The Covid Files – Entertaining In Relative Distance

The Covid outbreak upended everyones’ lives in early Spring of this year but most of us have found ways to adapt as we closed out Summer. Our family certainly has, but our workarounds are soon going to require workarounds.

After hunkering in our bunker, Marianne and I got adventurous in early June and planned a socially distant way of coming together for Father’s Day in June. A visit from our eldest son who came in from out of town sort of forced our hand, and not being willing to waste the opportunity for all of us to come together, we hatched a plan.

Our plan involved our large, wide, tree-shaded driveway and the garage that ajoins it. All of those camp chairs we bought back in the days of spectating at kids’ soccarbasefootsoft ball games were brought out from their corners, along with the wooden TV trays we got for a wedding gift and which Marianne has grown to dislike so that outdoor use is perfectly fine.

Chairs/tables were grouped in a wide circle, food was cooked and served up by people in masks and gloves and for a little while there was a kinda sorta normalcy as we luxuriated in the company of family (that now kinda sorta includes the loved ones of our loved ones, who have become loved ones in their own right).

With the hard work of planning done, the template was set for a handful of subsequent get togethers. We are not known as entertainers but have done our best to provide the place for family to come together or to visit with a few old friends. With the system down to more-or-less a science, our only variables have become the menu and whether the weather will force us into the garage.

We had a reprise this past week for our daughter’s birthday. Burgers were grilled, Marianne’s family-famous potato salad was served and our old hand-crank ice cream freezer got its second workout of the year. Or should I say that those of us who did the cranking got our workout. A quartet of healthy twenty-somethings is a great benefit here.

It occurred to me that it was a nearly perfect evening. Good food, better company and virtually perfect weather saw us all in the driveway as we enjoyed our ice cream at sunset. The other thing that dawned on me (if it is possible for something to dawn at sunset) was that we live in a part of the country where our system will soon become untenable.

We probably have another month where we might be able to get by with heavy sweatshirts and maybe a firebowl, but once November hits the fun will be over. Maybe line idling cars up sideways in front of the open garage door with heat blasting through open windows on one side? There are probably about fifty reasons why this isn’t a good idea, only one of which being that it probably wouldn’t work all that well anyway.

The traditional holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are usually well-celebrated in our extended clan but we sit scratching our little heads about how we are going to make this work. Going back to the Zoom brunch we shared at Easter seems pretty lame at this point.

How about you all – any thoughts on how to combine cold-weather holidays and social distancing? This will probably get written to death starting around the first of November, but it can’t hurt to get a head start.

Photo credit – opening artwork offered free at Pixabay

15 thoughts on “The Covid Files – Entertaining In Relative Distance

  1. Good idea on the driveway get-together but how to accomplish similar in cold weather is a toughie.

    Perhaps a BYOFP (Bring Your Own Fire Bowl) stipulation so everyone has their own heat source. The neighbors may think your house is on fire, but a gathering of a similar format as last time would be attainable.

    This whole ordeal has been tough on everybody. I have seen no blood relations (other than my daughter) since February; that includes being told to not come to my grandfather’s funeral in July. This pandemic has truly altered many things although, on the flip side, it has prompted a degree of creativity in people I’ve never seen before. So there is indeed a positive in everything, regardless of how bad the wrapper.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If it was only me, I might be inclined to go back to my original inclination which is to go about life normally figuring to catch it, then be done. The numbers for a mild case and a quick recovery are in my favor (though certainly not 100%). But I am not the only resident of my household, and my Mrs is a bit more at risk than me and less inclined to accept the risk of infection – an opinion I respect and work hard to accommodate.

      I am sure we will figure something out, but what that looks like at the moment – I have no idea.


  2. Thanksgiving and Christmas will look very different for us too. As long as the numbers of infection are above zero in the areas where our loved ones come from, we shouldn’t put ourselves at risk by being in a house with them. If we do, we could possibly bring the infection back to our community, putting others at risk as well. Most of the cases, in our province at least, have come from people attending gatherings without any precautions taken.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I bought a propane fire pit for our deck and it’s not as warm as I had hoped, so it looks like it will get us through October, maaaaybe into November, but that will be that. I don’t know what Thanksgiving looks like here either. My poor mom lives alone, and it’s her favorite holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe you aren’t close enough to the fire pit? 🙂

      That’s a tough spot for your Mom. I cannot imagine how much harder things would have been if my Mom had lived into the spring or summer.


