Family: With COVID there isn’t always room for one more

Treena Mielke

Tough times don’t last forever.


I tell myself this as I scan the number of COVID cases that seem to be soaring.

“They say it’s because of Thanksgiving,” my husband mentioned the other day as he was reading the latest updates on his phone, squinting his eyes the way he does so he can read the small print. “Too many family gatherings,” he added nonchalantly, taking a sip of coffee from his favourite blue mug, the one I made for him many years ago, that has, somehow remained intact.

I feel a knot of guilt form in my tummy.

Did we have too many guests at Thanksgiving? I tried to keep the numbers down. And I did. I know I did. For crying out loud, there was huge spaces between the plate settings this year.

And, because I had so much room, I was able to decorate the table so it looked like a Better Homes and Garden page totally come to life. It’s amazing what you can do with a can of gold spray paint and leaves, and berries picked from God’s own garden.

By the time I was done decorating, I paused and gazed with deep appreciation at my own creativity.

The gold leaves and berries set off by gold candles looked rich, just like me, I muse to myself. Not money rich, of course, but rich in so many ways I can’t even count.

But still! The question, like the elephant in the room, always remains.

Did everyone sanitize enough? Really, did we bend the rules of social distancing too much so we could all sit at the same table.

Yes. Things are different in our world now. Things are different since COVID became a new word in the dictionary squashed between the words ‘caution’ and ‘carefully’.

I love family gatherings woven together with golden threads of love and shared history and new beginnings. I love it when the little ones spill into my neat and tidy home, creating instant chaos. They drop their coats on the stairwell, sneak a couple cookies, laugh out load, tease each other and give generously of huge bear hugs and chatter. In less than a heartbeat, they make my house a home.

I love how they do that.

I love it when my kids, who are no longer my kids, of course, but big people who have minds of their own, adults who seem to know a lot more than me about pretty much everything, gather under my roof. Their talk is sprinkled with observations and thoughts about adult things like jobs and bills and making it to the gym and how busy they all are.

As for me, I just feel grateful. And happy. And, as I mentioned before, quite rich, actually.

I also love it when friends stop by. My home is modest and a little bit messy and cluttered, but, always at my house, there is room for one more. One more plate, one more potato in the pot, one more cup of coffee, one more chair around the table.

Of course, with COVID, I must curtail my natural open-door policy. I must remember there is not always room for one more.

I went to church on Sunday. At least, I tried to go to church. True to form, which is tardiness, I skidded to a stop in my new boots, which are not quite skid proof on ice, at the front doors of the church at 10:15 a.m. The doors were locked. I shook them. I rattled them. I tried to peer through them. Still locked.

Apparently, they did not have room for one more.


Life lesson: Do not be late! And if all else fails remember the benefits of ZOOM!

Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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