I have started and stopped and written and rewritten this article for days. I can’t figure out what is causing my writer’s block. I usually know what I want to say each month, although it may take me a while to get it to read the way I want. As I was mulling over my conundrum, it occurred to me that it was 2020’s fault. You see, even though you are reading this in 2021, it is still 2020 for me—that seemingly never-ending year of pandemic, lockdown, and avoidance.
I thought about doing a month-to-month year in review, but realized I could sum it up in one paragraph. So, what to write? As this column is about being a grandparent, and the many things that go with that title, this year interfered somewhat with that.
The start of 2020 wasn’t so bad; the virus, although already in the United States, had not really reared its ugly head as it would in the coming months. My husband and I got in a lovely trip to Canada – that would, unfortunately, be our last big trip of the year. Traveling was curtailed, even to Charlotte, as the virus ramped up. This meant not seeing our precious grandkids, which was so immensely difficult. FaceTime is great, but absolutely not the same.
As schools closed and virtual learning started, our school-aged grands had to adjust to myriad changes in their days and lives. While their moms were able to be home with them, the effects it had on them varied. Their schedules were turned upside down: no field trips; no after-school activities; playgrounds, parks, and beaches closed; no play dates or social gatherings of any kind. As grandparents, we missed being with our grandson on his birthday; a family spring-break trip; grandparents’ day at school; and the end-of-school-year ceremonies.
As spring moved into summer, things slowly opened up. Our out-of-town grandkids came to Wilmington for a brief stay. Although they rented a house to continue social distancing, we finally got to be together. Our next visit with them didn’t happen until Halloween. Even though we are family, we have to remember that even though we all follow the rules with social distancing, masks, and hand washing, we can’t know who our children and grandchildren have come into contact with, and vice-versa.
As the Charlotte grandchildren go to a private school, it opened up in September with a host of safety procedures in place. Even our visit at Halloween kept us alert—more for the children than for us. We were not about to bring even a sniffle into the house that would keep them out of school.
After initial quarantining, we have seen our in-town grands on a regular basis. We all have procedures in place, and not one of us would endanger anyone else. It has been wonderful to be able to connect with them. We have been able to enjoy dinners, birthdays, and whenever-we-want-to get-togethers. It brings us great joy and lifts our spirits like nothing else can. To us, family is everything!
This really hit home when we spent the weekend after Thanksgiving in Charlotte. That Saturday, we made our annual trip to Ashe County to find the perfect Christmas tree. Staying away from crowds, our usual restaurant lunch was a picnic at a park. The tree being found and pictures taken, we returned to Charlotte to spend the night, before returning home on Sunday. After telling our daughter what special memories the trip always makes, she called later that night to let us know how glad they were that we came, and how our grands were teary-eyed, saying how much they missed us.
This year, I am not going to make any of my usual New Year’s resolutions—most of them become momentary blips throughout the year anyway. Instead, I will fervently pray on a daily basis that 2021 brings an end to the distressing year 2020; that we will find ourselves enjoying some normalcy and can once again embrace our family and friends and never take being together for granted.
I wish you all much health and happiness throughout 2021!