They traveled many miles with their parents to be with us for Christmas and New Year’s. They can be silly, funny and smart. They dedicate their time and effort, as you can see here, to entertaining Grandpa.
Or, sometimes, we would get in the car and drive to Colorado to share Christmas with another set of grandchildren. We would all crowd in, share a breakfast, play with the new toys and, most of all, enjoy one another’s company.
This is not likely to happen in 2020. Our usual family celebrations will be on hold until transportation is safe, hotels are safe, a vaccine is available, and social distancing is one of those dated expressions that falls from usage. In the meantime it will be up to FaceTime, Zoom, and UPS to get the Christmas toys and greetings to the distant family.
If you have ever been in a group that needed to give someone a group hug, you know that there is nothing else that will do. And if you have ever been that person who needed a group hug, you also know there can be no substitute.
Here you see a group of Methodist teenagers in December, 2017, after they received news that their youth director was moving from Chapelwood 1 to Chapelwood 2 up the road in Houston. The hug was their spontaneous, genuine, and deeply felt gift. The photographer barely had time to point the camera.
This is not something that can ever happen in a Zoom meeting.
Dads gave their sons lessons on the proper handshake. The lesson included the rule of never offering your hand to a lady unless she offered hers first. It emphasized the importance of a firm grip, but never a bone crusher. And that one should never, ever linger too long hand in hand.
By the time I was out of college, ladies (actually, they preferred to be called women by that time) offered their hands in greeting without forethought or remorse. It was so commonplace in our social life that we never thought much about its disease transmitting potential.
But then there was coronavirus and COVID-19. The gentleman’s warmest greeting was suddenly a life-threatening gesture. By the time we went into lockdown on March 13, I had already mastered the elbow bump but found only a couple of folks who knew exactly how to respond to my apparent act of aggression. Since then, I have not been around enough people to even think about elbow bumps, handshakes, cheek kisses, or anything else. At most, I offer a weak quasi-military salute. It works for most people.
Perhaps it will be the death of the handshake. Will anyone even remember the custom by the time (or, perhaps, if) we ever come out of lockdown? Will anyone miss it?