THE BEST SELLERS’ LIST- Ain’t You Grad: Finding some silver linings about graduating during a pandemic

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By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Normally, Kindergarten classrooms, middle schools, high schools and college campuses would be performing ceremonies to celebrate the Class of 2020. But a global pandemic has a way of shutting down all the fun and traditions. 
Most colleges have accepted the fate of the coronavirus and canceled traditional stadium and arena graduations. Elementary and middle schools have settled for principals driving up to student’s homes or virtual observances.
Meanwhile, a few high schools have found a way to have a more traditional graduation later this month. This rite of passage is important and crucial to most students.
For 13 to 17 years, a person has worked hard to achieve the grades, passed the tests and learned those lessons to obtain that piece of paper. This ceremony is the reward for all the sacrifice and time devoted to an education.
But when life deals you a basket full of lemons, you have a chance to make lemonade. This Best Sellers’ List is going to pour out 10 cups of delicious, sweet lemon juice during this graduation season.
Here is a list of 10 good things about graduating during a global pandemic. Remember, students who won’t have a ceremony this year, you’re still a graduate. You just didn’t get all the pomp and circumstances.

  1. No fighting
    From Arlington High School locally to various campuses across the country, emotions can get heated. You’re there to see your special someone get that diploma and hear their name.
    But somebody is outshouting you and putting on a performance for the ages. Frankly, they are getting on your nerves. That positive emotion quickly transforms to rage.
    Now you and a total stranger are fighting at a graduation. This won’t happen in 2020 with canceled graduation and social distancing enforced if your school is conducting a ceremony.
  2. No gift pressure
    If a child has the audacity to call you during a global pandemic demanding some kind of present, you have every right to roast them about being selfish.
    There are shortages of bleach, tissue, meat, rubbing alcohol and other basic necessities. We have more important things to worry about instead of a gift for your graduation.
    And with most stores limited, each child should be more understanding about not getting a grand gift in 2020.
  3. No long time standing
    During “Pomp and Circumstance,” you are demanded to stand up the entire time for each student marching and then remain standing for prayer and the national anthem.
    Then there are a couple more moments during the ceremony when you must get back up. And finally, once the caps are tossed in the air, you head to the field, floor or stage for more minutes of standing.
  4. No awkward family moments
    “Oh, the in-laws are coming?”
    “Your sister you haven’t seen in 8 years said she will be there.”
    “You know I don’t like him. … He has the nerve to be at our child’s graduation?”
    These are statements uttered in some households each May. Then once you’re around that family member who you don’t like or know that well, you must pretend like you’re having a good time.
    Now with no graduation or limited tickets, you have a good reason not to invite or see that “special loved one.”
  5. No missing another person’s graduation
    Do you have two or more children graduating in a single year? No worries this year. You can just send them an email, Zoom greeting, social media message or even use snail mail.
    No awkward moments of coming up with an excuse to choose one child over the other. You don’t have to play favorites in 2020.
  6. No traffic
    When you get to the graduation early, you are full of anticipation for the moment of seeing your student graduate. You are purely excited for the spotlight being on your child.
    Then after all the names have been called and all the tears have been shed, it is time to get back into the car and release anger to the standstill traffic.
    Police try to guide you out as smoothly as possible in the smallest amount of time, but there are hundreds of cars to release back into the wild.
  7. No travel
    Speaking of travel, some folks have to schedule a flight, bus or rental car to head to another city, state or country in some cases.
    Just like a disease, a person can be in another place in a matter of minutes or hours. But 2020 doesn’t have that convenience. You don’t have to plan agendas, schedules or itineraries. You can isolate yourself in your house and go online to send your regrets to your graduate about the whole cancelation.
    Once your conversation is over, make sure you close the app and then you can resume your day in your favorite pair of underwear.
  8. Helpful to your diet
    Buffet, large cookout or sit-down family restaurant, almost all graduations have a post-celebration meal.
    Most options involve thousands of calories and unhealthy choices. But that barbecuing your uncle did all day must be eaten. If you order that expensive food, you will eat all of it. And buffets have so many delicious items to partake in that you cannot limit yourself.
    Now we don’t have to endure the tough choices, feeling guilty about eating too much or offending your uncle by just eating two hamburgers.
  9. No party at your house
    When your child in the honoree, it’s your obligation as a parent to host the graduation party.
    You place your house, yard and other properties in danger from relatives, friends and some of their peers.
    You don’t have to pray for protection of your house in 2020. If your child is having a graduation, you feel an obligation to patronize a local restaurant to help the business recover in this economy.
    At least for this year, houses are a little bit safer amidst a global pandemic.
  10. Save money
    Just look at the previous entries and tally up how much money you will save this year. And you can even limit how much cash you put into a card.
    But just think of all the money you will save on not traveling, buying gifts, hosting a party, filling up gas and purchasing outfits for the graduation.
    If you have a significant budget already planned for your special graduate, give them all the money or put it away toward their college future.
    That way, you can make this tough time a little bit easier for your member of the Class of 2020.
    Hopefully, we learn how to celebrate these moments in the future smarter and with better priorities.
    Let’s remember the bitter taste from the lemons we have been dealt. But there is always some sugar and water nearby to make it refreshing.
    THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to thomas@magicvalleypublishing.com.