Some things never change


One of my favorite joys as a parent was throwing a birthday party for one of my young children. In addition to my own five, we fostered 17 tots, who received equal birthday treatment. Being selfish, my own home would not be used as the venue. (Only great moms want to clean and cook and host a party for a bunch of kids.) Chuck E. Cheese or a similar icon would host some of the parties, with a purchased cake on which his smiling face would beam at the consuming children. When he sang “Happy Birthday,” everyone participated with gusto. Who does not want to participate when a giant rat is leading the song?

Discovery Zone used to be a favorite place for birthday festivities. I loved to take multiple kiddos there, allowing them to climb up and down the ladders, slither through the tunnels, glide down the slides and jump into the massive ball pits. I loved it so much that I purchased the new annual pass, an expensive venture that would be sure to be worth it in the long haul … except it wasn’t. Discovery Zone went bankrupt soon after the acquisition of my money.

Finding another birthday party location for a 4-year-old has been elusive. With two other toddler grandchildren in attendance, places suitable for older children, such as Launch Trampoline Park or the Meadowbrook Bowling Alley, pose too many additional risks. It appears that birthday party sites for toddlers have fallen by the wayside amidst COVID-19.

With the concern that air borne particles will spread the virus, singing out loud, especially in church, has been limited. For me, the stirring words and familiar tunes of hymns had enhanced my participation in church services, and I feel like a “caged bird” in my inability to warble a tune at the top of my lungs. My body still wiggles in time to the music, but it is not the same. Alas, I am relegated to singing out loud only in my car.

Handshakes and high fives have been replaced by fist bumps. Tollbooths no longer accepts cash, but use the E-Z pass or bill the driver by mail according to the address associated with the license plate. Water “bubblers” have been turned off. My beloved buffets are no longer in existence.

With the amount of first-class mail dwindling, so have mailboxes. While I used to be able to easily put a birthday card in the box outside my office, I now find myself driving to the post office to make sure something gets mailed on time. Even if I DO mail it “on time,” it rarely gets there on time. In fact, there are several bill payments sent last month that have yet to arrive, and the penalty fees are mounting. It makes more sense to send everything through the computer, even birthday cards with attached virtual gift cards, along with my digital signature, of course.

I remember years ago when Amazon Prime was first introduced, and we were visiting my son, Francis, in San Jose, California. His first child had been born and they were very low on diapers. Using his iPad, he ordered a box of diapers online, and they were delivered the next day, just as he used up the last one. “What is this amazing service?” I thought. Years later, perhaps due to the pandemic, or my recovery from knee replacement surgery, or just plain laziness, I now do almost all of my shopping online. The frequent arrival of Amazon boxes almost simulates the “highs” of getting Christmas gifts, especially when I can’t remember what was ordered and I am surprised by the contents.

During my recovery from knee surgery, most of my groceries come from Instacart where frozen pizzas from Aldi’s or Diet Coke on sale at Stop & Shop are delivered right to my door. If I feel like pork chops, salad and baked potatoes for supper, boom; landed on my doorstep two hours later.

Many things have changed as the result of COVID-19, but things change as time goes by anyway. The iPod has replaced the record player and the CD player. The cell phone has replaced the rotary dialed “party line” landline. The internet has replaced shopping at Walmart and Aldi’s, but just until my knee has healed and I can once again navigate through the stores. Some things never change.


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