It seems like people this year can’t just say ‘Happy New Year’. They have to add something like, ‘I can’t wait for 2020 to be over’ or ‘I can’t wait for 2020 to be in the rearview mirror’. As if the year is to blame for the pandemic, like if we could have skipped 2020 we would not have experienced it and once we get to 2021 it will be over.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved for the pandemic to not have happened. I would have loved it if we could have traveled like we had in previous years, been able to see and hug family and friends who are both near and far, but so many wonderful things happened for my family this year also.

Every year has both good and bad, some years more bad than good and others the good outweighs the bad. There is no getting around it that 2020 will always be remembered as the year of COVID and that it has changed everyone in big and little ways.

But for us it will also be remembered as the year Lou fell in love, moved out of the family home into a townhouse with his girlfriend and got engaged.

When Lou sets a goal, he is determined to achieve it! All his life he has been determined to make lemonade out of lemons!

One big way and definitely a lemon, was that the Sweet Fanny Adams theater in Gatlinburg decided after 44 seasons to close. We had discovered this vaudeville troupe known as the Great Victorian Amusement Company, over a dozen years ago on one of our first trips to this area and they have brought much joy to us over the years. The kids have grown up with them and love getting ‘dragged’ up on stage to participate in a skit. Chris and his sister, Jennifer always have a smile and a great big welcome when they see the kids coming. It is a small, intimate theater and they make you feel like part of the family.

For years, we had been coming to Gatlinburg on Thanksgiving weekend to see their Christmas show. As we made plans this year, we decided to come after Christmas and for the new year. It was with a heavy heart that we made reservations for the show, knowing it would be the last.

And here is where Lou made lemonade! He reached out to Chris and Jennifer and asked if they would help him propose to Cassie. They agreed and Lou started planning. He found someone to make masks that said CASSIE ELLIS WILL YOU MARRY ME. He bought a ring and Cassie’s family came up from Georgia and we came down from NY and we all met in Gatlinburg for the show.

I delivered the 5 masks to Chris. Lou was going to wear the ME mask.  Chris said they were going to do it after the 12 Days of Christmas sketch. I loved that bit and thought that was a great place!

As I sat in the theater and the show started, I was sad that this was the last show we would be seeing but also anxious and excited about what was to come! It was a great show and I was really enjoying it and then they started the 12 Days of Christmas. This bit is so funny and Jennifer is so good that my sides hurt from laughing so much and I thought, Maybe putting the proposal in after this wasn’t such a good idea.

Then it was time. Chris was saying that they had an announcement and they needed the audience to help them out. To read out loud the message. They were putting on the masks and were standing with the blank side of the mask to the audience. One by one they turned and the audience read CASSIE ELLIS WILL YOU MARRY and Chris pointed to Lou (in the front row) with the spotlight on him and he said, “Lou has the ME.” Then Chris came down from the stage and went down on one knee in front of Cassie and said, “Lou asked me to get down on one knee for him” and Lou took the ring box out of his pocket and opened it! Cassie said YES!

It was an amazing moment, it was an amazing show.

The end of the show was a wonderful and poignant way to say goodbye. There was a trunk onstage and they got into it one by one saying goodbye and disappearing into the trunk, packed away in our hearts and memories. So we can take them out when we need a laugh and we can visit with Agnes, Ollie, little Timmy and the rest of the gang!

So as we say goodbye to 2020 and the Great Victorian Amusement Company, we thank them for so many wonderful memories and for making us laugh until we cry and we wish them all well in their future exploits.

As for us, 2020 held so many surprises, we look forward to unwrapping 2021 to see what it holds.

Talk to you next month. Until then, may you be blessed with warmth in your home, love in your heart, peace in your soul and joy in your life.

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