One of my many pleasures is hosting my two annual Ladies’ Luncheons, one in the winter and one in the summer. I started these luncheons a few years ago by inviting some close friends, a group comprising 12 of us, ranging in age from 46 to 84 years old.
Although the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of these annual luncheons in 2019 and 2020, I happily resumed my winter one in February of 2021, after six of us were fully vaccinated.
Our luncheon agenda does not vary: after we chat informally, we devote a block of time to discussing a serious topic, such as: What personal/professional goals have you set for yourself in the coming year? How are you experiencing aging? Our discussions typically last for several hours.
At our recent winter luncheon, I proposed this topic: In what ways, for better or worse, has the pandemic affected you?
Here are the highlights of what was shared.
- “I feel I became closer to several family members. We were in touch more often, and many of our conversations tended to be more personal, deeper, and meaningful.”
- “This was a time for me to closely assess my relationships with family and friends and to focus on the important ones and to let others fall by the wayside. Many of my decisions were governed by political differences.”
- “Prior to the pandemic, I was not aware of the extent of those suffering food, housing, and financial insecurities in this country. Seeing those long lines of cars hoping to pick up groceries motivated me to donate to organizations I had never before heard of, like World Central Kitchen and Feeding America.”
- “The pandemic has affected the pace of how I am living my life — the adage ‘Stop and smell the roses’ has taken on new meaning for me. I have literally and figuratively slowed down to look around me and to be more aware of what I am doing and why I am doing it. I have become more introspective. The result is less rushing to get to the next thing and more enjoyment and appreciation of the present moment.”
- “Learning about the move from in-person classrooms to online education has made me more aware that too many kids are lacking in basics, such as food and access to digital devices and connections. The huge disparity between the kids who are economically and socially at risk, and those who aren’t, is much greater than I ever realized. This realization will continue to inform my political choices.”
- “I am heartened by the number of people who came forward to do good things during this troubling time. For example, volunteers collecting food and delivering it; farmers donating excess products to food banks; neighbors, many of whom did not know each other, looking out for each other; restaurants accepting whatever payments their customers could afford; kids making various things to share with others, such as baked goods and masks. And the list goes on and on.”
- “The quarantines and stay-in-place directives helped me simplify my life in the kitchen. For example, when I was food shopping online, I would get just the basics that I needed, and I forego some of the more exotic and pricey spices and ingredients needed to follow more complicated recipes. These simple meals were delicious and nutritious.”
- “And while you were simplifying your cooking, I was expanding mine! Being homebound, I tried all kinds of recipes that I wouldn’t have otherwise tried.”
- “Now that we who are fully vaccinated and can safely get together indoors, I have to say that it is so liberating not having to wear a mask all the time when around others and not constantly thinking about six feet of separation.”
- “This past year has made me lighten up when it comes to money. I was raised by parents who lived through the1929 Great Depression, so keeping to a strict budget, always saving, always price comparing, and wanting to leave as much as possible to the younger generations in our family is ingrained in me. I still have those values, but to a lesser degree. I’ve become more ‘YOLO!’ [You only live once].”
- “Same here. Being aware of so much suffering and deprivation, knowing so many lost loved ones to Covid-19 or are dealing with some lingering effects of it, has motivated me to make plans to do some things sooner rather than later – like trips, or spending more time with family and friends. Lives were quickly transformed in so many horrible ways by Covid-19. I have definitely become more of a ‘make hay while the sun shines’ sort of person.”
- “Being retired, adhering to quarantine and isolation was easier for me to carry out. I’d like to think that if I were younger and still working that I would be up to the challenges required, but I am not sure I would have had the stamina, courage, and fortitude to carry off what so many have done. Makes me wonder ….”
Yes, this past year of a pandemic has made us wonder about a lot of things. It has produced many challenges, changes, and raised questions, many of which will have enduring consequences.
I am hopeful my bi-annual, intergenerational Ladies’ Luncheons will continue. They provide a unique opportunity to share different perspectives and to learn from each other, as well as provide an opportunity for new friendship to develop.
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