During one of our daily neighborhood walks, my twelve-year-old son said out loud what most of us have been thinking.
“This is hard.”
It is hard. It’s hard when the world, as he’s always known it, is so vastly different. It’s hard when he can’t hug and kiss his grandparents. When he can’t go to school (and this is a boy who loves school).
We talked about it. About how sometimes it’s easier than others. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem so bad. We’re all sleeping in a bit later than we would be if the world was back to normal.
And other times, it just feels like too much. Too many unanswered questions. Too many fears.
I’m a list person. So I thought one way to help would be to make a list of the ways in which our family is doing good, the ways we’re helping and contributing. Because we have it easy. We’re not frontline workers. We are able to pay our bills each month and continue to put food on the table.
And the best part of the list is realizing that there are so many ways each of us can help.
1. Follow the guidelines. We keep our distance when we’re out walking or biking in the neighborhood, and we’re washing our hands more than we ever did before.
2. Shopping only when needed. I used to go to the market weekly. It was something my son and I did each Saturday. But now, venturing into the market feels like I’m entering a battle zone. I’m armed with my hand sanitizer and mask. I try not to browse. I check my list, get in, and get out as quickly as possible. And I’m stocking up so we don’t have to go out each week.
3. Thanking others. I don’t always get to the door quickly enough to offer our mail carrier or delivery person a bottle of water. But after we hear the mail drop through the slot or a box bang against our front door, we yell out “thank you.” I hope the delivery person hears us. I hope it makes them smile.
4. Support local spots. We visit one of our favorite cafes each week. We purchase lunch and bring it back home. It saves me from preparing a meal, but more than that, it provides some monetary support to a small business.
5. Make a monetary donation. We learned through our favorite cafe (see #4 above) that there was a way to help not only the cafe but our frontline workers as well. Restaurants are preparing meals that are then delivered to local doctors and nurses. It’s a win-win for everyone, and a cause our family felt good about donating to.
6. Shop online. I don’t think I’ve ever done this much online shopping before. I like to browse. To wander in my local Barnes and Noble (click here to read my blog post “Who Else Misses Libraries and Bookstores?”). To go to Target not just with a list of things I need but with an eye open for a surprise, an unexpected treasure that would make a great gift for a family member or friend. Instead, we’re being responsible, buying online the things we need, and once in a while, a few items we want. (I recently ordered former President Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams from My Father, a book that has been on my want-to-read list for several years now.)
7. Purchase With a Cause. Originally we were wearing the masks that were included in our emergency backpacks. They got the job done, but they were rather scratchy and plain looking. We’ve since upgraded to “Los Angeles Clippers Face Coverings.” Not only are we protecting ourselves and others while showing our team spirit, all proceeds are donated to Feeding America.
8. 8:00 pm Cheering. Each night at 8:00 pm, our family either opens the front door or stands near one of our windows and starts cheering. My son whoops and hollers like he’s at a Clippers game. My husband and I clap our hands. When we pause, we hear others clapping and shouting and horns honking. It’s one small way to show our appreciation to our frontline workers and one way to feel connected with our community.
9. Cleaning Out Closets. We’ve spent some of this time at home going through my son’s closet and bookcases. We have a full bag of gently used clothing, books, and games ready to donate to Baby2Baby as soon as they’re taking donations again. It’s nice to know that the items that my son enjoyed will soon make another child happy.
10. Express Gratitude. It won’t change anything to start listing all the reasons why we’re unhappy about this shutdown. Instead, it’s important to remember that we’re lucky. My husband is employed. My son is completing his sixth grade year. We’re together. We’re safe. We’re healthy.
And right now, we can’t ask for more than that.
Readers, what are you doing during the shutdown? What helps you get through the difficult days? Feel free to share in the comments section.