It was bad enough that we couldn't take our mom for her traditional Mother's Day lobster dinner at The Palm (although we never celebrate it on the actual day as restaurants are too crowded). Thanks to the pandemic, restaurants were either closed or take-out only. Given our mom is in her 90s and has pre-existing conditions, she was distancing herself from the rest of the world and basically secluded at home. (Something, by the way, she's definitely not happy about.)
We never dreamed, however, that …
six months later we'd have to forego her November birthday celebration, which is the same lobster dinner at the same restaurant. Clearly for our Mom, going out to dinner at a nice restaurant with her daughters has always been a special treat and something she looks forward to (or maybe it's just the lobster). While, for Red, going out to eat used to be a fun and relaxing escape from cooking at home, now it's a risk-reward decision filled with anxiety and stress. And always the same decision, "Not worth it." For Black, it's always been a "social thing" as she's had a long-standing (decades long!) Saturday night date with her best friends, John and Diana. Now, they visit over the phone and laugh about how much lower their AmEx bills are every month.
From a strictly pragmatic perspective – How do you maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household when you go out to eat? Obviously, you have to take off your mask to eat and drink (although there are masks that accommodate straws). Is it even feasible to go out to eat with people not in your "personal bubble"? Climate and weather permitting, how safe is it to eat outdoors?
But it's the emotional implications that make it so difficult. We're now in the midst of what Red calls the "silly season" where dining out and holiday parties have always been such a big part of celebrating the season. The pandemic has been with us for almost a year and we just want a break. A holiday break. So, now what?
The answers will be different for everyone, as we all have our own way of looking at risk-reward. Most of us are already struggling with holidays that are celebrated with food, family, and friends. Maybe if we focus on the holiday spirit, recognizing we're all facing the same challenges, and try to keep things in perspective, knowing next year will be better. And mix in a little humor …
Got your mask? Check. Have your battle plan ready. Check. Ready to keep distance. Check. Going into battle? No, just going out to eat.
P.S. – For those of you wondering about Mom's lobster dinners, we did a belated take-out for her Mother's Day dinner and she said it was the best lobster she had ever eaten. Full stop. And she's looking forward to the birthday dinner. Maybe, it is just the food.
It's a little thing – just three letters – that can make a big impact. At least, it has for Red. Ok, that may sound like a bit of an exaggeration. But the reality is that once "discovered", it can be used in many ways that you may wonder how you ever lived without it.
For Red, it all began years ago when she turned to Black looking for time management advice, and Red, in her usual fashion, could have kept the email stream going on and on (rather ironic given the topic). Black, running out of patience, but knowing that Red can be overly sensitive (trust us, that's an understatement), simply ended her email with "EOM."
Black figured that would get a response but hoped it'd ultimately reap long-term benefits. As expected, Red was clueless about what "EOM" stood for, not even sure whether it was an acronym, abbreviation, or technical term, so when she questioned Black, she called it "alphabet soup", although she was pretty certain the "M" stood for money …
EOM = End of message. Internet slang so that emails or IMs or text messages do not go on needlessly. If used properly, they can increase productivity so you do not continue to babble back and forth. If it used in the subject line, it means the message does not even have to be opened; i.e., there is no message other than the subject line.
Even with her love of blah-blah-blah, Red immediately "got it", loved it, and agreed that EOM made a lot of sense, so immediately started using it. Not only with Black, but with other people, who, she discovered, started using it.
So, now that you've read this post, all we can say is … EOM.
|Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.|
|Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.|
|Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.|
|I think you mean DIFF-abilities.|
|Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.|
|Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?|
|I know that you completely changed my way of thinking, not only about Natasha but about the concept of "disabilities" full stop. It opened my eyes – and my brain – about how just because someone has challenges or limited abilities in some areas, that doesn't mean they don't have different gifts and strengths in other areas.|
|Exactly. Although autism is a "spectrum condition" meaning it affects people differently and to varying degrees, it is a complex developmental disorder that can affect a person's social skills, and ability to communicate and interact with others. However, autistic people usually possess some extremely valuable traits that are rare in non-autistic people.|
|Which is why it frustrates me that so many people feel like those with disabilities, excuse me DIFF-abilities, are "lesser" people. When Natasha was diagnosed, she was in her teens and already had a very strong personality (no doubt inherited from you) and, luckily, seemed to have an innate understanding that she was just different, not better, not worse, than others. I guess one of the biggest challenges is to get others to see things with the same mindset.|
|We are a story-telling society, and there are countless stories of people with DIFF-abilities, including those with autism, that are eye-opening and more powerful than anything we could ever say.|
|Funny you say that, as I was curious to learn more about autism and found some inspiring quotes (including a wonderful Tom Hanks clip) that not only gave me great insight but made me smile. One of my favorites was how Paul Collins, an author and parent of an autistic child, said, "Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." That's such a great way to describe not only those with autism but any disability.|
|Well, technically, it will fit, but it requires that the diameter of the circle be larger than the diagonal of the square. Basic geometry. But, I understand Paul Collin's point.|
|Talk about DIFF-abilities! Couldn't you just agree with me?|
|The thought never crossed my mind.|
||Well, the Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was over a month ago, but I still see plenty of articles about it. It's really "stirred up" things in the Royal Family.|
||Well, I guess it put "a bee in the royal bonnet." Although, I would not believe everything you read. Right after the interview, I read several articles suggesting the monarchy should end with Queen Elizabeth. I cannot imagine that happening.|
||Oh, that isn't anything new. It's been going on for a long time; there was even talk of it when I lived in England decades ago. All the interview did was further encourage those who are already advocating it.|
||At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but as I said in our Banter Bite, Talk About Getting The Royal Treatment, the Royal Family does seem to have "issues" in terms of race relations and dealing with mental illness. I can understand why people are questioning whether the monarchy, with its "old-fashioned" traditions and beliefs, is still relevant.|
||But it's not like that's the only place those issues exist. Just pick up a newspaper, turn on the news – it's everywhere! Unfortunately, the Oprah interview put a very public face on it – The Royal Family, or The Firm, which is how the family and institution refers to itself.|
||Who nicknames themselves The Firm? It sounds like a Netflix series, but with less class than " The Crown."|
||It always reminds me of one of my favorite Tom Cruise movies, "The Firm," based on the John Grisham novel. Anyway, I admit I love Tudor history, but I'm certainly no expert on the history of the British monarchy or Royal Family. But nicknames aside, I do think they serve an important purpose.|
||Especially in terms of money. It is big business, which may explain the nickname. According to a recent Forbes article, the amount of money they bring in (primarily due to tourism) is estimated to contribute $2.7 billion a year to the U.K. economy (pre-pandemic). That makes the $550 million cost of running The Firm a smart investment.|
||Wow! Those are some pretty big numbers. And leave it to you to have a financial perspective, but that wasn't what I was thinking about. I was thinking that during the 20 th Century, the Royal Family played an invaluable role in getting a nation to pull together, and stay together, as they fought not one, but two, World Wars.|
||I defer to you when it comes to history, but that was a long time ago. World War II ended in 1945. How is that relevant today?|
||Sometimes the mere existence of a well-established institution, and its pomp and circumstance, can remind people that they're a part of something bigger than themselves. That there's a history that binds you. In this case, as a country. I believe the Royal Family creates unity amongst the British people, including all its territories, around the world.|
||Maybe during the last century, but I do not think that holds true today. Just look at how the British have reacted to the Oprah interview. It shows how opinions are strongly polarized, and instead of creating unity, it is now causing division. In many ways, it is similar to the polarization caused by Trump. And although he is no longer president, the polarization of the American people remains.|
||That's an interesting analogy, but it does point out how far the American political system has changed. It used to be, by and large, about public service. Back when I was in college, the best and the brightest went into politics. Now, I feel that for so many politicians, it's just a job.|
||A well-paying job with good benefits that can lead to many other opportunities. I am sure some are still doing it for public service, but the funny thing is that there are so many other ways to make a difference – including in the business sector, and working for non-profits.|
||Which is what Prince Harry and Meghan say they're going to do. I appreciate they don't have to be part of the Royal Family to make a difference, but members of the Royal Family were always looked upon as great role models. They represented values that were worth trying to emulate – commitment, love of country, honor. And I think Queen Elizabeth still does.|
||What about the others in the Royal Family? Do they just not care about the issues facing "commoners" or are they merely out-of-touch? And, do you think it is possible to take something as old and established as the monarchy and make it relevant in today's world?|
||Too many questions all at once, but I think the Royal Family can play an important role. But it will take everyone being committed to the "bigger picture" and re-focusing on public service – not roles and titles. I know that Prince Charles has waited his entire life to be King, but in many ways, I think the Royal Family stands the best chance of survival if Prince William was to reign, as he represents a more modern Great Britain.|
||I know nothing about Prince William, but know it is not a function of age – but of mindset. Finding balance between your position of royalty – where you are Head of State but must remain neutral with respect to political matters – and yet understanding the challenges facing society. And, although not making the rules, setting an example.|
||Which is why, as I alluded to in my More Than Just A (Royal) Family Feud post, it's too bad that Prince Harry and Meghan aren't still "working members" of the Royal Family. I think they could've brought a much-needed reflection of modern society into The Firm.|
||Well, I do not wish anything but the best for Queen Elizabeth, but it will be interesting to see what happens to The Firm when it is under new management.|
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