It’s not just baby boomers like us— considered part of the “vulnerable” population during the pandemic— who are still largely staying home, or sticking close to it. As Dassi Citron of Westchester County, New York, explains, her adult daughter is doing the same. And finding creative outlets to make the best of it. How? By using what she calls her Pandemic Toolbox.
A band of unemployed millennials responded in the early stages of the pandemic to a daily creative challenge from a friend.
By just two months into their lockdown they had performed an exorcism, built a snowman without using snow, which cast the most interesting shadow. “A Fancy Tea Party,” one of their video productions, has become my obsession.
The cast just happens to include my adult daughter and her boyfriend, two additional roommates, an assortment of decorative rabbits, and one awfully cute dog.
I find myself reaching to watch this video every day. Its charm is infectious. I smile when the dog, wearing a flower garland, patiently waits to be served tea out of a fancy cup. The brownies, carefully dusted with powdered sugar, get served to a patient teddy bear. The fancy costumes include flower crowns, long flowing dresses, and gender-bending attire. The pace is slow, fingers are curled around china, colorful tea steams from a variety of pots.
I imagine there are countless other collections of roommates using their time in similar pursuits: executing videos, producing art installations, creating hunts and the like. I am in awe of what they accomplish.
These particular twenty-somethings live together in a four-bedroom house. Remnants of their employed life weave in and out of their days. The manager of a brewery selects tasty IPAs to go with dinner. The actress accessorizes her funky look. The childcare provider checks daily to see if school will resume. The dog handler peers at snapshots of her former furry charges. That awfully cute dog remembers how she occasionally appeared as an extra on a TV show or two. She too is unemployed.
Still pretty much sheltering in place, with no end in sight, these young people have time to spare. They may be full of fear. They may be isolated, but they have found a portal to connection. Anxiety fuels their creativity. Creativity soothes their worry.
Watching their tea party, we all get to share this lovely moment. It’s a throwback to a civilized time, where all are welcome to share in the bounty laid before us. And this proud mother gets to see her daughter surrounded by goodwill.
So, I watch and re-watch the video. I notice the tiny rabbit, hiding in the china teacup. Stuffed animals fill the chairs at the table, alongside their humans, waiting for their treats.
Moved by this tender scene, I write a bit, and pick up my watercolors. Sometimes I just sit and wonder, reminiscent of the less busy life of my media-free childhood.
My thoughts ramble. Perhaps I should play the guitar, learn a language, try making sushi. I scroll through my Facebook feed and observe young parents hosting scavenger hunts and family game nights. On my daily walk, I share the woods and walkways with families looking for wildlife. Play and connection, nature and love, creativity and community. We are grabbing these whenever and wherever we can, creating a toolbox of joy in times of darkness.