Then and Now–A Year in Review

As last winter closed in a year ago, so did my life. Because of COVID, going to the grocery store was my only excursion (whoopee). There was no need to get gas—I wasn’t going anywhere. Sometimes I’d go for a drive just for a change of scenery. Yoga classes, my book groups, and writers’ groups all went to Zoom. 

My husband and I rarely saw our sons in person. At best, we visited for a few minutes as they stood in the doorway. Across the room we shivered in the frosty breeze. All of us masked. Even more chilling than the air was the understanding we couldn’t touch.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas, my husband and I planned menus along with our sons and their fiancées. Our three households shared what we’d cooked. The food was good and we were outwardly cheerful, but inwardly, I felt our aloneness deeply. 


For perspective, I watched shows about WWII and reminded myself that my life was way better than enduring the London bombing, the French occupation, or life on a naval destroyer as my father had. I was grateful we had healthcare and didn’t have to worry about being evicted. We were apart, but it wouldn’t last forever.

This year feels so much better. We are vaccinated and boosted. As long as I’m masked and keep some distance, I am free to work in the pottery studio, tutor, and shop in person. I am able to invite a few vaccinated friends over for a drink or dinner. We spread out and run the HEPA filter, but we can talk, laugh and interrupt each other in the natural conversational rhythms instead of the stilted stop-and-start of Zoom visits.

My life remains more restricted than it was pre-COVID. Dining in restaurants, watching movies in the theater, or flying are TBD. I avoid large gatherings and even assess the risks of events like indoor farmers’ markets.

But now we can do the most important things, like gathering for birthday dinners with our sons and their wives. We were able to be together at Thanksgiving. I’m so grateful the six of us can visit in person this Christmas. We’ll hug, laugh, and eat lots of good food. Pure joy.


COVID rewired my thinking. These days, our plans are provisional. Maybe. If. We’ll see. I’m careful to temper my hopes and rein in my worries. Letting either get away from me doesn’t serve me. 

I have a different, more realistic view about my ability to control anything. Life never was in my control—I just thought it was.

COVID isn’t going away anytime soon. I’m learning to live with it. Going forward, there will be times when the Delta/Omicron/Whatever variant is raging, and I’ll have to limit my activities, and there will be times when I’m less restricted. For now, I’m taking sensible precautions, assessing each situation case by case. I don’t expect “we’ll get back to normal.” This is the new normal. It isn’t all I wish for, but being able to see family and friends in person means a lot.

16 thoughts on “Then and Now–A Year in Review

  1. Wonderful, hopeful post, Ellen. We’re not there yet here in the northlands but you give me hope. Merry Christmas to you. Here’s to 2022.

  2. We had Christmas outside last year, in the snow, with a hot fire. This year we plan on being together, vaccinated and boosted, and we’ll take a test the day of. . . will it ever be over? I’m not sure, time keeps on slipping–into the future. Great blog that captures the ennui, hope, and human adaptation.

  3. No matter the season or reason, gratitude often seems to offer comfort.

    Even before the pandemic, I inwardly chuckled at the word “normal” . . . what does that mean anyway? 🙂

    Always enjoy reading your (and the others) writings. Thanks, Ellen!

    • Theresa, so nice to hear from you! I’m grateful for the difference between 2020 and 2021 and contrasting them helped me see it. Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll be healthy and happy in 2022!

  4. Personally, I have to hope that we’re not going to have to defer to Covid forever, as I do think science will eventually catch up with this horrible new disease. We’ve come pretty far already in our vaccines and treatment, and I take comfort in that. But I agree that caution is the way for the near future, and I’m so glad that you were able to enjoy the holidays with your family this year! We did the same…it was nice to be able to have mom over to have Thanksgiving dinner with us this year, as that couldn’t happen last year without the vaccines.

    • Thanks for reading! I think we’ve come a long way and I am grateful. While I don’t want to defer to COVID, I no longer think it will be eradicated. I think it will be around but will become more manageable. I’m glad you can share the holidays with your family–I hope you have a lovely time! And congratulations on the new grand baby to come!

  5. Sadly, your story makes complete sense. This is our new normal and we shall adjust and move forward. Enjoy your holidays celebrating with your family.

  6. I echo the same thoughts and feelings, Ellen. This has been one heckuva learning curve. Letting go, letting god is the name of the game.
    Glad you can now gather with your family, something we no longer take for granted. Enjoy your holidays!

  7. So true Ellen. I agree this probably is the new normal at least for the foreseeable future.
    Enjoy the Holidays! 🎄🥳

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