Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Finding “Joy” As the Pandemic Drags On

There are many reasons to be sad and depressed as the pandemic drags on and “normal” life as we knew it at the beginning of the year now seems a distant dream after seven months of self-isolation. But as I communicate with friends and family who led far more active lives than we in retirement had been living, I hear reasons for appreciation (if not necessarily joy) for the slowed-down pace of life that people are now experiencing. My family is exceedingly lucky, being able to slow down without actually losing the source of their livelihood or exposing themselves to risky situations that are out of their control. The upcoming election with its constant bombardment of conflicting views and uncertainty about the future of this country threatens to undo any sense of well-being that we might steal for ourselves by trying to live in the moment. Nevertheless, we must keep hoping for a better world, doing what we can to bring it about, and trying to create small moments of joy for ourselves and those we love so that we all can keep our sanity until we emerge from under this dark cloud. In short, we must count our blessings and do what we can to create as many blessings as possible during these bleak times. 

As I look back on my photos since I last posted here on August 27, I realize that many of the photos are of food. Yes, in our family, and probably many others, beautiful food, lovingly prepared, is a great source of joy. We have just finished celebrating our High Holy Days and harvest festivals for 2020. We did not observe or celebrate in the usual ways this year, but there were many creative and meaningful ways that our clergy devised to bring us together in prayer and bring us joy. We have many new friends, met over Zoom, and Teams, and FaceTime, to whom we would have just given a nod at services in the past. In addition, people are not limited to their physical locations. People can access each other regardless of physical disability or even old age, which keeps us all from feeling isolated. We may not be able to give each other a hug, or a handshake, right now, but that does not keep us from interacting and sharing our lives with each other in a very personal and meaningful way.

Just having two of our granddaughters living with us, now, has been a great and constant source of joy for Saul and me. Although there are moments of bickering, frustration, and depression, I think we all appreciate how lucky we are to have each other. Sami and Izzy, while they are each attending their schools remotely, have bonded over playing video games, such as Animal Crossings, together, helping each other with schoolwork, discussing anime series they follow, cooking what they have decided they crave, taking long drives together to pick up take-out food, and visiting their Grammy, who lives about 45 minutes away, a few days a week. They, too, have their remote friends whom they cannot touch, but who appear regularly on their screens even though they may be 10,000 miles apart.

Lastly, there is no discounting the beauty of our weather and surroundings here in Florida. We have our own pool and hot tub which we can use all year around. We have a landscape that provides exotic flowers and fruit all year around. We have wildlife that never ceases to amaze. Almost daily, the sunsets alone are enough to produce joy, if nothing else does. It’s all in the appreciation!

Some of the other highlights of the last few months have been: Sami making ramen from scratch; celebrating Elaine’s birthday with a carrot cake; Izzy giving us amazing haircuts! watching our plants develop amazing flowers; preparing an Apple Honey Cake from my cookbook, Bubbie’s Kitchen, which I am preparing to put up online (I haven’t made it in over 30 years); getting round challot, both regular and rainbow prepared for Rosh Hashanah; making apple butter cookies, zucchini bread, and date bread sandwiches for the holiday and sending them to friends, preparing a requested Presley Bella Angel Food Cake for Ted’s 90th birthday and celebrating it together (socially distanced) on our lanai on a lovely evening; receiving a beautiful blue and white bouquet of fresh flowers from Elaine; enjoying lunch together on both days of Rosh Hashanah; a surprise package that arrived from Jessica and Alex containing a whole collection of adorable honey bears that contained many different kinds of honey to add to our “now vast” honey collection; Sami making gorgeous and delicious moon cakes for the Chinese Moon Festival on October 1 and sharing them with our neighbors; preparing with Sami Erik’s birthday cake, with a requested sour cream pound cake, layered with meringue, fresh mango, mango coulis, and cream cheese icing and celebrating with Haley, Erik, and Ken (socially distanced) on the lanai. Haley and Erik have rented a beautiful vacation villa nearby and will be here in Florida for the next eight months!

There was a lot about which to be joyful! My recommendation to all of us, to help us get through this, is to search out what small things you can do that bring you joy in your life, and even after the pandemic ends, and hopefully that will be soon, do whatever brings you and your loved ones joy on a daily basis.

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