A Letter from Danielle for July ’20

Hi everyone,

Well, life certainly has had its surprises this spring!!! With a few exceptions and changes of plans, most of us usually know what to expect, and can plan our lives. Some people plan more than others. I am one of those people who likes to plan well in advance, long in advance. I start thinking about Easter right after Christmas. I think about September as summer begins. I start Christmas shopping in August. And the year whizzes by. My children tease me and say, “When Mom invites you for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, you’d better ask her what year.” I’m not that bad, but planning in advance makes me feel safe and in control of my life. It’s not free-form or spontaneous, but with nine children, I’ve always needed to plan ahead. You can’t just plan life with that many kids at the drop of a hat. It’s like moving an army!!! But try a worldwide pandemic for tossing all your plans out the window and not knowing what to expect next. Wow!!!

Most of us have been in confinement for many months, locked down, sheltering in place, not knowing what will happen next. And the rules of confinement vary between every city, state, county and country. I was allowed to see my hairdresser in Paris (he was dressed up like an astronaut in surgical gown, mask, visor and gloves) in May, when in San Francisco they are hoping to see their hairdressers in August, if they’re lucky. I looked like the Bride of Frankenstein for much of the confinement. And some states and countries didn’t confine at all.

National holidays slipped by this year, in the heat of the confinement, and the height of lockdown. I missed out on my daughter Sam’s birthday this year, a weekend we plan and cherish every year in April. I was locked down in Paris, she in LA. We made her a virtual cake that she got to see on FaceTime (and I ate!!) For the first time in our entire history, our family missed out on Easter together. Our cute table of Easter decorations, pastel bunnies and plates stayed on the shelf in the closet. We were each confined in 6 separate cities, in 3 countries. I’m sure the Easter Bunny was disappointed, and so were we. May was even harder. I have NEVER spent a Mother’s Day without my children. This year, we had a FaceTime visit, and they adorably sent me gifts and flowers in Paris, and I missed them terribly. Another blow happened, which has happened to many couples and was really hard. One of my daughters had to postpone her wedding in May. It really was a blow, but we will make up for it when circumstances allow. We are hoping for August, depending on government regulations, or maybe later if need be. But it was really hard, for her, and for brides all over the world who had to postpone their weddings.

We’ve all had disappointments, and holidays we expect to celebrate have slipped by, all around the globe. But if we come out of this alive and healthy, the sacrifices will be worth it, and have been so far. And others have suffered painful losses, which far outweigh the holidays we missed.

So now, here we are, July. In a perfect world, in the US, we would be celebrating the Fourth of July with apple pie and Southern Fried Chicken and corn on the cob, with a parade in many places, and kicking off the summer to a really happy start. It’s American Independence Day, and freedom has become ever more precious to each of us in these very unusual times. In most places, gatherings of more than ten people are not allowed, which keeps most events small, social distancing is vital, and masks must be worn in most places. We accept it and follow the rules for our own health, and the safety of others. Community spirit and caring about others has become essential and vital to us all. We have learned to care about our fellow man more than ever before, and to protect our loved ones, and ourselves. So the Fourth of July won’t look the same this year. There probably won’t be parades in most places, but maybe small gatherings, and picnics outdoors, with social distancing and masks. We will continue to respect the rules on holidays and other days.

And soon, I hope this will be a year we remember, with astonishment at how the world can change in the blink of an eye, and the unexpected can hit us like a bomb. Events and sports events have been canceled, weddings postponed, but in spite of everything, babies are being born, joy is happening, and we are learning to celebrate differently, and have been reminded how precious our loved ones are to us, and how lucky we are when everything goes smoothly and according to plan. Every single moment is precious now, and every person in our lives.

So it’s up to us to make the Fourth of July a day of celebration, in the best ways we can, to look up at a bright blue sky and be grateful, to celebrate, even with a mask if it’s required, and to embrace the freedom and spirit that the holiday symbolizes. July 4th will be a beautiful, wonderful day even without a parade. (And I am really going to miss the Southern Fried Chicken and the apple pie.) Let’s celebrate together, virtually and in our hearts. These hard times will end, things will become normal again. And we have much to be grateful for even in these times, much to celebrate. Let’s hope that this will be the beginning of a wonderful summer, full of good surprises, and that life will be normal as we know it soon. These times have taught us to be spontaneous and flexible, and to adapt to big changes (a good lesson for me!!). And let us never lose sight of joy and celebration.

So Happy Fourth of July, however and wherever you spend it. May it be a joyful day full of blessings, and a wonderful day, and the beginning of a happy summer, with much to be grateful for as we roll toward normalcy again!!! It will come!!! Have a beautiful 4th of July!!! And have some fun!!


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