Easter is a major holiday in my house. It’s not a religious holiday here, but rather an important holiday for family time and fun traditions.
This year is obviously going to be quite different than any normal year. But then, last year wasn’t an atypical year, too, thanks to my atypical brain tumor.
Last year, Easter fell a little more than three weeks after my brain surgery. I was still spending most of my time in bed at that point and could not handle being around people very well. It was kind of the opposite of what the pandemic has wrought: not the physical distancing we’re doing now so much as true social distancing (as in, I couldn’t really interact with people for any length of time). I couldn’t handle loud (or even semi-loud) noises. I couldn’t talk on the phone much because any overlap in conversation (as happens on the phone) would cause my brain to shut down. I couldn’t even text well because the surgery damaged the functionality of my right hand (it’s mostly recovered now, but it will never be 100 percent).
So, I had some practice with the isolation thing.
We had already made the difficult decision to skip the annual Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt, which is held on the Saturday before Easter. That was a tradition we’d upheld since Nola was 1. But the logistics of it (hundreds of excited kids crammed together in a park) were impossible for me at that point. And Nola didn’t want to go without me.
So, I couldn’t deny her our other tradition. Thus, Easter marked my first outing of any kind after my surgery. We spend every Easter with my husband’s family. They do a huge (and I mean huge) Easter egg hunt for the kids. About 20 kids and hundreds of eggs. It’s a sight to behold. Normally. I didn’t behold much of it last year, though, as even a family crowd proved too much for my fragile brain. I spent most of it in the car, but at least I was there, and more importantly, Nola was able to have fun and not have mom’s brain surgery dominate the day.
This year, of course, both of these events have been canceled because of another silent but potentially deadly microscopic invader. This one, however, affects the world, not just my close circle. This year, we’re all in this together.
Having experienced how important that sense of normalcy was to Nola last year, I knew it was my job (literally—I’m the club president) to find a way to salvage our Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt somehow for all of my community’s kids.
At first, I was daunted by the task. I struggled to figure out how to even get Easter eggs to kids with the stay-at-home order and the high-risk status (for age or other health reasons) for many of our Kiwanians.
But as I’ve been seeing all the incredible innovation and flexibility of businesses, artists, performers and more, near and far, I was open to creative inspiration.
And I found it, thanks to our local cultural center.
The Lincoln City Cultural Center devised what they call the Creative Quarantine. Every Thursday, while practicing save physical-distancing practices, they distribute art kits to families. When I went to pick up Nola’s art kit the first week, it hit me: we could do the same thing with DIY Easter Egg Hunt Kits…if the cultural center agreed to let Kiwanis piggyback on their idea.
Only a few words into relaying the idea, the cultural center director jumped on board. So, last Thursday, three Kiwanians joined the two cultural center representatives in a parking lot and handed out kits filled with plastic eggs, candy, and toys to parents as they drove through.
We handed out more than 200 kits in our small town. And to make it even better, one of our Kiwanians hosted a virtual countdown via live feed on Facebook at the exact time the traditional event would have taken place. Kids and families posted photos and videos of themselves doing the hunt, together, from the safety of their own homes.
It was beautiful and inspirational and a wonderful reminder that we can all get through this together…it just takes a bit of creativity and being open to new ways of doing things.
I’ve taken that to heart not only personally but also professionally. All of us here at WMG have. We started with our Stay Inside and Chill Newsletter, which last week included four free books and this week will feature another free book and a host of discounts (to learn more about that, click here), and we will announce more projects in the coming weeks to help our readers get affordable or free access to the diversions we all need right now.
Because we’ve never needed creative thinking more than we do now.
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.