Terry McLaughlin: Savor this time with your families | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Savor this time with your families

Terry McLaughlin

What a strange time we are living in today. When we welcomed in the new year on Jan. 1, no one could have predicted that three months later our lives would have changed so dramatically.

We are social creatures and most of us crave interaction with our friends and family, so the self-imposed isolation in which we find ourselves can be challenging, but does not have to be overwhelming.

As I looked outside my window this morning, while enjoying a rich cup of coffee, I noticed that my neighborhood was literally glowing as the sunlight glistened off the pure white snow still on the ground after the most recent storm. Below my deck were four young deer frolicking and playing in the snow, as though they were performing just for my delight. Would I have noticed them if I were dashing off for my regular morning errands and meetings?

Circumstances are forcing all of us to slow down and to adjust our expectations, but we are resilient people and despite the disruption of our “normal” lives, positive outcomes may result. Today all of my grandchildren are being home-schooled, along with hundreds of thousands of children around the country. But rather than a burden, this opportunity presents a myriad of opportunities for us and our children to learn how to work out conflicts, celebrate victories, and grow closer together. Take the time to play games, read aloud, plan and prepare healthy meals together, create an indoor or backyard scavenger hunt, ride a bike, go for a hike, build a tree house, share old photo albums and family stories — the possibilities are endless.

This forced respite from their daily routine may end up creating some of the best memories your children will recall later in life.

There are many online resources for lessons and activities to do with your children. Check out weareteachers.com and matr.org for math activities and games to do at home. Visit Docsgoogle.com for links to over 30 virtual field trips including the San Diego Zoo, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Yellowstone National Park, and even Mars! Try preschoolinspirations.com for the Best Kid Yoga Videos. Coolprogeny.com features some of your favorite children’s authors hosting story times. Khanacademy.org and kidsdiscover.com offer multiple educational materials and lessons. Make this a time that can enrich both your childrens’ educations and your familial relationships.

Stay connected to those family members not in your household. Today’s amazing technology provides us methods to not only speak to our loved ones, but to see them on our smartphones or computer screens. We can literally share dinner time with them, or read a book to our grandchildren. And don’t forget that our mail carrier is our friend! Let your loved ones know you are thinking of them by sending funny cards, short notes, or small gifts — all delivered safely to their mailbox or doorstep.

My daughter is encouraging the children of her friends and neighbors to share colorful chalk pictures and happy messages on their sidewalks. Some neighborhoods are hanging Christmas lights again, in order to create a festive community feeling amongst them.

One of the most difficult separations for many is that of their church and faith community. When forced to close the doors to their physical facilities and gathering places, most of our local churches have been able to offer some type of online connection and guidance to fulfill our spiritual needs as much as possible. Maintaining our spiritual health during this trying time is just as important as maintaining our physical health. We are all grateful for the efforts being made by our priests, pastors, ministers and rabbis.

While we are all trying to remain connected, whether through social media, telephone calls, emails, texts, leaving messages in mailboxes, or writing them on the sidewalk, we mustn’t forget those in the community who are struggling. Our local businesses are suffering even more than was experienced during the planned power outages. Do what you can to continue to support them during this period – many restaurants are offering quality take-out food which can be delivered to your car, as are some other local outlets for consumable items. Even my favorite local winery is offering online or telephone orders which can be delivered to your car or your home. Many have suggested purchasing gift certificates now, which can be used in the future, from your favorite restaurants and vendors. All of these actions will help our local businesses weather this storm.

Our nonprofits are in a quandary, as many of their volunteers are senior citizens who are considered to be at the highest risk for serious infection. As a result, most, if not all, of the local thrift shops are closed and there are few shoppers venturing out for nonessential items. If you are in a position to do so, please remember them and make cash donations to your favorite organizations, as they strive to continue their important missions within our community.

And, as was suggested by one of my family members, for those of you who cleaned out the supermarket shelves of toilet paper and dried beans, why not take some of those provisions and create a care package for the senior living next door?

We are all on this journey together, and we must each act responsibly to keep our community safe. Follow the advisories of our health officials. Stay connected. Be kind. Be patient. Pray. Tell stories. Love each other. Savor this time together with your families.

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Grass Valley, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.

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