My mother, who lived through two world wars and a depression, used to tell me that often. Now that we are living through a pandemic, these words ring just as true today.

We see creative solutions everywhere these days. Many businesses like GM have re-tooled from making cars and trucks to constructing surgical face shields. Clothing manufacturers are switching from pants and tops to couture face masks. Distilleries have moved from single malt scotch to hand sanitizer. Restaurants are re-opening with tables two meters apart and patio spaces expanded onto sidewalks. One creative restaurateur seats mannequins at empty tables, mannequins dressed in high-end fashions which are, of course, for sale. Eat and shop at the same time.

Performance companies are working hard to find audiences through live-streamed performances. We can watch performers dancing around their dining room table, or playing an instrument on the basement couch beside their dog. David Mirvish posts a weekly newsletter with trivia quizzes and contests. Patrons are asked to create new songs for the times. Last week’s winner was a song from the musical Hamilton with new words to “I Am Not Throwing Away My (Vaccine) Shot!

Sports teams like hockey, basketball and baseball are considering televised games with cardboard cutout people in the stands and canned cheering. Outdoor venues, like the zoo, are figuring out how to keep people safe and separate in their cars while doing a zoo safari. Arts patrons can see several different Van Gogh paintings digitally presented on the walls of a large factory-like setting while sitting in the comfort of their cars.

Closer to home, my husband Peter and I were faced with figuring out how to celebrate a family milestone, my brother’s 70th birthday. Not only that but his partner also has the same birthday on the same day. This was an event not to be ignored just because of some virus. But how to celebrate safely? After discovering that the birthday couple did not want to meet us in a park somewhere, we decided to take our little party to them.

First we had to come up with a menu from ingredients we already had on hand at home. I found a simple brunch recipe with eggs and ham, and a cake recipe with fresh rhubarb from the garden. As the cake came out of the oven I suddenly remembered: “Oops, my brother doesn’t even Like rhubarb!” Quickly I covered up the cake with an icing that masked the rhubarb taste. Then we found a bottle of old, I mean well-aged, champagne in the basement that would go well with some orange juice we had in the fridge.

Next we needed a gift. Since there are no malls open yet, our shopping venues are limited. But the drug store always welcomes us. So we picked up a few goodies the birthday folks might find useful in their eighth decade: polident, arthritis cream, a laxative; things like that. A very thoughtful gift, don’t you think? We were almost ready to go. Except for one last little issue….

The drive to my brother’s house takes about 2 hours so we were going to need a bathroom stop. Hmmm…..First I thought about buying a box of Depends. But really, did I want to buy a big box of diapers just to have one? Besides, where was I going to hide the box? Heaven help me if the grandchildren spotted it in a cupboard while they were playing hide and seek. I could just hear them chanting: “Nana wears diapers!” all around the neighbourhood.

Then we remembered that there was a Tim Horton’s on the route. We we all set. We packed up the car and headed off to the makeshift party. But when we got to the Timmy’s, the bathrooms were closed. Oh oh…I crossed my legs and began scanning the horizon. Further down the road we spotted a forest. Peter stood guard while I hopped over a ditch and ran into a clump of trees. Unfortunately the trees had prickly needles and some got stuck in my underwear.

All in all, the impromptu backyard party was a big success. We exchanged stories and hugs from a distance. My brother didn’t notice the rhubarb in the cake. Neither did he seem to notice as I squirmed around, trying to get comfortable while sitting on prickly needles for two hours.



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