Here we are at the end of 2020, a year that many of us are optimistic about putting behind us. I’m reminded of Mr. Tumnus the faun, a character in the first book of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, who said, “It is winter in Narnia, and it has been for ever so long…. Always winter, but never Christmas.” Think about it…always winter and never Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or however your family celebrates at this time of year.) It has been a year to challenge the spirit of hope in us all—a year of serious health, economic, political, and emotional challenges. 

We’ve finally made it to the holiday season, but everything is different in 2020 and we find ourselves isolated from family and friends when we would normally be making plans to be together. 

Still, we hope…for a COVID-19 vaccine (or two or three); for the safe return of students to schools and colleges; for the reunion of families and friends; the re-opening of businesses that have had to close; and (of course) the triumphant return of live music concerts, festivals, camps, workshops, and jam sessions. We hope for the return of smiles without masks, choirs singing and orchestras playing, friendly handshakes, and even an occasional hug! 

If nothing else, loss and doing without makes us appreciate things we previously took for granted. A moment—or an entire year—of introspection can cause us to re-examine priorities and who we are, apart from what we do, as we plan for the future. 

I wish you a calm and safe, yet merry and bright holiday season. Winter celebrations typically include gifts, and as 2020 comes to an end I thank you for including the IBMA Foundation among the good causes you choose to support. Your charitable donations and planned giving underwrite project grants, bluegrass in the schools mini-grants, the bluegrass college band showcase, the Rosenberg Bluegrass Scholarship Award, teacher workshops and educational resources, academic bluegrass seminars and symposia, three new college scholarships, the Arnold Shultz Fund, and more! 

I firmly believe a brighter future for bluegrass music will make the world a better, more hopeful place for generations to come. Thanks for helping us make that happen; we appreciate your continued support more than you know. Let’s all keep our lamps of hope trimmed and burning this holiday season. As both Jim and Jesse and Jimmy Martin used to sing: “So pick away on the old banjo, keep that guitar strumming, put more water in the soup, there’s better times a-comin’.” 

–Nancy Cardwell, IBMA Foundation Executive Director 

Return to the December, 2020 issue of The Cornerstone.