Across the country, it feels a little more each week like some of the oppressive restrictions Americans have lived under for almost a year, are slowly starting to lift, and a more hopeful mood for the country is coming to the forefront.

The simple fact that numbers for positive COVID-19 tests, hospitalizations and deaths are dramatically falling is cause for optimism alone.

There’s a long way to go, but the gloom and doom scenarios the mainstream media outlets insist on bombarding their consumers with all day every day are lightening up, and positive and optimistic people are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

While we’re a ways away from the old normal being the new normal, it’s perfectly okay to think about what newfound freedoms and mundane activities we took for granted in the past can be an option for us again.

There’s thousands of things that have changed since the country locked down in March of 2020.  Here’s the 5 things that need to happen next to make it feel like we’re almost back to being “normal.”

  1. 1. Juggling your kids schedules so one can go to soccer practice, another to a piano lesson, and a third to a sleep over, all in the same afternoon. Kids have been robbed of a year of their life when it comes to social interaction, academic and athletic growth, and extra curricular activities. The days you used to dread as a parent of hauling kids and equipment to games, practices and all their other appointments are gong to be a welcome change.

2. Packing a church for a wedding, Sunday service or even a funeral. Some churches in parts of the country are open at low capacity, but the big events that families gather for are still basically unheard of or impossible. Big weddings ceremonies and celebrations can’t come back soon enough, and that goes for less joyful events that need families and friends to gather under one roof. Funerals and memorial services have been completely halted, denying families a chance to grieve with loved ones and celebrate lives in a proper way.

3. Decide at the last minute to go to a Major League Baseball game. Why baseball? Because it’s outside (usually), accessible for anyone, and spontaneous. It defines summer, and tradition, and family fun, and you can wake up one morning and decide to go to a game that night and always get a ticket and parking spot.

4. Go to a friend’s birthday party.  In a bar. Inside. After having dinner inside a restaurant on the very same night. Yeah, this is for adults only, but when this comes back it alleviates a couple issues. It brings fun back to social lives, and it helps the business owners who’ve had to survive a nightmare the past 11 months.

5. Not see people freak out if someone sneezes in public. Have you noticed that for the past year nobody has had a common cold? Seeing somebody sneezing, wheezing or coughing in public usually led to people around the cougher to run for cover, assuming that person is a human plague transmitter. Pre pandemic most people would ignore it or not even notice it. Things have changed, and when an innocent sneeze becomes innocent again, the world will feel a little more safe and normal.

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