Social isolation has been thrust upon us. We have been enduring it for a while and some of us have at least a month yet to go or more. If you are feeling imprisoned in your home, what can you do to make this socially isolated life easier?

Criminals who have been caught and convicted find themselves really locked in. However, if they have the funds, they can hire councilors (usually ex-cons) to advise them on how to best get through their confinement.

We are not in jail. We are in the homes that we have worked hard to make comfortable and attractive. But as social isolation closes in, we, too, could use some of those councilors’ advice.

Prisoners are advised not to keeping counting the weeks or months until their release. We could not do that if we tried since we do not know exactly when it will end for certain.

They are then told not to spend time and energy pining over what it is they would or could be doing if they were free. Instead, it is best to concentrate on whatever positive things are available, even if it is only a movie that will be shown next Thursday.

This is good advice for us, but we need to find something positive to focus on. We do not want to be like the man who the first thing one morning, teased his wife by promising a great event that was going to happen in 16 hours. The answer was bedtime.

Something we can look forward to every day under the current limitations is dinner, but it is up to us to make it worth anticipating.

I have known many people who have filled a spell of unemployment and idleness or an otherwise empty weekend by beginning the day planning a lovely evening meal and then shopping and cooking to make it happen. In the current social isolation, there is much benefit in following their examples.

We are more limited on shopping, so we can begin by surveying our fridges, freezers and pantries. An Internet search or even a look into all those cookbooks we have not opened for a while should give us some ideas on how to use what we have to make something appealing and attractive.

Not all of us can easily run to the store to pick up anything we are missing so we must remember that recipes are guidelines, not gospel. Can we skip an ingredient or find a substitute?

Nor need every dinner involve a lot of elaborate cooking. A little creativity can result in turning the various bits in the fridge into a bowl that will rival anything you could get delivered.

Preparing nice food is only one step in making dinner worth looking forward to. The meal must be nicely presented. Set the table and eat there, not on the couch with Netflix –even if you are by yourself. Use the good dishes.

And dress for dinner. If there is family with you, insist they dress as well. It does not have to be ball gowns and dinner jackets but should be neat, clean and as least as nice as what you would wear to a casual restaurant. Do your hair and do your face.

If it is permitted and especially if you are alone, put the dressing and the grooming to good use by going out for an exercise walk before or after dinner. Wave at everyone behind your mask. Or cheer up a friend with a video call. Even on a voice call, you will sound cheerier when you know you look good.

My dad lived to 100, on his own until close to the end. He used to say that no matter what else was happening, you could always enjoy a good dinner. Bon appetit!


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