Celebrations during this pandemic

Summer, 2019

Today is one of my best friends’ birthday. She lives abroad so we will probably speak online, as we did every year since she moved from Romania. With one notable exception, when I completely forgot the day in which we were. I was working on my thesis and there’s tons of excuses, the truth among them being that I was extremely self involved and I paid no attention to the days of the month. It used to happen. Now things are better, I think.

I would feel incredibly disappointed if my friends forgot to call. Sure, a message works too, but it’s not the same. It’s actually how one can separate close friends from friends. A close friend will call. They will not forget and call. I must say, I do have close friends I don’t call on their birthdays, mostly because they live abroad and we are not in the habit of spoken communication, but rather written communication.

These physical distancing rules implied by the SARS-CoV-2 transmission reduction measures had direct consequences for celebrating birthdays, as we couldn’t meet friends or people with whom we don’t live in the same house. Thankfully, there is technology allowing us to meet online and to hang out. It works better when all planned to get wine or something fancy to drink as a symbol of celebrating the life of the respective friend.

I participated in two such celebrations thus far. It’s incredible how much technology supports our generation in normalizing such an abnormal situation as the current pandemic actually is. Yes, it’s not the same as having a party, but it’s pretty similar with going out at a bar. especially if people dress up a little bit. With an important advantage in detriment to going out, when people talk in small groups if there are many guests; an online call is set up so that all the guests engage with everybody else, as only one can speak at a time. So we actually get to meet new people and practice the habit of active listening.

I love birthday gatherings. Because it’s important to me, I consider it my duty to make the day of the friend a little more special. To the friend I celebrate today, I wish all the best in the world. I wish we lived closer and that we could speak more often than we do, but there are several constraints which make writing whenever possible the best solution for us. I do hope she’ll have a special day today and that her life journey includes smiles, lovely people, lots of sunshine, nature and all the benefits generated by simplicity. Happy b’day, Son!

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