We are now about nine months into the pandemic. Many have tried to maintain sanity by making jokes (today is the 265th day of March) as we all hear the same phrases used over and over (“in these unprecedented times” and “you’re on mute” come to mind).
There was added excitement over the warmer months when we felt a sense of freedom as we could enjoy nice weather and many restrictions were eased. But as the year went on, we saw the likelihood of the pandemic’s end coming before the end of 2020 look less and less likely as company work-from-home policies kept pushing out the return date.
The school year started with many students not in the classroom, but at home attempting to learn virtually. While students, teachers and parents all have said it has gone smoother than it did in the spring, the joy and social aspect are gone from in-person learning.
Now we are finding ourselves in the midst of another time of the year we hoped we wouldn’t experience socially distant from one another- the so-called “most wonderful time of the year.” The annual gatherings with friends, family and colleagues at restaurants, offices and other public places are not happening, and holidays are advised to be spent only with immediate households. And the unfortunate numbers of new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths are daily reminders of why we must continue to be careful.
So what can we do to bring light to this dark period? Plenty! Let’s start with lights…
A favorite annual tradition for many is taking a tour of holiday lights. For some this is simply driving or walking around their neighborhood to see the biggest and brightest displays at nearby homes. For others, they may also seek out the homes that sync up their lights to a radio station. This year, there are also many professional displays including one at the State Fairgrounds. These events keep you in the comfort and safety of your vehicle.
Even though shoppers are continually resorting to online shopping, many of us still prefer going in-person for our shopping – especially for gifts. Thankfully, health officials have found retail establishments are a low-risk place for spreading the virus due to shorter visits and a mask requirement. If you usually dread the idea of going to stores in December for fear of crowds, this year you should have an easier time finding a parking space and elbow room once inside. A comment I’ve seen online is now is the time to give back to those small businesses in your community who have agreed so often to donate to an auction for your school, church and more.
While we cannot dine and drink inside our favorite restaurants and taprooms, we can still show them our support by ordering takeout. Gift cards also make excellent gifts, including for yourself. We all have our favorite places to dine; pick out your top few and show them your support this season.
Finally, while it isn’t the same as being in person, you can still fire up the virtual meeting to connect with friends and family this year. This technology is a great way to stay connected and see people you might not normally see. Show your creativity by wearing a fun sweater, decorating Gingerbread houses and anything else you can think of that can be done virtually.
This holiday season will be one to remember. But it can also be one to remember for starting new traditions. Be safe, be creative and be thankful for what you have this year. May 2021 be a year that brings us a COVID vaccine and lessons learned from the challenges of 2020.