“Dear 2020” – Raven Smith's Letter to the Year

The writer and social media star addresses the past 12 testing months. “Where do I begin...”


Raven Smith


Richard Dowker

The end of a year is always cause for reflection. But this year, well, it's certainly not been what anyone expected. So if you were writing a letter to 2020, what would you say? We asked columnist, Sunday Times bestseller and internet wit, Raven Smith to do just that.

Dear 2020,

Where do I begin? We all had such high hopes on New Year’s Day. The places we’d go. The things we’d see. My long list of resolutions—I was to learn to cook an omelette without checking Google and possibly become fluent in Mandarin—ended up in the bin by Jan 2nd, despite my best intentions. But we were all hopeful for the new me that new years usher in.

I thought I’d be out dancing in a pearl earring, looping the cool metal through my ear lobe, layering scents up like sedimentary rock, and escaping into the night. But you offered a new equilibrium, didn’t you 2020? Blowing a raspberry at my plans for exterior adventures, for global exploration. You offered the great indoors, an interior sabbatical.

Have you ever loved and lost somebody? I whispered goodbye to my own pomposity, swapping my pearl for an elasticated waist. Some of us soured dough. Some breaded bananas. Some of us thrived in digital pub quizzes. A frenzy of at-home extremes, all behind closed doors. But we weren’t caged for long.

Without the noise of daily life, something in all of us stirred. A recognition for the small, the domestic. An understanding that our rampant busyness was slowly corrosive, stopping us noticing what matters. I suddenly understood the objects of my affection didn’t need constant revision. I found myself down the rabbit hole of novels. Perfecting my caking. Even appreciating nature on my long walks.

As your days passed, 2020, I wanted to trap their magic, their beguiling quiet. I wanted to etch out a correspondence with the moment, this new normal that felt like a comforting return to human necessity. I wanted to savour each wave as it crashed onto the sand. But tweets disappearing down a feed wouldn’t cut it. I wanted to prolong the sentiment. I wanted permanence. I wanted paper.

And so I wrote. Recording the passing clouds on a page. Observations, noticings, gratitudes. These meanderings were tributaries of the self, a chance to massage the knots of a year inside. Nothing grandiose emerged, just the gentle lapping of life on pause. A passage of time itself. It’s lovely that Shakespeare wrote King Lear in plague quarantine, but I’m happy jotting down my life in the margins.


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Discover all of our festive friends’ and their Papier picks in our gift guide.