My husband started talking about the coronavirus in early January. He’s an avid news junkie and knows about everything before I do. By February, he was encouraging me to stock our pantry. I was embarrassed to double our grocery order three weeks in a row, but by early March, it was clear he was on to something.
On Saturday, March 14, our schools dismissed for three weeks — we were cautiously optimistic that things would turn around during that time. On Wednesday, March 18, I left the office at ten a.m. for a doctor’s appointment, and I haven’t been back. There are packages on my desk and meals prepped in my mini-fridge and a sweater hanging on the back of my chair. Aside from maternity leave, this the longest stretch of time I’ve been away from the office. In those last few days of normalcy, I ran by the grocery store again, I grabbed a little extra cash from the bank, we ordered supplies for our home renovation, and talked through work-from-home scenarios. Never once did the upcoming Easter holiday cross my mind.
Easter was exactly a month away, when I left the office that day. My Easter baskets are usually pretty close to complete by then, but I wasn’t worried. Yet. I kept thinking that our life would normalize again and I could run by the Target Dollar Spot and our favorite local shops and place a few well-timed online orders. It wasn’t until last week that I started to panic.
I know there has been some debate about what constitutes an essential trip into town, but keeping some normalcy in our children’s lives and celebrating a beloved holiday seems pretty essential to me. I ran to Walmart the moment they opened, with a list full of basket filler ideas. I’ve never bought every item (x3!) in one trip before, so my shopping cart looked a little ridiculous. While most people were searching for toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I was picking out pajamas and jigsaw puzzles and new water bottles. I cried in the greeting card aisle, while a recorded message played over head: Please maintain a six foot distance at all times.
I always joke that our extended family is abnormally normal. Every family has its quirks, but almost everyone in our family is still married, all of the cousins come home for family functions, and we vacation together (all 35+ of us). It’s odd to go a few days without seeing one of my mom’s siblings, and we have a massive group text among my generation, full of parenting advice, funny memes, and summer plans. This season of self-isolation has been strange. We would normally be planting flowers and dusting chairs and planning for a huge Sunday potluck lunch. We would be counting plastic eggs and reminding everyone to bring their bats for an afternoon softball game. It’s weird to know that this Sunday, we’ll be celebrating at home, alone.
We might not have Easter outfits, but my kitchen has all of the holiday breakfast necessities — coffee, cinnamon rolls, the makings for sausage balls and pigs in a blanket. I bought 48 plastic eggs, since I felt guilty about dyeing real ones. I placed a last-minute Target order for new bathing suits, just in case my thrown together baskets look sad. I gathered supplies for communion, and we’ll be meeting virtually with our church on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Nothing has looked normal these last four weeks, so I’m prepared for this holiday to look different, too. I’ve done everything I can to make it fun and as special and as spiritual as it can be. I’m hoping when my girls look back on this season, that amidst the uncertainty and fear, they remember these makeshift holidays and memories we made together.