It seems to me that people are really starting to take a big breath and carefully step out into the world following everything that’s happened in the past year. I read yesterday that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis plans to lift the statewide mask requirement in a couple of weeks. I imagine that doesn’t mean that we can all throw away our masks. What it does mean, I think, is that a statewide requirement to wear masks is being shifted over to the individual localities, allowing them to decide what is best for their community. Passing the buck, so to speak, but in a way that makes sense.
Still, it’s a really good sign. According to one news source that I read yesterday, the numbers of COVID cases in Texas — the first state to lift all restrictions — are actually inching down. I’m too skittish to say neener neener neener to all the skeptics who worried that Texas was moving too quickly. Numbers can change. But the reality is that more and more people are getting vaccinated every day. Such good news.
As I drove home from my second trip to the grocery store yesterday, I began thinking about our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. We’ve had extraordinarily troubled economies since the 1930s, but I don’t think they impacted us in the same way that the Great Depression impacted our ancestors.
Our grandparents and parents were thrifty. They remembered what it was like to be without. Bill’s mother was a great example of the Great Depression mentality. While she lived a very comfortable life, she would use an appliance until it could no longer be repaired. She would use every bit of her ground coffee, no matter how old it was. The ends of bread made perfectly fine toast. Turn off the lights when you’re not using them. (Now I’m starting to sound like a Tim McGraw song.)
I had hoped that this past COVID year, particularly in the spring and summer months when many of us stayed really, really close to home, would have some good come out of it. I had hoped that parents would get used to cooking at home and eating with their families. Maybe all of those parents rushing their kids from ballet to karate to football practice would slow down, maybe making their kids concentrate on only one after-school activity.
Since my college degrees were in journalism and not sociology, I haven’t really tracked whether parents and kids have maintained a slower life. I know that the clean air and pristine oceans haven’t withstood the re-arrival of humans. Traffic (and the ensuing smog) has returned, and will get even worse once all businesses go back to their buildings. That is, if they do. I’m also not an urban planner.
I wonder how — if any — we have changed following this year that was beyond anyone’s imagination. I hope that something good can come out of our sacrifices, if only loving our neighbors a bit more.