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Curious City What Got Me Through

15 Things Helping Chicagoans Get Through The Pandemic

As Illinois marked a year of the pandemic this month, we’ve heard a lot about the struggles and hardships of the last year. But at Curious City we’ve also heard about a lot of moments of joy. So we asked folks on social media to tell us about the little things that got them through. We heard some common themes: nature, food, drink, people, exercise and streaming. We share a few of them here, but for the broader list, check out the original post.



"When the Field Museum is open, it gives my 8-year-old son meaning. It’s the only place he will go that he feels is 'safe.' Each time we have gone he speaks to SUE to catch up."

—Maggie Baran

"Birdwatching. Hiking in the forest preserves and photographing nature, especially birds. I saw this Indigo Bunting at Cap Sauers Holding in the Palos Region."

—Patricia O'Donnell

"Walking. 10,000 steps almost every day. Just resumed it after a short break. (I need clear sidewalks!) Kind of a life changer. Started it as a coping mechanism but now it’s just an obsession (and helps accommodate all the cheese and wine!)"

—Liz Barrett

“I work for a big delivery service. What got me through the last year of 60 plus hour weeks and record package volume: Feeling like my job actually mattered to people. I didn't miss one day of work (except scheduled time off) for a year. No sick days, no quarantine days... It was exciting, exhausting, invigorating, frightening, all at once."

—Greg Henkin

"Baking! Have gotten to be an expert Challah maker — homemade challah every Friday for Shabbat. Have tons of different shapes and braids but this one was especially pretty."

—Elaine Podber Haney

“Even though my son who is a sophomore in college worked remotely this year, he wasn’t home much and it was just me and the cat. We are both middle-aged women — I had my son when I was almost 43 — and if I want to relax, she’s good company. She’s also good company if I want to play with her. … She was supposed to be my son’s cat but we both agree, she’s mine. My little pandemic buddy.”

—Gigi Lubin

“Getting outside, especially hiking parts of the Ice Age Trail with my family.”

—Leslie LaPlante

“Christmas lights (my first ever, I'm not Christian). And twinkly lights in general — we also strung lights in our back yard finally over the summer and I was surprised at how they affected my mood.”

—Kiki Yablon

“Fanless games: When the media was finally allowed to be at the [camps and games] we had temperature checks and socially distanced seating arrangements but we were back…. As a media member it was great but weird sitting in the box hearing the PA and canned crowd noise replacing fans…but even though it wasn’t normal, it felt a little normal sitting back at a game and it made me feel good for a little bit again before I had to go home.”

—Cheryl Raye Stout

"Outdoor meetups with grandsons and patio heaters that let us eat dinner with our granddaughter in the garage."

—Deborah Donovan

“Since the pandemic began, I vowed to keep a bouquet of fresh flowers in my house continuously. In the spring and summer I picked tiger lilies and lilacs and forsythia. Trader Joe's and Aldi have provided affordable little bundles of joy. The beauty and color have brightened my spirits as our family of four works and goes to school from home.”

—Barb Hailey

“Grown kids who came home and a houseful of critters. Puzzles especially during the first winter!”

—Carrie Kirby

“Infused chocolate chip potato chip cookies.”

—Mona Lisa Smith

“Growing vegetables on my back deck was a great way to enjoy the sun and outdoors in 2020. My tomato plant was abundant, shishito peppers were shared by many, and Japanese eggplants were bountiful.”

—Harold Gordon

"Tea parties with my three-year-old daughter, Harper."

—Laura Davis

Monica Eng is a reporter for Curious City. Follow her @monicaeng.

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