As I hunker down in my little house, “sheltering in place,” waiting for the coronavirus curve to flatten so life can get back to normal, I find myself remembering another time when I was stuck inside—for a very different reason.
It was a winter evening; my parents’ friends, Bob and Penny, came over for dinner. It had been a rough day for them; it was the first anniversary of the death of their son. They came to our house to be with people who loved them and to try to get their minds off their overwhelming sadness. As the night wore on, it began to snow, but Bob and Penny just couldn’t bring themselves to go home.
When they finally decided it was time to get on the road, they quickly realized they weren’t going to be going anywhere . . . for at least a few days.
I was pretty young when this happened, and I don’t remember exactly how much snow fell, or how many days we were all snowed-in together, but I remember parts of this event very clearly—because we had so much fun.
My dad and Bob enjoyed comradery as they kept the fireplace going and gradually shoveled our pathways and our long driveway.
My mother and Penny spent a lot of time laughing in the kitchen, putting meals together from whatever we had on hand. When they weren’t cooking, they did crafts. The project I remember best — the one I got to help with — was making birds out of dough made of salt, flour and water. We spent hours shaping those little birds, which were flat—sort of like tiles. We baked them and painted them in bright colors. I’m not sure why I remember this so clearly . . . perhaps simply because it was unusual and really fun . . . whatever the reason, it’s a memory I’ve held onto for a very long time.
I think this time was special for my parents because they knew that if their friends had gone home, they’d have been stuck inside until the snow was cleared, with nothing to distract them from their grief. I’m sure there were tears mixed with the laughter during those snow days, but tears shared with friends are easier to endure, and I know it meant a lot to my parents to be able to help their dear friends get through a very hard anniversary.
This was not an automatically happy time for my parents and their friends, but they chose to make it happy.
. . . . . . . . .
I don’t know who you’re stuck inside with right now, while normal life is on hold . . . perhaps children, a spouse, parents. Whoever you’re with, I hope you’ll take advantage of this unexpected break in routine to do something memorable together.
Unplug for a while. Turn the news off and do something together: work a jigsaw puzzle, bake some cookies, build something amazing using every Lego brick you can find, play a board game . . . or make some little birds out of salt dough!
Talk. (Really talk!)
Trust that the crisis will pass—whether you obsess over it or not.
And if you’re weathering this storm alone, why not use this time to catch up with friends and family (or maybe someone else who’s at home alone) with a phone call?
So please, put fear on hold (trust me, it will still be there later!), and choose to make this a happy time.
Choose to make the memories of the spring of 2020 memories of laughter and love.