  4. Your gatherings are an example of the upside of this pandemic. Someone could/should devote a blog to this topic – the big and little things we’re doing and seeing which wouldn’t happen pre-COVID. My brothers and I established a standing Zoom meeting once a month. Prior to the pandemic we only talked on birthdays and during the holidays, so it’s actually kind of nice getting to know each other again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi JP,

    Long-term lurker here,courtesy of Jim Grey.

    You’re maybe closer to farming territory than some city folk are; how easy would it be to rent a barn for Thanksgiving?

    Family can chip in for the cost, rent/borrow/steal (just kidding!) small tables and chairs to accommodate 2 people safely, look at space heaters (if allowed) for the heating and heat the barn the day before.

    Mask up as normal.

    Rent/borrow a deep fryer and deep fry the turkey (tastes a little different, but won’t kill you).

    Cook all the rest of the food early on the day and bring in insulated containers (e.g. hay boxes).

    That’s provided, of course, you don’t hire a barn 20 miles away.

    Maybe hire an RV with a modest kitchen-stove and hot plates?

    Do the cooking there.

    Have cooked a roast lunch for family of 5 before, on single burner Coleman stoves, when we lost the electricity during a storm.

    It’s not ideal, but with family helping, invoking the camping spirit might just get you to where you want to be.

    Love reading the blog; between you and Jim, with all the history, I’m learning so much.



    PS: I’m a Brit, so revelling in your local (Indiana) history at present.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David, thanks for taking the time to comment! These are some interesting ideas, for certain. There are not that many of us at present, so I suppose setting up in an empty garage would serve the same purpose as a barn somewhere. And deep-fried turkey has been a trend here in the midwestern US for several years now, though we have stuck to the traditional oven-roast method.

      Isn’t the internet great? I have likewise learned quite a bit of cultures from other places, including the UK. I need to dive a little deeper into learning the regional differences which are doubtless just as pronounced as they are here. Cheers and good health to you and yours!


  6. Well, you had a plan and a good one JP … I guess I’d say that if you could socially gather in the driveway, you can do it in Winter too. I’m thinking along the line of warming tents – in Detroit, we have an annual event called “The Winter Blast” … it began in 2005, as a test run for Super Bowl XL in 2006. The big game was in Detroit and Detroit wanted to show off its City and kind of reinvent itself. So the trial run in ’05 meant bringing in snow machines or trucking in snow (in case the real thing wasn’t around), there were sled dog races and toboggan runs … great fun, but people get cold, so the City had warming tents and when people got cold, they went inside where they could get hot chocolate or coffee and it was warm enough to take your coat off. I am sure these warming tents are available for rent, on a much-smaller scale. They likely bring tables and chairs for inside when they set up the tent and/or if you have a picnic table, it would be fun to take pics sitting dining on the brushed-off picnic table sitting around a fire bowl. Then scurry back to the warming tent. You could go all-out and have it catered inside the tent. I’d do that if it were me to preserve as much normalcy as possible. I have no relatives so it is just me so no fanfare for me. I hope you can have an in-person get together On my news station today, I heard that 85% of people still plan to celebrate Christmas – wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We hosted the Super Bowl several years ago and were blessed to have pretty decent weather that week – of course we are several hundred miles south of Detroit, so warmer temps should be expected.

      Thanks for the ideas, they are good ones.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We were supposed to have a snowstorm that day of SB XL and so the worry was that visitors may be stranded at airports and not get there timely. But the heavy snow didn’t happen. Ford Field is an indoor stadium so there were no worries about cold or snow for the actual game. You’re welcome JP – I hope that a warming tent might be the answer and whether you have the event catered, or make your own food, that the event is a success.


  7. I have no idea but think it’s going to be, in the words of the Beatles, “a long cold lonely winter.” Space heaters are already in short supply here as all the restaurants have already bought them up hoping to extend their patio season as indoor seating is still limited.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am not surprised at the heater shortage. It seems that modern methods of inventory control are not designed to handle the occasional demand spikes from unusual events. Generators after a tornado, snow blowers after a blizzard and outdoor heaters as we go into a fall with Covid all seem to go together.

      Liked by 1 person

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