The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. It may be the immortal first line to L P Hartley's 1953 novel The Go-Between, but never has it felt so relevant.
For 2020 is the year when our lives were completely altered.
Amid assumptions that nothing will ever be the same again, there are assertions that we will eventually fall back into our old routines.
But will that even be possible, given that what we took for granted changed, almost literally, overnight?
Way back at the beginning of the year, long before 2020 became a byword for catastrophe, we first heard of a virus in distant China, and a couple of cruise ships that had been affected by it.
No one, however, was prepared for this to morph into a world health pandemic, blanket lockdowns, packed hospitals and staggering death tolls.
It turns out that the calamitous Australian bushfires that dominated the news headlines at the start of the year were nothing more than a harbinger of what was to come.
Images emerging from Sydney back then showed the Opera House shrouded in smoke, with residents of the city photographed wearing face coverings.
No one could have known at the time that such masks would become a totem for 2020 and - worse still - emblematic of a so-called new normal as a deadly virus swept across the globe with impunity.
In that normality, living rooms became offices, with people working from home - or as some might say - living at work.
Most of us said goodbye to the daily commute, with a walk down the hall replacing a ride into town.
Bedrooms were turned into classrooms, with stressed-out parents finding a hitherto unheard-of level of appreciation for teachers.
Shopping became an arduous activity of queuing around car parks to gain entry to supermarkets where a world of hand, basket and trolley sanitisation, not to mention one-way human traffic, awaited.
No surprise then that many consumers went online, far from the masked, madding crowds making the richest man in the world, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, even richer. The big retailers will also be among the few to look back fondly on 2020.
When the first lockdown in Northern Ireland came in March, we thought life would return to normal in a matter of weeks.
Yet as we trundled on and the year seemed somehow to collapse in on itself, so much so that days were hard to tell apart.
People reacted differently to the chaos of Covid-19.
Chocolate and alcohol flew off supermarket shelves almost as quickly as the toilet roll and pasta from those early panic-buying sprees, as solace was sought wherever possible.
Work attire was no longer a prerequisite in these new 'Zoom' days, so there were some who dressed from the waist up and others who hit the video blackout button didn't bother getting out of their PJs.
There were no hugs, handshakes or even air kisses as social distancing replaced socialising.
Going to the pub or out to a restaurant for a meal - things most of used to take for granted - became fleeting pleasures, and even the Chancellor's well-intentioned 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme only helped to spread the deadly virus.
We learned of the existence of 'wet pubs' (who coined such a terrible phrase?) as opposed to bars that serve food.
Overnighting in a hotel, getting our hair done or visiting a beauty salon became elusive treasures that could be taken away with a sudden roll of the Executive's dice.
Every news bulletin then - and even now - seemed to start with a death toll, as well as a reminder that behind every lost life was a grieving family.
In the early days, however, there were faces and names. Now there are just rising numbers.
There was the despair of losing loved ones and the subsequent pain of being unable to give them the send-off they deserved. Online forums - even for funerals - became a new rite of passage and people sought solace in virtual get-togethers.
Zoom, hitherto unknown to so many, took on a life of its own, while other platforms such as Facetime acquired nicknames (Facewine) as a sign of the times.
Millions of families, though, struggled to put bread on the table, while the demand for food banks hit the roof. We got used to clapping for the NHS on Thursday nights, while the search for a vaccine dominated much of the news coverage. We thought more of others and less of ourselves, until the ravages of Covid-19 hit closer to home.
Economist John Simpson said he doesn't believe that anything has changed forever.
"If Covid disappeared I think there would be a rush to get back to what we understood to be normal," he said.
"Of course, there will still be some more reliance on working from home, and if that does happen it could mean between 10 and 30% of the labour force.
"I don't think the mood is there entirely for that but if it were to happen it would have major significance." He said such a shift would "alter the nature of urban structures".
"We don't need to have people piled high in office blocks," he said. "If we can work from home, more of us will work from a distance from home.
"We will need to come into city centres less and less. And we don't know to what extent city centres will be changed, and changed forever."
Mr Simpson also said he believes there is "a real change coming in terms of retail shopping - as what we've seen in the last year".
"The portion of shopping that can be done online is now almost limitless. And it is happening more and more.
"And the more we shop online the less we need city centres with high street shops and therefore the change in the number of people employed in high street shops, which is falling quickly, and I think that change will stay with us.
"There will be fewer people working in retail in city centres."
How our lives will ultimately change in the aftermath of the pandemic remains unknown.
In the United States, outgoing President Donald Trump's management of coronavirus may be viewed as the most catastrophic domestic policy failure by a world leader in all of history.
Closer to home, bumbling Prime Minister Boris Johnson eventually discovered that Covid-19 could not be managed away by slogans or soundbites.
Whatever happens, 2020 will be forever remembered.
But what it has changed forever remains to be seen.