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Reasons to Smile: 5th Anniversary

3 min read

Is it possible to celebrate during the coronavirus crisis?

We respect the terrible tragedy the COVID-19 pandemic has created and our hearts go out to all the families and individuals who are suffering. But we also need to gather online and find reasons to smile. We've asked people to share their experiences finding joy in the lock down. 

Today, Stewart shares his adventure celebrating his fifth wedding anniversary.

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Celebrating an Anniversary on Lock down


By Stewart Aagaard

Stewart (right) with husband Thomas on their wedding day in 2015

A lot can happen in four weeks. It's the amount of time it took for me to fall in love with my now-husband and decide to get married, way back in 2014.

It's also the amount of time we all took to go from unease about the coronavirus crisis to a lock down mentality across the USA. 

In these trying times, it's essential to be responsible. My husband and I had been planning on celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary on March 21 with a fun-filled weekend in Las Vegas: good food, fun times, and perhaps a little celebratory gambling. Naturally, the constant news updates during the last few weeks made us question if a weekend away was the right choice.

Ultimately, we decided a weekend mini-break would be irresponsible, and it seems everyone agreed with us. The casinos are now closed, and Las Vegas is currently a shadow of its former self. So, what to do instead? We're a week into our self-proclaimed social isolation plan and haven't left home since March 15. The challenge was on: could we celebrate without leaving the house?

Like many other people across the world dealing with the coronavirus crisis, we wanted to get creative and ensure we had a great time at home. We decided on an experiment: could we bring Las Vegas to us? Ready the playing cards and poker chips, chill the Sauvignon Blanc, play the beats, set our lighting to 'atmospheric,' and embrace what we love most about the casino vibe? Yes, we definitely could! We planned our Vegas experience to start at 8 pm.

What else? We wanted our friends and family to celebrate with us too. Unusually, we're now hearing from our family more frequently than ever. Believe me, I'm not complaining. We arranged a midday Skype video call with friends and family near and far, and all raised a glass to good health! It was a very sweet gesture.

Next: sustenance! With the possibility of a trip to the Heart Attack Grill off the table, we knew we wanted to do something that would feel special. My husband had the perfect suggestion - we would create a banquet inspired by one of our too-often-ignored cookbooks. Cross-checking with our cupboards, the pinnacle of our feast became a tasty and fortifying Calabrian Lasagna. Dinner was planned for 7pm - and we set aside two hours of together-time to cook, chat, and laugh in the kitchen.

Photo by Jack Hamilton on Unsplash

All in all, I think we really created the perfect at-home celebration. We took our time while cooking together and shared a few glasses of wine. We held a fast and furious two-person Texas Hold 'Em tournament, and we each started with $10,000 in chips and played until one of us had $19,900 (I decided to save face and keep my last poker chip!). Then we followed our Vegas-inspired fun with a classic movie. We chose Aliens as we wanted a scary disaster movie that's definitely fiction and wouldn't give us any surprises.

Alongside the fun, we also talked about the ever-changing state of the world and created a plan for when we can get back to Las Vegas. The whole day was great, but above it all, spending a day dedicated to togetherness was the perfect anniversary activity. We should all be thankful for the time we can spend with our loved ones.

My final thought: arrange a video call with family and friends today and make time to catch up. It's essential to remain connected with the ones you love.

Stewart and Thomas Aagaard: Relaxing on our balcony before cooking commenced

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