Community members find creative ways to celebrate during pandemic

By Claire Nelson
This photo illustration represents how the fun doesn’t have to stop just because there is a global pandemic. While following social distancing rules and public safety measures, community members have found creative ways to celebrate their loved ones on their special day. 

Makaila Baron, Practicum Contributor

Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and other celebrations are still taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic—and although Benton County is in the process of reopening businesses, Governor Kate Brown’s Stay Home Save Lives executive order is still in act and will be until at least July 6, 2020. While following social distancing rules, community members have found creative ways to celebrate their loved ones on their special day. 

Technology has been blamed for being the cause of social disconnect, but today it is bringing people together. Some families are streaming their birthday experience, while others stay at home and celebrate among the family or friends they live with. However, there will always be a Facebook reminder to post “Happy Birthday” on a friend’s Facebook wall. 

Sara Teel hosted a Zoom meeting with her family for her birthday. She had a margarita night with them via video chat. Sara and her husband Payden Teel normally go to the mall and a nice restaurant for her birthday. However COVID-19 has given these locations reason to close for the time being, so they planned differently. Friends helped their celebration by dropping off gifts on their front porch.

An advantage to online celebrations is that it allows for the attendance of friends and family who live too far to attend otherwise—though the presents they send may not arrive on time. Payden said he and his mother-in-law purchased gifts for Sara that were supposed to arrive before her birthday, but the packages are still in the process of being delivered. Payden suspects that packages these days will take six to eight weeks to ship. 

Chad Teel, Payden’s father, is a truck driver for Chad and Nancy Buckles LLC. According to Chad, truck drivers are getting their hours cut per mile. People who work in the shipment warehouses are also having their hours cut. Meanwhile, Amazon is only shipping necessary goods on time while other things may take longer, like six to eight weeks.

The Salvatierra family also celebrated a birthday recently, their oldest son turned 13. Shekinah Salvatierra asked her Facebook friends to send her son cards for his birthday. Many did so but some other friends made his day special by doing chalk art on their driveway, or dropping presents and birthday coffee off on the front porch. 

“He enjoyed his birthday and that’s what matters to me,” Salvatierra said.

Birthdays aren’t all that’s going on, couples are also hosting baby showers. Ashlee Brawley hosted a baby shower via Facebook Live. Her sister Amberlin Gates Brown got the idea from Facebook to put together a parade for her sister. She got at least 10 cars together and they decorated all of them right before. 

“We drove by once playing music, waving and holding signs out the window—the second time, cars dropped off gifts on the driveway,” Gates Brown said. A few hours later, the Brawley family opened the gifts they received from their friends and family over Facebook Live.

Gates Brown said no matter how these special events are celebrated, what matters is that they are celebrated and shared with those who care.

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