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Silver linings from a challenging year

Families had a lot of together time in 2020. Photo: LightFieldStudios

I don’t think there is anyone sad to see 2020 come to an end. What a year! My first column of the year is usually about looking forward to the year ahead, possibly making some resolutions or even tips for a family reset. But our family reset came last March when we all began to shelter in place along with working and going to school remotely. While I remain hopeful that 2021 will bring a return to more normalcy, if ever there were a year to reflect on, this is it. Covid has rocked our world, our country, our city, and our home lives; however, it hasn’t been all bad. So allow me to reflect and share some of those silver linings in hopes that you too may pause and find your own. 

FAMILY TIME

To say our family has spent a lot of time together over the last nine months would be an understatement. It was a big adjustment in the beginning as the kids needed to rely on each other for entertainment instead of their friends or teammates. However, even with healthy doses of bickering, they have all grown much closer and it has been amazing to watch those relationships grow and strengthen. 

My husband also traveled almost every week before the shutdown but hasn’t since March. As a result, we are able to have family dinner almost every night now, and he has time to do one of the things he enjoys most, which is cooking, and that has been a huge help. He even can adjust his schedule to help with school drop-offs or driving to sports practices, and although he will never admit it, I think he really enjoys it. We used to have to intentionally carve out time for a family movie or game night but now those happen all the time. 

Additionally, there is no longer stress and tension trying to get out the door for church on Sunday morning as we enjoy mass snuggled on the couch for a YouTube livestream. Especially with two teenagers in the house now, I am aware that although they would rather be doing things with their friends or playing sports, this is precious time that I will always cherish as we have watched them mature and persevere. 

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Our family has always enjoyed and spent time outdoors, but until March that mostly meant running from field to field or court and squeezing in a playground along the way. The pandemic brought youth sports to a screeching halt and for many months closed our playgrounds. 

I will always remember one Saturday morning in April when my son asked me what we were going to do all day. I admit those first few weekends were daunting, but as we adapted, we found joy in urban hikes, long walks with the dog to new neighborhoods, or packing a picnic to a socially distanced circle on the Marina Green. Then came the Slow Streets program and our world started to open up. We explored Golden Gate Park by bike, mapped out routes connecting Slow Streets to the ocean, and for the first time I wasn’t terrified about my kids riding their bikes or skateboarding on the streets of San Francisco. We have all come to appreciate that our parks and open spaces, which now include Slow Streets, are essential and have become an even more important part of daily life, especially for families. 

LITTLE THINGS

One of the greatest gifts the pandemic has given us is it forced us all to slow down and appreciate the little things. Who would have ever imagined we would end up being grateful for things like toilet paper? The pandemic has made us focus on the basics and being grateful for essential workers who make sure the shelves are stocked at the grocery store. 

It has made us also appreciate all our first responders who have been working so hard to keep us healthy and safe and remembering we wear a mask to protect them. We are grateful for technology — Facetime, Zoom, and Hangouts so we can still connect with family and friends. We have been blessed with good weather, so we are grateful for the ability to be outside. The pandemic has also taught us to appreciate the little things that we maybe took for granted before such as a hug, handshake, or the chance to see someone smile.  

Covid has definitely brought hardships and challenges, but I hope that one day when my children are telling their children what it was like to live through a pandemic, they won’t just remember how they had to wear a mask all the time or all that they couldn’t do but will remember the year we all slowed down and had more time to enjoy our city and each other. 

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