On the cusp of a new year, we look back on 2020 as the year we went Back to the Past.
It began with the grocery store ads, “Send us your grocery list and we will walk the aisles filling your order. All you have to do is park at the curb and we will load your groceries.” Or, “for a fee, we will deliver the groceries to your home.”
Exactly like folks used to do when mom would call the corner grocery store and ask, “Would you please send over a couple quarts of milk, five pounds of sugar and a dozen eggs?” With groceries left on the doorstep this last year, we have almost returned to the era of dairy products left in the aluminum box on the front porch,
Back in the good ole days, the mailman delivered a fat catalog every fall. I poured over the Wish Book every year choosing Christmas presents. Slowly, Black Friday shopping wiped out mail orders. That came to a screeching halt this year as quarantined folks ordered more of everything online, expecting it to be delivered to their door.
In the Ralph Moody biographies set before World War I, his widowed mother made a living for the family by cooking up hot meals for other folks. Moody’s teenage sister and younger brother helped him deliver the hot pots of bean soup and brown bread to ladies who did not want to cook in the heat of summer. This year, fast food places joined with delivery services to save us that trip into town so we would not have to fix that food ourselves.
Folks used to stay at home most nights. Then organized sports expanded to include everyone from toddlers to old geezers. Covid-19 came along and sent us scurrying back home. The sports arenas closed. Suddenly, back yard play sufficed once again. Card games came out of the closets and national sports went silent for weeks.
In the past, weddings involved the bridal couple, the immediate family and a couple of witnesses. Then wedding planners, bridal magazines, elaborate engagement and shower parties grew exponentially in popularity until Covid-19 brought it all to a screeching halt. I realized how much the wedding extravaganza had stopped when my Facebook friend who loves any party showed pictures of her daughter’s wedding. Only the parents attended.
Back in the day, home cooked meals dominated the menu. Then after school, work and extra-curricular activities shoved Mom out of the kitchen and into the fast food line. Before last year many moms admitted, “I hardly ever cook. We always go out to eat.”
Then the quarantine closed restaurants. Folks stuck at home called in grocery orders, gathered in the kitchens and helped clean carrots, peel spuds and make the day’s home-cooked meals. “I thought I had forgotten how to cook,” one said.
With the stay at home orders, pollution began to dissipate. The air cleared like it used to be. Italy noticed it first as the waterways in Venice cleared and many life forms returned. With greatly decreased demand for gas, the price at the tanks plummeted to long forgotten prices. Families discovered the wonder of walking in fresh air and enjoying the outdoors after a day spent inside doing homework, office work, virtual schooling and zoom meetings. The future begins to look a lot like “back in the day.” Thinking of that, I wonder if today’s kids might remember the good ole’ days of the quarantine when they and their parents stayed home. Covid-19 caused its damage, but it also slowed us down, cleared out our over crammed closets, schedules and lifestyles. It provided time to go back and re-discover activities worth carrying into the future.