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Commentary

Creating At-Home Rituals To Help Deal With The Pandemic's Uncertainties

Commentator Lauren Ostberg has thrown "full moon parties" over Zoom since the pandemic began.
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Commentator Lauren Ostberg has thrown "full moon parties" over Zoom since the pandemic began.

I have been living with the pandemic for about a year, and the tempered hope of a vaccine for a few months. I’m extremely low-priority in the vaccine line, and I ought to be. I’m a 35-year-old woman, with no risk factors, who can — but doesn’t have to — work from home.

I’m also miserable, mired in a liminal state. I’m worried COVID is going to end with a whimper, not a bang, that there will be no cathartic moment. I’m worried it’s not going to end, but just interminably mutate, and that the life I didn’t know was the “before” will always be “the before.” That there is no “after.”

To avoid this sense of impending doom, I’ve been creating made up holidays, tiny milestones to move time forward. My kids and I staged our first personal Winter Olympics, waving paper flags mounted on tomato stakes, competing to roll a balloon between cones, and awarding the champions.

I’m still persuading my husband to hold another State of the Union address with me, complete with an agenda and closing remarks. I’ve had “full moon parties” with an old friend over Zoom, where we celebrate abundance by stimulating all our senses — a charcuterie board for taste, a candle for smell, the moon for sight. Then we write letters, sealed in wax, to our next month's selves.

I believe in ritual, in ceremony and garb and clear markers of a before and after. I know the shot in the arm is the first phase in some sort of after. I’ve "liked" photos on social media of healthcare workers flexing for their shots, participating in the spectacle. But I want the difference between the before and after to be bigger, more emphatic — more visible.

So, instead of reading more articles about the strain out of Brazil, or agonizing over the slow rollout, or otherwise spinning out realistic, horrific scenarios beyond my control, I’m dreaming up crowns. When I get my shot, will I wear the wreath with pip berries from my wedding, or the over-the-top one, with a huge pink bloom and pendulous blue petals?

I wonder if the pun "a crown for coronavirus" is in poor taste. I wonder if it’s too early to get my kids crafting theirs.

And I wonder whether, when my turn comes, the festive garb will shock me out of my tempered, hesitant state, and make me feel secure enough to celebrate. I hope so; I think not.

Lauren Ostberg is an attorney and essayist. She resides in Hadley, Massachusetts.

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