Like some sort of monster from an old-time horror film, 2020 seems to be alive.


It’s alive!


The year has somehow taken corporeal form and seems to be thriving based on how much it can take from us before the New Year.


Our favorite celebrity from our childhood? Dead and gone. March Madness and our high school sports postseasons and graduations? Out the window. Our nonresident spring turkey season? Flown the coop. Sorry, Colorado.


OK, that last one was a bit of a stretch.


For me, the monster that is 2020 truly took form the day after my 32nd birthday, when I got the call that my grandma, Bonnie Swader, had died in her sleep.


My whole world fell apart that day, and I truly thought that was rock bottom. But the months that followed got worse in such a strange, almost predictable manner that it almost felt comical.


Nothing, and I mean nothing, went right this year.


That symbolic aura of complete failure in 2020 took shape again in perhaps the funniest way yet when the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in New York — a traditional image of hope and cheer during the holiday season — was put up Tuesday. The 75-foot-tall, 11-ton Norway spruce, which was chopped down in Oneonta, N.Y., put off immediate "Charlie Brown" vibes with its large bald spots near the base. It was soon mocked on Twitter as the ideal ugly mascot for the pathetic, pandemic-plagued year that was 2020.


And honestly, it is so damned ugly, it’s like they planned it that way.


It’s been tough, to say the least, for us to keep moving forward. For me, personally, I’ve been preparing myself for months for my first holiday season without Grandma Swader at the dinner table.


When news began coming in of giant spikes in coronavirus cases as the so-called "second wave" throttled up, plans once again started getting canceled for holiday get-togethers and other long-scheduled plans. And I completely understand why so many people are upset that 2020 is taking one more thing from us.


But what I want to remind my readers is that, hopefully for you, this is an aberration. This won’t become the new normal.


Whether in 2021 or some later date, at some point you’ll be able to return to celebrating with your loved ones. How soon that date comes is largely up to us.


That’s why we sacrifice the things we do now — like wearing masks religiously even though they’re a literal pain in the neck and putting off the traditions we look forward to all year — so that we can have a future where that sacrifice is no longer necessary and things will return to normal.


For myself and many around the country this upcoming week, we won’t be so lucky. That loved one who we enjoyed seeing so much during the holidays won’t be coming back after the quarantines are over — whether they died from COVID-19, suicide or just natural causes, like my grandma.


So rather than being upset about the fact that you can’t challenge your cousins to see who can eat more turkey — at least, not without setting up a Zoom meeting — or that your group of buddies wasn’t able to go out for your traditional opening-day pheasant hunt this year, instead cherish those moments you’ve had together and remember the good times as you look ahead to brighter days. Be thankful for the many blessings you have in your life — after all, isn’t that what this holiday is about?


Don’t be upset that 2020 is taking yet another bit of normalcy away from you — even though it’s understandable to feel that way. Take this opportunity to let people know how much you care about them in other ways. Call them up and tell them that you love them. Leave them a big bag of crappie to fry up over the holidays. Book a guided hunting or fishing trip with them for next year, if that’s what you enjoy doing together.


But here’s what I know to be true deep in my heart: As Kansans, we will not let 2020 get the best of us, because that’s not who we are. We are, if nothing else, a very stubborn people. Let’s be stubbornly optimistic that 2021 will kick the pants off of 2020 and be a year where we can rise to the occasion — together.


In the meantime, however, I say let’s throw that ugly Rockefeller Center tree into the lake for crappie habitat and at least let something useful come out of 2020.


Upland bird seasons open


This past weekend marked the opening of the Kansas pheasant and quail regular season, with many making the trek to western Kansas for the annual affair — though likely fewer than most years.


"We got roosters and quail out of every field we walked with the exception of two," said Dylan Faulconer, of Eudora, who hunted the opener with his family in Graham County. "Our family has been going out west for 25 years and a lot of us now are second- and third-generation hunters."


The greater prairie chicken season was set to begin this Saturday, Nov. 21, with a daily bag limit of two.


Duck hunters in the Low Plains Southeast Zone finally had their season opener this past weekend, as well, with the first segment running from Nov. 14 to Jan. 3, 2021, and the second segment Jan. 9-31, 2021.


The boundary between the Low Plains Southwest Zone and the Low Plains Late Zone runs through parts of Cowley, Butler, Chase, Lyon, Osage, Franklin and Miami counties. More information on waterfowl zones can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yxb3b8vo/.


Furbearer hunting and trapping season also began statewide on Wednesday. Eligible species include badger, bobcat, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, swift fox, red fox, gray fox, striped skunk, weasel, beaver and otter.