I guess you know things are getting serious when the TP jokes aren’t funny anymore. The stories of people who have gotten coronavirus start getting closer and closer to the circle of people you know and love and you realize this isn’t just something on TV, it’s something in your life. When you start searching on-line for the latest quarantine regulations, not so you can write a funny blog post about them but because you want to make sure you are doing everything you possibly can to protect you and your family—that’s when you know it’s just not funny anymore.

Last night before bed the boys prayed, “Thank you that school is canceled.” Even though we’ve been praying for small business owners, local restaurants, people who have gotten the virus and their loved ones, hospital workers who put their lives at risk every day to help the sick and dying—even though we talk about all that, the boys still just see this as a vacation. I didn’t point this out during prayers. I let them be thankful school is out, and I thought how there may be a day not too far off when the boys realize what a terrible thing it is when schools and libraries close down, and they start praying they can go to school again.

It’s scary not knowing how long this will last, how big it will get, how many more will die, how long we can keep up the quarantine, how different everyone’s lives will be by the end of it.

So I am going to borrow a page from my boys’ books and write the things that I am thankful for during this quarantine.

1. I’m thankful for the extra time I get with my boys and the quality of the time, since none of it is spent rushing and squeezing things into the day. We have time to ride bikes now. The neighborhood was full of kids riding bikes and playing hockey with plastic sticks in their driveways yesterday, the adults stopping six feet away from each other to chat and find reassurance from one another. I wish that when all this is over, we realize that our kids’ lives have been overbooked and we all decide to dial it back a bit.

2. I’m thankful the boys and I get to cook all day, every day. We go from biscuits and gravy for breakfast to chicken noodle soup for lunch to papas dauphinoise for dinner, mixing artisanal breads, cream pies, macarons, and soda bread in between. (When everyone else was buying the stores out of white bread, I was filling my cart with flour and yeast.) While the bread rises we start wondering about how yeast is harvested, and by the time the bread goes in the oven we’ve set up our own experiment to collect yeast from a bottle of beer. The quarantine has given us time to wonder.

3. I’m thankful I get to customize the boys’ education. We have an amazing public school system, but there are certain things I want them to learn that they aren’t getting in the classroom, like Spanish and typing, how to address an envelope, and how to write an essay to Mrs. Mouthy’s standards. Vincenzo is writing an expository essay on alloys; Rocco is building a basement-sized leprechaun trap; Leo is working on matching up daily life situations to appropriate emotions/reactions.

4. I’m thankful the garden is still on-limits.

5. I’m thankful that we have a trail running behind our house and countless outdoor places we can go to shake off the feeling that the world is ending, and that the quarantine fell on the first week that looks and feels like spring around here.

6. I’m thankful that my own family is strong and healthy and will likely survive if/when we get the coronavirus.

7. I’m thankful for all the people who keep the city running while the rest of us try to avoid the public—grocery store workers, gas station workers, medical workers, fire fighters, police, utilities workers, and about 1000 other jobs I don’t even know about, working behind the scenes.

8. I’m thankful that Kevin’s job isn’t very affected by all this and that he can work from home.

9. I’m thankful that we have phones and computers to stay in touch with our support group.

10. I’m grateful that the people I love the most are the ones I am stuck with.

For each of the things on my list, I know there are people on the other side of the equation. Those who don’t have outdoor spaces, who have an unhappy or unsafe living space, whose health is already fragile, who are losing their jobs, whose lives are not merely inconvenienced but are devastated by the quarantine. My heart hurts for them. The quarantine is isolating, but it makes me want to reach out to others more than ever.

I hope that despite the hardships, they, too, are able to find things they are thankful for.

Baked potatoes
Irish soda bread
Kiwi and green apples
Triple layer lime Jell-o
Bailey’s Irish Creme cheesecake

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