Though my mother called me “Cassandra” because of my innate ability to know when things are going wrong, my prescience extends to good things, too. For instance, because of all the bad news about coronavirus and COVID-19, I found myself wistfully pining away for Hallmark Christmas movies. Voila! I heard on Thursday’s news that the Hallmark channel is going to do a three-day Christmas movie marathon this weekend! Hallmark, which has written perfect greeting cards for generations, can certainly divine what we need when we need it.

And we need something good now.  

We here in fly-over country have been mostly mercifully spared the overwhelming illness and death that much of the country – much of the world – has had to endure for the past few weeks.  Max and I have taken seriously the CDC’s admonition to avoid public places and large gatherings, so you can find us at home most nights. And I now work from home, so “sheltering in place” is pretty much my normal day.

We did, however, escape in late January, just when the words “coronavirus” and “covid-19” were making their first appearances. We were not concerned, though. We were visiting friends in Florida, and it seemed as if the virus was mostly contained overseas. Even after we returned on February 1, we were more interested in how we were going to pack up our house than in the virus. 

We had another short trip planned, this one just for us, on March 11. We listened to the news on Monday before we left. Lester Holt said that senior citizens were being advised to limit travel, and it suddenly struck me that WE are senior citizens! I hear the term “seniors” and never think of myself, but I am a senior. And Max is, too, as he is even older than I.  

So should we go? We did some research and found that people in their 60s – us – have a 4% higher risk rate of contracting the virus and being seriously ill from it, and that rate rises with each decade of age. We had no plans to go to Disney World or any hip spring break hangout, so we chose to take the trip. We took disinfectant wipes and not one, not two, but three small bottles of hand sanitizer that were hiding in a bathroom drawer. For the first time in a while, I was glad that we hadn’t done a deep purge of “stuff” that we apparently simply didn’t need.

We went and stayed to ourselves. We wiped down every surface on the plane and watched other people do the same thing. We wiped down everything in the hotel, including the remote control and the phone. We washed the glasses and cups in the little kitchenette in the dishwasher before we used them for our morning French Vanilla Café. We washed our hands until they dried out. We ate meals outside in small restaurants so we would not be in closed spaces with lots of people. We were so vigilant, it was exhausting.  And how were we rewarded?  

Because of the virus, we both had work-related issues. In our measly four days away, Max spent an entire afternoon on the phone taking care of the problems that had arisen because of the virus we had tried to ignore. I answered several phone calls of clients who were unsure of how their cases might be affected by the virus’s spread. And as we tried to unwind for one last time before the final preparation for downsizing and moving, we saw the coronavirus fan, as it were, being hit. 

Fortunately, our trip back was uneventful, as we took a direct flight and had to wipe down surfaces only once. By the time we got home from our supposed relaxing short vacation, we were more on edge than we were when we left. But we are fine. Neither of us has experienced any of the described symptoms. We move forward toward the day when we will live in another home. And really, we will watch Hallmark Christmas movies as we pack this weekend. I want to know that everything is going to be all right.


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