Late last week I found myself sitting behind the backstop at my son’s middle school baseball game, cheering for the players and laughing with the other moms. The sun was out and the field was packed with parents and grandparents just the way I remember it before COVID-19 turned the world upside down.
The next day I went into Dave’s Market and to my delight, their free coffee station was back in action after a 14-month hiatus. I literally stopped to watch a fellow shopper add just the right amount of cream to her coffee, stir it, and put a plastic lid on the cup. A small and perhaps mundane moment that, to me, symbolized so much.
It got me thinking, what do others see as happy signs that life is returning to normal? What small wins are they celebrating as restrictions finally loosen around them?
So I asked.
Church is a biggie. Hymnals have reappeared. Holy water is back in the baptismal font. Seating is not assigned or spaced out as before. Communion is as it used to be. Even those who are still required to wear masks are grateful to be singing from the pews again.
Proms and graduations are also high on the list. After so many cancellations last year, in-person graduations and proms, though often modified, are cause for celebration. I must confess that seeing prom pictures all over my social media feeds over the weekend made me smile. Kids and parents were smiling, everyone looked like a million bucks, and I found myself feeling a touch of joy even though no one in my family had any personal connection to the prom. I felt the same looking at all the pictures of graduates in their caps and gowns.
But there are also lots of little things that have people feeling grateful and more alive.
Return to business travel after 15 months on Zoom, staff face to face and sharing a meal.
Walking up to a restaurant, mask in hand, and seeing that the “mask required” sign is no longer there.
Hugs. The past year has been a major challenge for all the huggers – warning to the non-huggers that we are making up for lost time.
My college roommate offered up, “I had five baseball games, a soccer game and a flag football game this weekend! Glorious!” I concur totally, but, my God, the laundry is also piling up like old times. On the bright side, it is so great to see the fields teeming with people again.
Smiles. People are keenly aware of much they’ve missed seeing people’s faces.
Grandparents are reuniting with their grandchildren.
People are back to buying concert tickets, renting beach houses and booking trips (or taking the trips they had to postpone last year) .
Children are having birthday parties – sleepovers, even!
Families can go out for ice cream and actually sit down at a table to eat rather than immediately get back in their cars.
This is all very good news, worthy of a maskless smile and a very big hug.
Sanzi is the director of outreach at Parents Defending Education and a former educator and school committee member. She writes at Sanzi.substack.com.