Random thoughts of sugar plums, end-of-year bills, mask-wearing, exhaustion, virtual learning, peaceful transitions of power, basketball, and Time’s stupidly-picked Person of the Year for 2020 ping-ponging in my grey matter …

We’ve got, what? … 16 or 17 more days to go in 2020? Surely we can make it to this finish line. My grandmother always said, “You can stand on your head for that long.” Of course, she didn’t have to contend with this past year like we all did.

I certainly won’t go into the past 340-someodd days, but there are a few things I’d like to bring up before we flip the calendar to hopefully a more normal — whatever that means now — year in 2021.

Some folks came unglued at a Facebook photo of the Graves County Health Department’s Christmas party. I will admit it caused my eyes to widen and a faint “oh no…” to cross my lips. Look, people here have been impacted hard by the pandemic with perhaps a loss of a job or loss of a loved one. While some have blatantly thumbed their noses or used another finger to express their displeasure at the recommendations to combat COVID, some have heard the call to social distance, wear a mask and wash hands, but still they suffered. Then they see a group photo of health department workers and the headline of the post that read “Socially Distanced Christmas Party.”

It caused a bit of a double take. A bad optic? Yeah. But did it warrant negative publicity? No. Call it a mistake from the social media point of view, but let he/she who has not made a social media faux pas cast the first tweet! The health department’s group photo with them wearing masks was likely a minute or two at the most. Other photos showed them eating socially distanced at tables. Thankfully there were plenty of comments to the post that pointed those things out and that these workers, who have been in the thick of COVID-19 since it reared its ugly head in Graves County, deserve a Christmas party while also taking necessary precautions. Hopefully there won’t be a need to wear masks or socially distance come Christmastime 2021.

And in the meantime to the health department and all the other health care and front line workers who have battled tooth and nail during this pandemic, Merry Christmas and a Happy — AND NORMAL — New Year!

•••

Don Hengy passed away last week. I and many others knew him as the boys’ basketball bookkeeper for Graves County High School, but he and “Doc” Oliver also spent time keeping stats for Eagles football.

His history goes back to keeping the book for Farmington High School and he was a long-time fixture at the First Region Boys’ Basketball Tournament too, selected as the region’s representative to record points of every boys’ basketball player in that tournament.

In the mid to late 1990s when I was sports editor here, Hengy liked to rib me about my weight. After I lost those pounds, he just found something else to rib me about. He was a wealth of regional basketball knowledge and he first introduced me (as a transplant) to the name “Odie” Smith.

He was always helpful when I had a question at the scorer’s table. Secretly, I would try to count up the shot attempt numbers before he could. It honestly kept me thinking about math at other times when I wasn’t even covering a ballgame. I wish I had talked to him and wrote about him playing baseball in the Detroit Tigers’ farm system. You think you’ll have time.

RIP, Don. My sympathy to his family and friends.

•••

The selection of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2020 was both surprising and not. It wasn’t surprising on the one hand, because — and yes, I’m saying it — that would be what you would expect a large media entity like Time Magazine to do. In my opinion, it’s a “liberal media” move.

It’s also clueless. Period. There are a number of others who are vastly more qualified to be labeled “Person of the Year” by Time, Life, Field and Stream, Sports Illustrated and Teen Beat. They are the health care workers, the emergency responders and family members who have had to stare down the coronavirus for days and weeks and months on end. They have given of themselves and also had precious things taken from them. They have been pushed to the brink and still been able to go further.

These are the true People of the Year for 2020 and should be recognized. Time’s obvious whiff in this regard shouldn’t.

Eric Walker is news editor for The Mayfield Messenger and Marshall County Tribune-Courier. He can be reached at ewalker@mayfield-messenger.com and editor@tribunecourier.com, or 270-804-4607.