If you haven't noticed from the absolutely scorching temperatures we had this past weekend, summer is in full swing. I always run hot, so I've been dying (bring on the AC, please), but I'll admit that it's been nice to see the sun out more! Summer is a time for relaxing, enjoying nature, and spending time with friends. How do we do all of this given the ongoing threat of the coronavirus? Today, I want to share a few (hopefully) helpful tips on just that.
First, I want to put out there that everyone will have different levels of comfort with coronavirus and social interaction, and that's okay. It's really important that we show some compassion right now. Even as things start to open up more, we need to accept that there are some among us who just won't be comfortable going out much. We need to support them and help lift them up rather than tear them down because we're more comfortable (and/or less at-risk) than they are.
We know that the government guidelines and restrictions regarding this virus are constantly changing. These recommendations will be under the assumptions of the current guidelines (written on June 22nd, 2020). With that said, let's jump right into how to make this one of the best summers ever!
One thing I've enjoyed quite a bit during this pandemic is socially distant hangouts. You can do this in your backyard or just about anywhere outside! I've had a few friends and neighbors over to relax and shoot the breeze. We've sat at least 6 feet out and enjoyed the sunshine (and perhaps some individual snacks as well). This is a great way to connect with people whom we haven't seen since March or earlier!
I know it's not the same as "the real thing," but my guess is you haven't seen certain friends and relatives for over 3 months now! Sometimes it's really nice to just sit down with someone and catch up face-to-face, and a socially distant backyard hangout can help us do that while remaining safe! I know it sounds a little cheesy, but give it a shot. You won't regret it!
Another summer activity that isn't affected by the coronavirus is going for a drive with the windows down. There is nothing quite like hitting the road with some great tunes and even better people. Grab some ice cream with your family, go watch the sun set at a park, or just drive around for the heck of it! Sometimes the drive itself can be the best part, especially when it's a nice sunny day.
If you can't drive yet, that's okay! Grab a family member who can and suggest a ride. Chances are, they'll just be happy that you want to spend time with them! At the very least, you can be the DJ. I'm in the process of creating my yearly "Beach/Windows Down" playlist on Spotify (apparently some people prefer Apple Music?! Seems wack to me, but to each their own).
It's easy! All you have to do is go through all the playlists you've made throughout the year (or the playlists your streaming platform of choice has made for you). For each song, ask yourself if you can picture yourself listening to it on the beach or driving with the windows down. If the answer is yes, it goes on the summer playlist! Boom, easy. This one's a lot of fun, and a great way to share music you love with people you care about.
Not cutting it for you? No sweat, I've got more. Something I've been meaning to do for over a month now is a backyard camp-out. My guess is you (or someone you know) has a tent. If not, you can find a one for under $40 at Dick's Sporting Goods or on Amazon. All you have to do is pitch the tent in the backyard, think of some fun camping-themed activities, and go from there!
If it's safe to have a fire, you can roast some marshmallows for s'mores or even cook some dinner in a skillet! Camping is WAY more fun than it sounds, and you should definitely give it another shot if you haven't been since you were a kid. If you don't feel comfortable going to a campground, your backyard is a safe and easy place to try it out!
One last thing I'd recommend to get in the summer spirit: go to mass. Archbishop Blair has, of course, suspended the Sunday mass obligation for Catholics in our diocese until September 6th if you aren't comfortable. If you are, you can currently attend mass at St. Bridget of Sweden Parish on any weekday (you just need to sign up beforehand at the link below), and the Archdiocese has announced that it will allow the resumption of Sunday masses on July 4th and 5th.
I know it might sound disconnected from the rest of these tips, it's arguably the best one! The Eucharist and the mass can give us innumerable graces, many of which we can't see. The Lord can boost our moods, give us ideas for uplifting things to do, and generally better our outlook on the world around us. No matter where you're at regarding excitement for the summer, I'd highly encourage you to attend mass and avail yourself of the Sacraments in the coming days and weeks.
Whatever you feel comfortable and motivated to do, make sure you take advantage of the nice weather and get out a bit. Run, ride a bike, spend some time with people you care about (safely). No matter what, make sure to thank God for the sun and all the beautiful foliage outside!
I hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather, and I look forward to seeing many of you soon.