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The Unimaginable

January 2, 2021

Another Way for week of December 25, 2020

The Unimaginable

Recently I wrote about “The Unexpected.” This week I’ll tackle the unimaginable. Yep: the pandemic.

Early on, my Indiana friend and former co-worker Carol Honderich, launched a small Facebook campaign urging us all to show our masks.

I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day when the masks all around (thank goodness) put me in pause mode. I thought about how unimaginable the scene would have been to me last year at this time. To all of us. It would have been science fiction. A medical disaster movie.

We remember the first weeks of mask wearing, and the long long lines outside of Costco and Walmart, standing six feet apart. What country were we in? It felt like an old eastern European regime maybe.

My first haircut wearing a mask the whole time.

At our grocery store at first, no more than half of the people were wearing masks. I would glance at others, hoping to not catch any droplets, stiffening at someone sneezing, someone crowding too close. There were few children in stores at that time, which was wise, but so different. As children gradually started coming back out, wearing masks, the kiddos looked proud to be so grown up. I remember my four-year-old grandson telling his mommy as they waited in their van to pick up groceries, “Mommy, I need a mask.”

On a personal level, my husband had knee surgery just four days before the major U.S. lockdown the weekend of March 13. When we went to his second rehab session at a retirement wellness facility, we were stunned to find out he could not receive any more rehab there. We had been working with them for months anticipating the surgery, and now, oops, sorry, we don’t want you anymore. I don’t really blame them, they needed to protect their retirement community—and we don’t actually live there. But, what were we to do?

Later, Stuart had to have a manipulation to increase his recovery from knee surgery, so at that point he had to be tested for Covid. The process was almost painless and very efficient.

A local fellow writer and photographer/blogger suggested another rehab place we’d never heard of, and Stuart went on to successful rehabilitation there.

And my mother—who had unexpected surgery after a fall breaking her femur on February 20—was suddenly locked away from seeing my sister who lives nearby, or anyone other than healthcare workers. Unimaginable, of course. These things are routine now, we know the restrictions.

My two older grandsons—who grew up with tight family restrictions on screen time—were gradually shifted into screen overload: online learning over Zoom (but not without major hiccups in one school system where the technical networks were simply not up to speed for thousands of connections). These days, the two first graders are eager to get away from their computers at the end of “school” hours.

The day I went shopping for groceries and found nearly empty shelves in many aisles of the store, I wept silently. It seemed so unbelievable. My mind flashed back to the Russian guest in our home in the early 90s, who marveled at our full grocery store shelves. She picked up products and studied them.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined big tough smart well-paid football coaches standing on the sidelines of huge almost-empty stadiums wearing masks. What a sight, now commonplace.

If you had told me I would not attend services in my church building for ten for months, I would have said no way. That doesn’t mean we haven’t worshipped, prayed, reached out to others, fellowshipped the best we can. Certainly, this tests our faith and our faithfulness, but in spite of it all, I find my heart drawing nearer to the God of the universe, and the Jesus that I still follow and love. Mary and Joseph could not have imagined the trials that were ahead for them, either.

Our pastor preparing for a live taping of the Sunday morning church service to be shared over Facebook live.

We are lonely for loved ones this unimaginable holiday season, but as others have pointed out, those who serve in the military or Christian service and ministry around the world—they do not usually get to go home for the holidays. It is a surprise and an unusual year if they get that privilege.

My angel and church window, facing east on a snowy morning, pre-Christmas.

And so it goes. May you find hope and joy in the year ahead.


High point of your Christmas holidays? Low point?

How are friends and loved ones doing? Unload here, if you care to.

Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. We had an outing just after Christmas, both out of doors. The first was a boat trip to see the 3-million lights of St. Augustine. The second, a hike along the trails of Blue Springs State Park. Both excursions were open-air, but everyone wore masks any way, very reassuring.

    Happy 2021, with better prospects. 🙂

  2. Three million lights huh? Wow, that sounds interesting! We drove around seeing more lights than we usually take time to do. The hike sounds like my kind of fun as well. Nice to see you back and best to you in 2021 as well.

  3. The last I heard St. Augustine featured one million lights during the holiday season, extending through the end of January. The boat tour guy said 3 million, so maybe they’ve added millions more.

  4. Adding more lights is apparently not that hard when you have hundreds on a string, right? We drove about 25 miles to one place that was supposed to have 10,000 lights, homeowner style. We were not impressed. My favorite light displays pick a theme or design approach and stick with it–not gaudy, and all over the place, but “put together” beautifully. But being on the water must bring an extra dimension!

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