Dear Gramma,

Mom reminded me last week that it’s your birthday today, Sunday, January 17th. Happy Birthday! It was really good to see you and Grampa on Facetime last night during your birthday celebration. It was great to see everyone. I wish I could have jumped through the screen and teleported to Aunt Michelle’s living room to be there with you all. (Or at least spend more time online with you.) It’s always good spending time with everyone. I am especially longing for it lately. I’m tired of being socially distanced.

Having the tendency to be introverted, I normally wouldn’t mind the social distance. But, this is too much. This introvert needs energy from others at times, and when I need it and it’s not freely available, it makes me realize that this pandemic has been having its way for too long.

During the Fall semester in my classroom, there was a day when I went around to each of my in-person students to check on their work. In my closer-than-usual-in-a-pandemic interactions with them, and the energy and joy that I felt later, it made me realize that human interaction really is good and that my students are wonderful people. At the same time, though, I don’t think I would have realized this if we hadn’t had this huge slow-down, shut-down, cut-down-the-hours-at-Walmart pandemic. (Do you know, our Walmart stores all around here are closed at 10 PM these days?!? Is it the same there in Nebraska?)

Honestly, I am not happy about the deaths, job loss, and business shutdowns that this pandemic has produced, but I am happy for how it has forced us to slow down. This school year, I have only had, at most, 15 students in my classroom at one time, while all the rest are at home. I haven’t had to manage the attention, whims, and talkativeness of 35 to 40 students in a small space, all at once. Before this time, because of crowded classrooms and impossible expectations from administration, human interaction for me was very stressful. And students were really starting to get on my nerves… not because I didn’t like them… but because there were too many of them and because of the pressure coming at me from every angle. But this school year, a lot of pressure has been lifted, and I honestly hope we never go back to the way things were in certain areas in our society.

This week, in our county, all the students are being forced to stay at home and do school online again, because there is a shortage of substitute teachers – because teachers are getting sick. But, teachers who are not sick, will still go into school buildings and teach online students from their classrooms. I am not happy that the students that I DO have in-person this semester will be at home, because I do enjoy having them in my classroom. But, at the same time, THIS WEEK, I kind of am relieved that they will be at home, because of the heightened political tension, and personally it takes some stress and pressure and worry off of me. I don’t think anything terrible will happen, but it still gives me relief somehow.

I have a feeling that I will be lonely this week, all boarded up in my classroom by myself. But, I bought an electric tea kettle and tea paraphernalia for my classroom last week. I bought them so that I wouldn’t have to run out to get tea or coffee, or walk down to the weak-powered microwave in the storage closet at the end of the hall to heat up water. But, I realize, too, that this week at least I will have the comfort and company of tea in my classroom, and if I make an effort at some Facetime calls to loved ones, (and if I make a different kind of effort to hear from the Holy Spirit), that ought to help to stave off the loneliness. (I think you all may just be one of the ones I call this week during a planning period or a lunch block.)

Well, let me close this letter for now, until next time. Once again, happy birthday, and I love you so much!

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