• Leigh Gerstenberger

Silver Linings of the Lockdown



By now I hope many of you have been paying attention to the sliver linings that have been accumulating in your lives throughout the lockdown we’ve experienced over the past 10 weeks.


On my silver lining list have been the six weeks my 38-year old son worked from our home. With his office closed and everyone told to work remotely, since he couldn’t get much work done from his own home (with a two and four-year old under foot) he worked from ours. One of the blessings this afforded us was the opportunity to have lunch together each day.


Other highlights on my silver lining list are: the mile long walk I take with my wife around our development each day; the Sunday brunch we host for our daughter and her family which has now become a tradition; and the online evening devotional on the Book of Psalms that Orchard Hill Church conducts week nights at 8:30 PM.


I thoroughly enjoy this evening devotional. As I’m writing this, we just finished Psalm 55. While I hope that we cover all 150 Psalms, I certainly don’t want to “shelter in place” for another 95 days unless it’s absolutely necessary!


One of the interesting phenomena of the lockdown for me (and I suspect others) has been how the “nesting effect” has created a longing to be closer to family. In my case this has led to a weekly, cousins Happy Hour Zoom Reunion on Friday evenings for the past two months.


Growing up I had a group of cousins who lived in and around the Jersey shore. We were all about the same age and would get to see the most of one another during summer vacations at the beach. As we grew older and moved around the country, those annual reunions at the shore began to slip away occurring less frequently.


Enter the world-wide pandemic. After a week or two in lockdown mode the first emails and Facebook posts started among the cousins initially just asking if everyone was okay. With our surviving aunts and uncle being in their late 80s and early 90s we were naturally concerned about how everyone in our extended family was doing.


After a few exchanges, someone suggested that since many of us had not seen one another in several years that we schedule a Happy Hour Zoom Reunion at 5:00 PM the coming Friday.


That was two months ago. Since then we’ve been gathering every Friday. In addition to getting caught up on each other’s lives, my cousins and I have had the chance to visit with some of our children and grandchildren when they’ve been available.


Our aunts and uncle have joined the conversation on occasion resulting in four generations of our extended family being on the call at the same time. We have even had one of our second cousins (the granddaughter of our grandmother’s brother) join us on the call. Even though most of us had never met her, she has plenty of stories to share from the other side of our grandmother’s family.


Many of our family memories involve reminiscing about food. Our grandmother was an extremely talented cook. She was born in Italy and growing up learned how to prepare exquisite Italian dishes effortlessly. While several of her descendants also enjoy cooking, none of us even comes close to the mastery she demonstrated in the kitchen. Never-the-less we all love food and sharing our favorite recipes.


All of which leads me to another silver lining of the lockdown. During one of our recent Zoom Reunions my cousin’s daughter Lucy shared that in celebration of finishing the recent school year (online) she treated herself to a special delicacy. Fried Oreo cookies! While I’m a long time Oreo cookie fan, I’d never had a fried one so I asked for the recipe, which I learned couldn’t be easier.


You simply dip Oreo cookies in pancake batter, fry them in a pan for a few moments and wait for them to cool before devouring them. Lucy further explained that this recipe is the same for chocolate, vanilla, lemon and mint flavored Oreos.


Being the adventurous soul that I am, the following Sunday during the traditional brunch my wife and I host for our daughter and her family, my three grandchildren and I had the opportunity to enjoy fried Oreos cookies for the first time.


Perhaps the beginning of another family tradition, but more importantly a silver lining in the midst of the lockdown!


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