Confetti falls at midnight on the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in New York. (Photo by Ben Hider/Invision/AP)
December 11, 2020
We can probably all agree that 2020 was not our best year. From a global pandemic to natural disasters to economic uncertainty, this year has introduced us to some unprecedented challenges and tough conversations. Though for many of us the past 12 months have been full of heartbreak and FOMO, we still have found moments of connection, commonality, and celebration. Amid a year full of lockdowns and quarantines, we toasted to virtual weddings, mastered the mute button, and even learned a few viral TikTok dances along the way.
With a few days left before we ring in 2021, we're taking a look back at all of the moments that made us smile during an unpredictable year.
We should have known that 2020 was going to be one for the books after Tesla CEO Elon Musk broke out some of his best dance moves during a ceremony at the automaker's Gigafactory in Shanghai. We still don't know what those moves actually were, but they were iconic, to say the least.
Just before Valentine's Day, the first same-sex wedding ceremony in Northern Ireland took place. Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards-Peoples made history as the first same-sex couple to be married there following a legislative win for the LGBTQ+ community. Congrats to the happy couple!
One movie that deserved a standing ovation this year: Parasite. The film made history as the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards, and also became the first South Korean movie to ever win an Oscar.
Bong Joon Ho, right, reacts as he is presented with the award for best picture for "Parasite" from presenter Jane Fonda at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Looking on from left are Kang-Ho Song and Kwak Sin Ae.(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
During uncertain times, we all need somebody to lean on. Just after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, we all made the shift to staying inside. This quarantined performance of Bill Withers' hit song, Lean on Me, in Dallas, Texas, took our breath away and reminded us about the power in community, even in isolation.
As healthcare workers faced shortages of PPE and staff, "Captain Tom" captured hearts around the world after raising about £38.9 million pounds ($52 million USD) for Britain's National Health Service (NHS). At age 99, World War II veteran Tom Moore walked 100 laps around his garden to raise £1,000 for healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic. An instant internet sensation, Moore was later knighted by the queen and became the first centenarian to reach the top of music charts after accompanying Michael Ball in a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone.
All aboard the International Space Station! For the first time in history, NASA astronauts launched into space on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, the first commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft.
A New Jersey balloon artist has been paying tribute to essential workers during the pandemic with balloon art. Eddie Lin, who has autism, has been creating balloon art for 12 years and decided to honor the essential workers in his community. He has made special pieces for health care, grocery, and postal workers as a show of thanks.
Courtesy: Ausome Balloon Creator/Facebook
Diego, the 100-year-old giant tortoise who saved his entire species from extinction, finally returned home to his native Española Island after decades of service in a breeding program. The program ended because it was able to meet its conservation goals — and officials believe Diego to be the patriarch of at least 40 percent of the 2,000 tortoises on the island.
A star was born after a mysterious musician dazzled shoppers with an impromptu concert at an antique store in Massachusetts. College student John Capron, a self-taught pianist, was gifted the $200 Whitney piano by the store's owner after his rendition of Journey's Don't Stop Believin' went viral.
Remember Tahlequah, the orca that carried her dead newborn calf for more than two weeks and over 1,000 miles, refusing to let it sink? Researchers announced in July that she was pregnant again. She recently gave birth to her calf named Phoenix in September.
And, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal stopped to help a stranded driver along Interstate 75 near Gainesville, Florida. Deputies shared the dashcam footage on Facebook and thanked O'Neal for his assistance.
Talk about friendship goals. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates helped to celebrate his longtime friend Warren Buffett's 90th birthday with a sweet surprise. In a special tribute to their friendship, Gates baked a delicious-looking cake featuring Oreo cookies (Buffett's favorite) that was topped with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO's face, drawn in chocolate icing.
This fall saw the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a women's rights champion who became the Supreme Court's second female justice. Bryant Johnson, Ginsburg's personal trainer, did push-ups next to Ginsburg's casket as she lay in state in the U.S. Capitol. Johnson was the late her personal trainer for more than 20 years, and the Supreme Court justice became well-known for her rigorous exercise routine consisting of squats, curls, planks, and push-ups.
A rat in Cambodia became the hero we need. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat, was recognized for his work detecting undetonated landmines in the Southeast Asian country. In total, Magawa sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions throughout his career.
May the Force be with you (and with your Baby Yoda doll). A 5-year-old decided that the firefighters in his home state of Oregon needed Baby Yoda more than him, so he sent the popular green character in a care package.
Courtesy: Baby yoda fights fires/Facebook
The presidential election seemed to last the entire year, but one insect would not let itself be upstaged. #TheFly took no time in going viral after landing on Vice President Mike Pence's head during the 2020 Vice Presidential debate. Who said politics was a buzzkill?
This TikTok sensation gave us nothing but vibes, smiles, and cranberry juice. After his car broke down on his way to work, Nathan Apodaca hopped on his skateboard and filmed a video of his "morning vibe" as he jammed to Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. After the video went viral and cleared shelves of cran-raspberry juice, donations poured in from fans including Ocean Spray, which gifted Nathan a new truck to replace the car that had broken down. Mick Fleetwood even recreated the iconic video that put his band's song back on the top of the music charts.
In a true sign of the times, a super fan missed the opportunity to hang out with Harry Styles when the star's car broke down outside of her home. While our hearts went out to Theodora for the missed opportunity, these pictures of Harry feeding her fish made our day, week, month, and year.
While the saga of the mysterious metal monoliths left us with perhaps more head scratches than smiles, we had to mention the shiny objects that perplexed the internet. (If anyone left tall metal monoliths in Utah, Romania, or California, authorities would like to talk to you.)
Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, 2020 gave us this adorable owl who was found in the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. "Rocky," the petite Northern Saw-whet owl, was discovered dehydrated and hungry, but otherwise unharmed after accompanying the tree on its 170-mile long journey from Oneonta, New York, to Manhattan. Rocky was later released into the wild.
Round of applause for Special Olympics athlete Chris Nikic who made history by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN Triathlon.
NASA and SpaceX made history (again) with the launch of the inaugural Commercial Crew Program flight. In another first, NASA astronaut Victor Glover is now the first Black astronaut to live aboard the International Space Station for a full six-month rotation. But perhaps the most recognizable passenger was Baby Yoda, who accompanied the team on their journey.
As if we needed any more reasons to love Cher, 2020 gave us another one. Thanks to the music icon, the "world's loneliest elephant" finally has a new home at a wildlife sanctuary in Cambodia. Alexa, play I Got You Babe.
The best way to spread holiday cheer is by singing loud for all to hear - and by giving the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree a much-needed glow-up. The 75-foot-tall, 11-ton Norway Spruce, faced some harsh ridicule online after it made a less-than-spectacular debut in Manhattan. If 2020 were a Christmas tree, this would be it.
Credit: Left: AP Photo/Craig Ruttle Right: Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer
Was 2020 the worst year ever? Maybe. Has it taught us valuable lessons about compassion and appreciation for our world? Absolutely. While not exhaustive, this list has shown us that there can still be moments of happiness, even amidst a dumpster fire of a year like 2020.