Escape from Groundhog Day

Fittingly, February kicks off with Groundhog Day when Punxsutawney Phil peeps out of his hole, looks around, and predicts the weather: If it’s cloudy, then comes an early spring.

Popular culture recalls that movie where each day, Bill Murray’s alarm goes off, and he must relive the same day over and over. It was an apt metaphor for 2020.

It does seem that we all did the same monotonous thing over and over in the last year, masking up, socially distancing, drowning in globs of hand sanitizer, learning to zoom, and cocooning ad nauseam while watching horrible things occurring on the news.

The year 2020 was a slog.

For me, peeping out of my hole in February means contentious elections are mercifully over, and we have a functioning government. The spectacle of Jan. 6 still rattles, so it’s February 2021 that signals a New Year and the official turning of a new chapter.

Now freedom! Sort of.

I will have just had my second Moderna vaccine and feel safe. My puppy will have had all his shots and can also socialize. Hugs, kisses, and mobility!

As the vaccine rollout continues, the pandemic probably won’t be declared over with a ticker-tape parade, but slowly we will demask and see smiles again.

People will start booking vacations, planning parties, having church services with “I do” redo’s for the newlyweds. Graduations will resume.

As businesses reopen and the labor market re-coagulates, a sense of optimism might be in the offing.

No doubt we will all still be glued to our phones.

One caveat that Russian dissident Alexandr Solzhenitsyn gave in a Harvard commencement address endures, “All the glorified technological achievements of Western progress do not redeem the 20th century’s moral poverty.” The year was 1978. The war on that poverty is still being waged.

Hopefully, we will remember to keep clean, remain respectfully distant, keep life simple, and be grateful for the daily pleasures.

For a pivotal year, we helped each other laugh with memes and jokes, encouraged each other with prayers and texts, created new ways to celebrate holidays and milestones. May these continue to gentle a nation.  

Finally, the great thing about this short month is that smack dab in the middle is Valentine’s Day. Celebrate love, we must.

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Len Bourland

The views expressed by columnist Len Bourland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of People Newspapers. Email Len at

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