As anyone who knows me will gladly testify, I’m not above recycling an old joke. Or three.

For example: A pastor was enraged when he found a charge for a $500 dress on his credit card bill. The pastor showed the bill to his wife. “How could you do this?” he asked. “You know we’re on an incredibly tight budget!”

“I know,” she said, “but the devil was with me that day. He told me I looked good in that dress, and I just had to buy it.” The pastor replied, “Well, you should have said, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’”

“Oh, I did,” she replied. But then he said, ‘Wow, you’re looking good from the back, too!”

So as we look back on 2020, I asked some friends to describe this unforgettable year, in six words or less. Some of the responses may have landed my friends in Facebook jail. You don’t want to go there. I’m told it is quite uncomfortable.

That reminds me of a second joke. A man joined a monastery. The abbot explained to the aspiring monk that he would only be allowed to speak two words every ten years.

At the end of the first decade, he was given a chance to say his first two words. He looked at the abbot and said, “Bed’s hard.”

Ten years later, the abbot gave him the chance to say two more words. He opened his mouth and said, “Food’s bad.” Finally at the end of his 30th year he looked the abbot straight in the eye and said, “I quit.” “I can’t say that I’m surprised,” replied the abbot. “You’ve been here for thirty years, and all you do is complain.”

Getting back on topic, how do you describe 2020 in six words or less? Some of us have been blessed, others have been cursed, and all too many have been touched by illness or tragedy.

Here are a few responses that stand out, mixed in with some comments of my own.

A friend who lost her dad to COVID said simply, “The worst year of my life.” I can’t argue that one. I’ve lost more friends this year than ever before, and COVID played a role in most of them. None of them got a fitting goodbye, in my opinion.

Other six-word summations of 2020 were, “Never in my wildest, saddest dreams,” “Just a complete and total disaster,” “A train wreck and dumpster fire,” “I miss my family and friends,” “Did this awful year really happen?” and “Thank God it is almost over.”

Others were more philosophical. “Twas a reflection of our foolishness,” said one. You may interpret that any way you wish. A favorite of mine is, “Love, forgive, appreciate what you have.”

For those who look for a silver lining, how about, “Awful, but I still have work.” Another is, “Hallelujah! I am still above ground.” I echo this one: “Hugs are worth more than gold.”

A friend in the medical field was brutally honest: “Being a nurse sucks right now.” Just please know that the rest of us totally get it: “Doctors, nurses are the real heroes.”

I’m thankful some of us kept our sense of humor, with six-word reviews like these: “What happened to the toilet paper?” Plus, “Wake me when this is over.” And, “This year isn’t what I ordered.” “The fat lady needs to sing.” And the story of my year, “Left my mask in the car.”

As we shoo out this nasty year, I’ll close with an old joke, frequently told by President Reagan. It’s about twin boys, age six. Worried that the boys had opposite personalities – one was a grim pessimist, the other an over-eager optimist – their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist tried to brighten the pessimist’s outlook, taking him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. “What’s the matter?” the psychiatrist asked. “Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?” “Yes,” the little boy bawled, “but if I did I’d only break them.”

Next the psychiatrist treated the hyperactive optimist. Trying to settle him down, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of screeching in disgust, the optimist emitted a yelp of delight. He then climbed to the top of the pile, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ the psychiatrist asked. “Well, with all this manure,” the little boy replied, with a huge smile on his face, “there must be a pony in here somewhere!’“

So let’s find that fast-forward button, and give 2021 a try. Here’s hoping we all find a pony in there somewhere.

David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at radiotv2020@yahoo.com, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405.

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