Gratitude Day 471

Fri., June 5, 2020

Luke 21:30 – When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near.

Anyone else feeling like Summer 2020 has been cancelled?

Here in Wisconsin, many hometown celebrations have been cancelled. Lots of county, local and even the Wisconsin State Fair have pushed the pause button for 2020. Concerts in the park, local music festivals, art fairs, entertainment venues … the list goes on and on and on of organizations that have carefully evaluated their situation and opted to delay their 2020 event, season and/or offering.

Summer camps, Vacation Bible Schools and summer school are limited at best, virtual for many, abbreviated for tons and if being held, definitely not “normal” at all. I’ve seen the family reunion cancellations on social media. Many baseball, softball, soccer and other youth and adult sporting events are opting out for the summer. Even the Major League Baseball is still in negotiations about if and what their 2020 season will look like.

Graduation parties, weddings, and confirmations = delayed. My only remaining aunt turns 90 in July. Many family members planned to spend 4th of July weekend in Denver honoring her life. Just this week, we received an e-mail from her children sharing the celebration has been canceled. Aunt Bev has not been able to leave or have visitors at her assisted living since. MARCH 8TH. We’re talking nearly 90 days of stay-in-your-little-room-while-you-get-your meals long. I’m not sure many of us have anything to complain about compared to Aunt Bev.

Don’t even get me started about vacations. I have an arm’s length long of folks I know, including ourselves, who have cancelled or delayed a trip. Many, indefinitely.

It might be easy to think that Summer 2020 might as well be cancelled.

Here’s my advice. Grieve. Be sad and disappointed.

But guess what? IT’S NOT. Summer has NOT, I repeat, NOT been cancelled.

Nearly every day, Hubby Rick says, “I love the summer!” We CAN have a great summer! Like so many other areas of our lives right now, we just need to think a little creatively. Open up our boxes and look at what IS possible … in a safe environment. Minimizing risk. Ways that we can celebrate some of those long-standing summer traditions as well as new ones that we establish this year. Yup, there is nothing wrong with some new traditions. And this certainly is the year to start them.

Following as a laundry list of ideas that you and your family, possibly neighbors and friends, can do to celebrate some of your favorite parts of summer. This list of ideas isn’t the end-all. I would love for this list to encourage you to come up with your own ideas of how you can have tons of fun this summer. It just takes a little more thought and creativity than going to your local fair or taking in a Brewers game this summer. Maybe, YOU just need to discover some unique and new ways to do things this summer!

June Dairy Month – normally, this time of the year, we’d be hosting a build-your-own Sunday for our neighbors. Well, this isn’t going to happen this year. Alternatives? Buy 1lb. packages of cheese curds from a local cheese plant, attach a cute little “Happy June Dairy Month” tag to them and deliver them to your neighbors.

Missing a June Dairy Month Breakfast? Invite friends to pick-up curbside breakfast from your favorite local diner. Then, gather socially distanced in your back yard and pretend you are eating at a local dairy farm. Or, offer curbside pick-up at your house for friends who love attending dairy breakfasts on a Saturday in June.

Missing seeing your friends? Set a bring-your-own park picnic with some of your besties. Have everyone bring their own lunch, whether pickup or from home, their own lawn chair and bug spray. Stake out a large enough area at a local park in a shady place for a couple hours. Have everyone sit in a circle with at least six feet between chairs. Eat lunch, chat, and catch you. Believe me – you’ll love it!

Hometown Celebration Withdrawls? On the day that normally would have been the parade, invite people from your neighborhood to simply walk down the street and greet each other from the sidewalk. Carry balloons, throw candy to the kids or even water balloons if it is hot! Live in the country? Drive to a few of your neighbors and throw candy at their garage.

Missing the concerts in your local park this summer? Invite a neighbor or friend who has a sound system to set it up on a particular evening. Invite friends and/or neighbors to bring their own lawn chairs and favorite beverage while the neighborhood “DJ” spins 60 minutes of tunes. Make sure there is a way for people to make requests such as writing songs on a white board. Ensure your neighbors are OK with this!

Enjoy nature! We’ve dusted off our kayaks and used them several times this spring. Our grandkids love getting to paddle around a lake or pond and have definitely figured out how to navigate them. Yesterday, we had a great day of kayaking, fishing, hiking, and swimming on a beautiful summer day. Rick and I regularly bike and walk and take in the thousands of green colors. Yes, the state parks are going to be busy this summer. Some of the smaller and/or private parks may not be as busy. Hints for using parks to avoid large crowds: go early or later in the day. Avoid holidays and weekends if possible. If a trail appears bumper-to-bumper with people, find a different trail. Bathrooms may or may not be open. Concessions stands probably are not. Plan ahead. We picnic in the parks and take our drinks, making sure we clean up after ourselves.

We ARE going to miss attending fairs this summer. When I asked our 13-year-old grandson how the coronavirus has affected him the most, he said having the county fair canceled. This is a kid who loves animals and loves exhibiting them. While many fairs have been canceled, there are some that are putting in tons of efforts to try and still have some portion of their youth exhibit. If you are missing the fair season, plan a night where your family eats all of your favorite fair foods: corn dogs, slushies, etc. Find a way to have them. Yes, I know it’s not exactly the same but recreate as you can. If you are like our grandson who really would love to exhibit at the fair and will not be able to, create your own “fair” experience at home. On the day that the show would have happened, have the youth “show” their animals, if only for your family. Award ribbons. Make comments. Create a place for them to still have the experience, if only in your own back yard.

What about all the graduation, birthday, anniversary, family reunions and other celebrations? This is where creativity can abound. A drive-by parade is great. A ZOOM party is very doable. Sending cards and small gifts is a no-brainer. One neighborhood gal’s mom announced a day or two in advanced about her daughter’s birthday on social media. Lots of families and her friends dropped by the day of her birthday and left little things in their lawn all day. I’m guessing it’s a birthday she won’t forget. Yes, it won’t be the same this year. However, doing something different and more creative can actually create fantastic memories. Video chatting is available on many smartphones. Become comfortable with technology so that you CAN be in contact with loved ones.

Cancelled summer vacations. Unfortunately, there are lots of cancelled trips. Just yesterday, one of our grandchildren and I had this conversation. So, what can you do? Plan safe and realistic day trips. Make it a driving trip where you stop at a variety of locations which will be outside and come in limited contact with other people. Take your own food and snacks with you or do curbside pick-up and have a picnic.

Create special evenings/days with your family at home. “Pretend” is a great game I played with my siblings growing up. Today, it’s too easy to spend time in front of a screen and not use our imaginations. Rick and I have created a dinner setting which reminds us of another favorite time and memory. We talk about what made this memory so special and recreate it is in our own little way … at home.

Use your yard, porch, and other open outdoor spaces. Last week, friends stopped by for awhile. I brought drinks out to our porch and we had a wonderful time chatting and sharing. We kept our distance from each other. We never touched. Yet, we connected. I hope we can do more of these very small drop-in visits this summer.

While things are slowing opening up, we’ve been intentional about who we add to our circle of contact. First, we added grandchildren. Even with them, we spend as much time outside as possible. Our closest contact is when we’re in the car together. Contact with other folks has been outside, at a safe distance and with no touching. There are ways we can connect with people, do fun things, and still have a great 2020 summer. Be cautious. Be smart. Be careful. Enjoy. Create some unique and fun memories this summer. Make it your best summer yet.

For the anticipation of a great summer, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Holy God – Amen.

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