2020. Whew. What a summer. What a year. What an adventure.

I have been meaning to write to you for months.

I was going to write in September and tell you how deeply grateful we all are for the community of Brookside. How this summer filled us up and reminded us of what is good. Your support. Your trust. Your flexibility. We are grateful beyond words.

Then it was October, so I was going to write to you and tell you that things felt off-balance. Our COVID numbers were finally climbing up north. Our message of gratitude felt a bit hollow as we were all looking at more infections, more concerns, more closures, and more deaths.

Then November came around and I wanted to write to you about disrupted Thanksgiving plans. And phrases like “uncontrolled community spread”. Our country had an election and it felt like anything normal that was left disappeared into political ads and arguments and yard signs.

Then December came and we found ourselves falling into the inevitable hibernation that comes with a 4:30 PM sunset. We fell into the holiday traditions of trees and lights and cookies. And we bought all of our gifts locally and justified take-out twice a week because our friends and neighbors’ restaurants were closed for indoor dining.

I suppose I wanted to look back on 2020 and wrap it up with a positive bumper-sticker-slogan. But it’s hard to look back on what we learned when we are still in the thick of it. There are glimmers of hope (yay for the vaccine!) but also another disrupted holiday quickly approaching.

There are, however, a few things that have been made abundantly clear in the last eight months:

First, this community we have all created together, is the one we have been waiting for. It’s kind and loving and supportive and important. We were humbled beyond words at the support, the care, and the connectedness of our Brookside family. And no matter how you connected with Brookside in 2020 (in person, via email, on social media….) we felt your love of this place.

Second, getting away from it all is IMPORTANT. People and families need time to recharge. You all told us every, single week this summer that your Brookside vacation was the most normal thing your family had done in months. And we have never been so proud to be normal…..

2020 had this funny way of sifting out what was important. Either because we made time for it, or because it was taken away from us and we missed it desperately. Around here it was pretty clearly: people and hugs. (And also jam-packing the lodge with bodies on a hot summer night to eat ice cream and play video games until someone kicks us out).

Once it’s safe to go back to something more normal, we’re going to work hard to remember what we sifted out in 2020.

On this Christmas Eve, eve we hope you’re somewhere that is both safe and cozy. We hope it involves slippers and maybe a pair of Brookside sweatpants. And we hope you “have enough good company or enough good memories to last you a long time” (The Keep Going Song, by Abigail & Shaun Bengson)

We are so hopeful about the summer of 2021. But, ultimately, we know that Brookside works even when it feels like nothing else does. And we will never forget how special that is.


Joanna is going to spend her 3rd year as an amateur blogger setting some publishing goals. (What ever happened to once/month?!) After a childhood of playing at Brookside, she would tell you that owning it is (almost!) just as fun.