My whole family posed for a picture late in 2019. We may send it out as a Christmas card this year.

It has turned out to be a more accurate view of the future than any offered by pollsters in the 2020 election. (OK, so that doesn’t set the bar very high.)

With the majority of our family now living in Asheville, those of us who are still low-landers went up the mountain last year to gather for a great Christmas. The picture was taken at the “Funkatorium,” a brewery best known for its unique sour beers. Who knew it would be the last time we’d all be together for, well, that remains TBA?! And who knew just how sour and full of funk the coming year would be?!! Not to mention how often we’d be in need of strong drink.

Truly, it has been a year. I think the Grinch may actually have gotten away with it this time. But we’ll be back. There is hope on the horizon.

Despite working in a respiratory clinic since July, I have managed to dodge the viral bullet. So far. In fact, just before writing this column, I got the initial dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Duke put me in the first wave since I met both main qualifications: 1.) Old. 2.) Pollyanna-ish enough to work all day with COVID-19 patients.

For those debating whether to get the shot, I can report I haven’t noticed any side effects. Other than occasionally seeing microchips in my urine. Also, sometimes when I close my eyes, I seem to hear Bill Gates whispering, “Microsoft good. Apple bad.”

As some may know, I decided to retire from Henderson Family Medicine in June and take a position with a Duke Urgent Care pilot project called “Walk-In Wellness.” As soon as I started, however, my clinic was converted into a respiratory care center dealing with patients who have symptoms or complications of COVID-19. We had the option of moving to a different site if we were “skeered,” but I elected to stay. I actually have enjoyed the work, and have learned a new Life Lesson: “’Tis far better to swab, than to BE swabbed.”

You can quote me on that.

I don’t want to make light of the pandemic. It truly has been horrible — rapidly getting worse, in fact — but we all should strive to seek light in the darkness. I have found a few sunny rays, not the least of which is being able to “go to church” in my pajamas while sipping a mimosa and eating sausage. This is something they should think about continuing when all this is over. Maybe an option for an early service, or perhaps a separate lounge. Just putting that out there.

In addition, with more free time on my hands, I have worked to become more handy around the house. Cases in point: my lawnmower, which refused to keep going in the rare instances when it actually started, and my bike, which locked in on one gear and stuck to it. Why pay big bucks to the repair shops, I thought? There’s a YouTube video for fixing ANYTHING these days.

So I met with Mr. Google (masks in place, of course) and found the appropriate videos. The obvious problem with my mower was the carburetor. I ordered new parts, followed the YouTube expert, and in under two hours had the fresh parts in place. Not a single piece was left over, which is my metric for a job well done. The bike was clearly in need of new shifter cables. Again, I got the proper replacements. Again, the work was deeply gratifying. Left me pumped up and feeling downright Tim the Tool-Mannish.

There was the minor annoyance that neither mower nor bike came close to working properly after my labors — another reminder of the recurrent need for strong drink — but now that I’ve taken each to its respective repair shop, they’re both functioning perfectly. So I invite you to just bask in the inspiration. You never know what you can (or can’t) do until you try!

In other news, the family is doing great overall. My wife has suffered the COVID troubles common to most. She is not so happy that we introverts now command the universe. At last. She really misses family. And she feels she’s taking her life into her own hands every time she enters the Food Lion. (Hey, some of us felt that way BEFORE COVID!!) But I think she’s handled it all very well. Apparently, starting Hallmark Christmas movies in May is actually better medicine than hydroxychloriquine or injecting bleach. She has our house looking festive and sparkly for the holidays, even though nobody will get to see it but us.

Come on by if you want — just be sure to soak your whole body in hand sanitizer, plus wear your N-95, face shield, double gloves and gown. And don’t breathe while inside. Visits are limited to 3 minutes. Enjoy!

Our most hopeful Christmas wish for 2021 is similar, I expect, to many of yours: Simply that we’ll get to see — and hug — our family all together again very soon.

This time, for the sake of prognosticating, I think we should skip Funkatorium and meet at French Broad Chocolate Factory. Sweet things surely must follow. Moan go wuffus, as we say in Hunnusun.

So to all, a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Hopeful 2021!!! Say hello to your Mama’n’em.