For most people, 2020 will be a year better forgotten. However, Emily Buchsbaum, an eighth-grader at Irvington Middle School, sees it differently. Last December, as the New Year approached, Emily decided that she “wanted to create something that captures the positives of the year” rather than “going into 2021 and completely forgetting about 2020.” She researched and formulated 20 positive takeaways from the year, compiled and illustrated them, and created a book, 20 Positives of 2020. With the help of her dad, she scanned and formatted it for publication on Amazon, and so, at the age of 13, Emily is a published author.
20 Positives of 2020 takes a creative, optimistic look at the events of 2020 and documents the year’s achievements. Chief among the positives for Emily was spending more time with family. Since March 2020, Emily has been homebound with her older brother, parents, and their black lab, Sandy. While it isn’t always easy, Emily has enjoyed having her dad, who pre-pandemic commuted to the city, around more. They have enjoyed games of Jeopardy, Family Feud, and Cornhole.
Emily also writes about the new hobbies she has been able to pursue with increased time at home. These include dancing – jazz and ballet – and experimenting with cooking, following recipes like Parmesan cauliflower, chickpea brownies, spanakopita, and chili – the family favorite.
2020 presented everyone with challenges, disappointment, and sadness. However, Emily’s upbeat attitude has allowed her to reflect on the good parts rather than dwell on the negative. Her Bat Mitzvah, scheduled for June last year with 150 people gathered in her honor, didn’t happen as envisioned. “Emily took it in stride,” her mom, Rachel said. The temple allowed for an intimate family gathering, with most invitees having to join remotely. Afterwards, instead of a party, friends and family drove by Emily’s house, to wave and hand off gifts. The celebration was different than expected but certainly won’t be forgotten.
The book is Emily’s first publication, but not the first work she has written. She has dabbled in poetry and a short novel, and would like to continue writing in the future. She also enjoys math and social studies, and outside of the classroom is a member of the Positive Impact Club, which spreads awareness about substance abuse and other relevant topics.
Everyone has been impacted by the pandemic in different ways, but Emily and her family have cultivated a positive outlook, and are still able to laugh and joke despite being confined together for nearly a year. They daydream about the family trip they will take in celebration of Emily’s Bat Mitzvah. In the meantime, Emily will no doubt be cooking up another delicious meal for her family to enjoy. With 2021’s book publication under her belt, the year is off to a great start.