As this pandemic stretches on indefinitely, I continue to try to focus on the positive changes that the efforts to fight the virus have brought. There are many, surprisingly. But for today’s blog, I’m going to focus on the changes the pandemic has brought to celebrations.

June is full of important celebrations ranging from the personal to those of international import. And with the world in various states of lockdown and/or restrictions due to COVID-19, people around the globe are getting really creative when it comes to celebrating.

For starters, June features LGBTQ Pride Month and Juneteenth, both more important than ever. These events normally feature in-person gatherings of various size, from backyard barbecues to workplace events and festivals to huge parades.

But this year, most if not all of those are either impossible or ill-advised. So, organizers are taking these events online in some incredibly creative ways. Click here for information on how to celebrate Pride Month virtually and here for Juneteenth celebration options.

On a personal level, June is full of birthday celebrations. One of our two favorite authors, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, celebrated a milestone birthday this year. Our other favorite author, Dean Wesley Smith, came up with a very creative way to help Kris celebrate this year given that parties were out. He asked her family and friends to send her cards so they could all be with her in some form on her birthday. And so, they sent cards. Dozens of them. You can read all about it here.

My daughter is also a June baby and also celebrated a milestone birthday (her 10th). This one was trickier because you only get so many kid parties in your life. That’s been the hardest part of this pandemic…everything my daughter is missing out on. She’s in the last couple of years of really wanting to play with her friends. And she’ll wind up missing at least a year of that based on current predictions. It breaks my heart.

But I said I was trying to focus on the positives, so here goes.

Because we couldn’t have an in-person birthday party, we hosted a virtual one instead. I told Nola she could invite anyone she wanted, and she did. Friends, family, even her father (my ex-husband, which made things interesting, but hey, it’s about what’s best for the child). People attended from all over the country: the closest was just next door and the furthest away were on the opposite side of the country.

And that was the coolest part: anyone who plays an important role in Nola’s life could attend her birthday party. And they did; they even figured out Google Meet to do it. Grandparents, aunts, cousins, surrogate aunts, friends who don’t live close by, friends who do but she can’t see right now…they all helped her celebrate. I splurged on a special cake from a local bakery (that’s it in the picture) even though only those who live with her could eat it. We showed everyone the cake and cut a slice for her and stuck 10 candles in it. We lit the candles and she blew them out while everyone sang her “Happy Birthday.” Then, they watched her eat her cake (kudos to everyone for enduring that torture…the cake was amazing!) and open a couple of presents. And then some dropped off and some stayed on to just chat. She had a wonderful time and declared this an awesome 10th birthday!

I was so thrilled that we found a way to make it so.

My dad stayed on the entire time just to be there with her. Even when it was just down to her cousin and a friend, he quietly stayed on. The love my dad has for his girls is demonstrated in so many quiet and subtle ways. He is always there for us. He always has been.

Which brings me to another June holiday in the US: Father’s Day.

As we live on opposite coasts, I rarely see my dad in person on Father’s Day. The pandemic hasn’t changed that. But all these creative celebrations have shown me that I can give my dad something he hasn’t ever had: the ability to “see” both of his girls and his three grandchildren at the same time on Father’s Day, thanks to the virtual technology I never thought of using until we were all forced to use it in this new way.

Of course, I’ve used virtual meeting technology for work for years (decades, in fact). I was already very familiar with Zoom because we use it for our WMG online workshops and lectures.

But I’d never thought to use it for personal relationships (outside of the occasional FaceTime) until this pandemic opened my eyes to the possibilities.

And it made me realize that although we live far apart, we can share so many more things with each other.

And for that, I’m truly thankful.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.