Thirty years ago, our country shut down. My last day of elementary school that year was Friday the 13th of March. Just the weekend before I was arguing with Mom for more screen time. Little did we know that we’d be spending more time in front of that screen to learn, to connect with family and friends, and not just play.

I loved it! We stayed home. We played games. If we needed something, our church gave us stuff, our school gave us stuff, our neighbors gave us stuff, and we shared our stuff with other people. We wore our pajamas every day, baked bread and cookies, and didn’t worry about cleaning up so much. Dance parties in the kitchen! Some people had a lot of toilet paper, so they shared with those who didn’t. We left bags of stuff at my grandparents, but I didn’t get to hug them. The news said it wasn’t safe. I was bummed. 

We drove by our church for surprises in goodie bags of toys, books, snacks, crayons, bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. We raised our hands and talked to God before heading home to find out what was in the bags. So much sidewalk chalk! We drew on our drive way, the neighbor’s driveway, and the sidewalks in our neighborhood. Every now and then there would be lines and lines of cars honking horns in our subdivision with signs and balloons. Like a parade!

Once it was really summer for real, we had church in our parking lot. Sometimes we drove through the drive-thru and picked up dinner to eat in the back of the car for supper. It was like Vacation Bible School, but in our car. With Mom. With Dad. Sometimes my grandma came! We heard a story about Jesus, popped balloons, prayed, played games, and danced. Even in the rain!

As much as Mom and Dad wanted us to watch church on TV, we just wanted to play. We started wearing masks everywhere we went. We went camping and made forts in the living room with flashlights and sheets.

Before 2020 I went to church with other kids and had some great church teachers, but after COVID I got to meet so many more people at my church and all over town. I met people of all ages in my church and lots of other kid’s parents. We kept camp chairs and bicycles in the back of the car so we’d always be ready to meet up with people at the church, the park, and the ball fields.

We didn’t get to visit our grandparents, but we talked on the phone and zoomed with them often. It felt good to see them. I missed them. They must have missed me, too, because they wrote me letters and mailed postcards to me. I especially remember the animal fun facts postcards about eagles and national parks. They sent postcards to my sister about princesses and famous women in science. I miss my grandparents, but I know we will see each other in Heaven one day because they talked to me about Jesus and prayed for me to love Him for my whole life. I have their Bibles all written in and read from them often, especially when I want to feel close to them or I’m going through a tough time.

My family’s traditions around the holidays came from my parents and grandparents so we’d have fun and be reminded who we belonged to. They told us over and over that God is good, God created us, Jesus loves us, and we are better together however together looks. We talked with each other. We talked to God in prayer. together We played together. We laughed together. We cooked together. We took walks and adventures together. They loved me to Jesus and showed me how to love my own kids to Jesus.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.” 3 John 4