When socializing becomes too demanding

The pleasure of sharing a meal traded for a brief afternoon coffee

All I want is to have dinner with my family again, but I’m simply too exhausted because of pandemic fatigue. Graphic Joey Bruce

The old family  tradition of having dinner with my family, the five of us together, is now a distant memory because of the current restrictions. The pleasure I had from hearing all about my loved ones' lives over a comforting shared meal is deeply missed.

For two years now, the impacts of the pandemic have affected our daily lives. With the implementation of permanent teleworking for some, and relationships ending because of forced isolation for others, I wonder what new habits will remain when we return to normal, either for better or worse. But the change in habits that pains me the most is the evolution of hosting dinners.

Before the pandemic, eating was a pleasure to share with my family. Sunday was sacred and my sisters and I salivated at the idea of our parents cooking a tasty meal for us, knowing that we were going to spend hours around the table talking about everything and nothing. I’ve been living on my own for a couple of years now, so Sunday evenings were when I got to feel close to my family again, like I was living back home . 

When time allowed, there was even dessert and board games. Sprinkled with childhood anecdotes, these evenings spiced up our sometimes dull routines, and above all made us feel happy. 

Today, things are different. The health restrictions at the start of the pandemic changed the way we socialize and as a result, the pleasures of eating a meal with my family are not possible anymore. 

Because of pandemic fatigue, I think people no longer want to gather around a hot and comforting dish. Instead, an evening alone has become more pleasant and less draining than forcing myself to do small talk. Before the pandemic I used to go to my parents’ house once or twice a week, but now I only go once in a while. 

Even if the pandemic restrictions are now looser, my parents do not seem to have the energy to cook for the entire family anymore. They would rather invite us for a simple coffee, but unfortunately that reunion is a lot shorter than our old evening dinners, and way less fun. I noticed  this phenomenon happening with a lot of people around me. When I invite people over for dinner, or try to find time for activities, people usually prefer to keep things short. 

And I am obviously not blaming anyone though with this statement. I myself feel tired on week nights, or during the weekend, after having spent hours throughout the week on Zoom meetings. I am only saying that I feel nostalgic about the old times, and that sometimes, I wish things would go back to the way they were before.

I must say that after witnessing my peer’s social exhaustion, it saddens me that people can’t seem to find it in them to be social anymore. I hope that it will not be the new normal and that we will be able to come back to a life resembling  the old times soon.