching. You will need to pay attention to this one. You might also find yourself rewinding a lot to make sure you did not miss anything. There is so much going on in this show but everything does get explained at some point. Even if it’s confusing as heck.
  • Tales From The Loop (Amazon Prime) - Another weird existential/sci-fi show. Very well done. Yeah, I like to watch weird stuff for the most part.
  • Ted Lasso (AppleTV) - I hate binging shows. It’s just not my thing. However, I binge watched the heck out of this one, twice. If you want a smart, funny, feel good show then this is right up your alley. As my wife said, I don’t usually watch these types of shows but Ted Lasso is phenomenal. It is about a former D-2 football coach who goes to England to coach Premiere League soccer. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make sense at first blush but it is so good. I guess if there is one show to watch, let this be it.

Corn Nation - I was originally planning to leave after the last basketball season. No reason other than I had done enough here and it was time to move on. Then COVID happened and I decided to stay. Sorry folks, I’m now a lifer until these fine people kick me off the island.