Wikipedia explains that "annus horribilis is a Latin phrase meaning 'horrible year.' It is complementary to annus mirabilis, which means 'wonderful year.'" It has been used throughout the years by religious and political figures to describe what were considered as extremely difficult years.
There is no question that 2020 has indeed been an extremely difficult year. And yet:
- Covid-19 gave me a context for considering the reality of my ancestors' lives in Ebingen (Schwarzwaldkreis, Württemberg), several of whom died of "Pest" (plague) in the 16th and 17th centuries. Ebingen church records for some years contain page after page of long lists of the deaths and burials, day after day. These were people, not just names on pages.
- I have had more time to concentrate on organizing my genealogical data rather than going here and there to do research. The research I have accomplished made me more familiar with online resources that I hadn't used before.
- Zoom conferences are certainly different from in-person meetings, but as people began using some of the breakout rooms and other features, it became more useful as a convenient substitute. Virtual meetings certainly eliminated the need for time and expense of travel. At risk of webinar fatigue, I have viewed more interesting topics than I would have travelled to in person.
I don't mean to make light of the personal suffering many people have endured this year, or the fact that our problems are not over yet. As genealogists, we have seen how our ancestors struggled through some very difficult historical times, and yet here we are now. Perhaps relatively speaking (an unplanned double mean-ing), we're not in such a bad place as we might think.
May we all continue to be safe and carry on the best we can as did our forebears. May we have a more pleasant 2021 on the way to our next annus mirabilis!