It was the beginning of March, and my husband was flying from Arizona to New York for business with a stopover for our nephew’s birthday. I was to take a similar flight later that month for our niece’s first birthday. As you may have guessed, our plans were cancelled by COVID-19. And then my husband was laid off for what turned out to be eight months. It could have been disastrous for us emotionally and financially but we chose instead to find positives in the pandemic.
While it would have been heartwarming to see our niece and nephew, and the rest of the family, we knew it was best to stay in Arizona. At that point no one really knew what the virus was, how it was transmitted, and what the short and long term effects would be. It reminded me a lot of the beginning of AIDS epidemic in the eighties; it was a similar feeling of uncertainty. We had to let the researchers and doctors do their work and this time we had to stay home.
Once we realized we would be locked down for more than a week or two, we ordered every subscription service available. Okay, maybe not ALL of them but we had Hulu, Disney+, Netflix, and premium channels. We caught up on new movies and watched the classics like Top Gun. We let the dog watch Lady and the Tramp and introduced our college-aged son to Hangover.
We were thankful to be together, healthy, and laughing. That felt good.
Many dinners were spent talking about the state of the world, the latest COVID-19 numbers, wondering if what we were doing was enough. There came a point, a few months into the pandemic, when we turned off the television and turned on music. Jack Johnson is a family favorite. Friends sent us puzzles and for the first time in many years, we put a puzzle together.
There was time spent going over the list of our favorite local spots, checking their social media to see if they were still open. While we always support local, we made a special effort this year. We wanted our restaurateur friends to know we loved and missed them so we ordered take-out meals. We avoided big box stores as much as we could, and prayed the small businesses would make it through the storm. As far as we can tell, our favorite spots are still open.
We have talked more about grocery lists this year than probably ever in our lives. Yes, finding toilet paper became a game of Where’s Waldo, but we found it before we had to open our emergency pack of napkins (ouch!). There were a few times when we couldn’t get what we wanted, but we always had what we needed.
Through the heat of the Arizona summer and beyond, we’ve taken walks together. We were blessed with many colorful sunsets, laughs, and family time. My son and husband improved their golf games through golf-specific workouts and practice. They wouldn’t have had that time if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. Our son is in college and stays on campus during a normal semester. He came home for Spring Break and went back this fall, and we loved our time together.
Even though we couldn’t make it to the birthday parties of our nephew and niece, through the magic of video calls we’ve been able to stay connected with our family and friends. This time gave, and continues to give, us a sense of normalcy in a year when we never got to visit my family in the Northeast or our two sons who live out of state. It hasn’t been easy but we’ve found ways to connect with loved ones.
Finding positives in the pandemic was not easy at times. We tend to be a positive family. This year we just had to look a little harder for the goodness. We’re ready for the cheer of the holiday season; my husband started his job at the beginning of December.