December 12, 2020

Happy, Stay-at-Home, Pandemic Birthday! (First Rule is: Make pretend there's no Coronavirus.)


The Big 3–0! It was my daughter’s thirtieth birthday. Since we’re in the mix of a pandemic, we decided to have a “Spa Day” at home. Our outfits included matching satin (shiny polyester) pajamas, a white bathrobe (with the waffle fabric, just like a real spa), and, to top it off, terry-cloth turbans. Soothing spa music and aromatherapy diffusers were blasting. Decorations included “Happy Quarantine Birthday!” and “Made in 1990” banners dangling from the stairs. Signs that read “Stay Home Stay Safe” and “Happy Quarantine Birthday” were reminders of the 2020 time and place. On every flat surface, i.e., kitchen cabinets and paintings, we hung inspirational quotes, like  and 

“I can’t believe I’m here with you on your 30th birthday,” I said. “Number #1 because I had a stroke three years ago (and, hence, enjoy every single moment is as if it’s on steroids), and #2, we have to stay home anyway.” 

"I know,” Annie said, reaching her hand across the table. “I was thinking the same thing.” As she took her hand away, it bumped into the cup of chamomile tea she had poured herself at the “Complimentary Tea Station” when entering the kitchen.

The first activity was candle-making. We placed wicks in small candle tins and poured in tea tree, peppermint, lavender, or sweet orange essence into the melting soy wax on the stove. (Note: Soy wax burns quickly.) Then stir in wax blocks of green, pink, blue, purple, yellow, or red. Pour into the tins with waiting wicks, and … homemade, scented candles.
Then it was time to goof around with photos:

In the late afternoon, we watched our favorite movie (which we’ve seen a million times), “Father of the Bride I.” You know, the one with Diane Keaton and Steve Martin? We love it. Annie and I both remarked how strange it was to see people interacting so closely, without masks.

The Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller Center was taking place that same night of Annie’s birthday. Coincidentally, when I had ACB, thirty years ago, I remember sitting up in the hospital bed and thinking how, just streets away from my perch at Mt. Sinai Hospital, people were celebrating the holiday season. With my brand-new daughter cuddled next to me, I celebrated with them. (Then she began to cry … and would  stop. Talk about a buzz kill.)

Annie ordered in her favorite dinner (burgers and lobster macaroni and cheese), and by now, Husband “left his office,” which means he came downstairs. Since the renewed surge of the pandemic, he works from home. We were now a party of three revelers cheering on this benchmark birthday.

In the background of almost everything I do is the reality of the Coronavirus. I always told my children that we have to make home our heaven. Because right beyond the front door, there are horrific things taking place. The news flash on my phone proved it. By 9:15 p.m., CNN reported, “The US has reported the highest number of new daily Covid-19 deaths since the plague began, with more than 2,650 reported so far today.”

Bringing out cake and candles helped me get back in the groove after reading the dismal news.

A friend later asked, “How much did it cost to do the spa stuff at home?”

“Spa stuff? That was just what we ,” I explained. “There were no loofah scrubs or cucumber facials. It was make-pretend. Annie and I needed an excuse to celebrate her thirtieth and gave it a motif. The closest it got to a spa atmosphere was our twin outfits, the mellow music, aromatherapy diffusers, and scented candles. Oh, and the chamomile tea.”

As Covid-19 numbers continue spiking and hospitals across the country are overburdened, Annie and I were home. Safe. Luxuriating in a special mother/daughter moment that we will always remember.

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