Happy 20th Birthday, Molly!

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Well, it was a birthday that won’t soon be forgotten…

And certainly a birthday far different then the one we imagined for Molly’s 20th.

First of all, we never expected to have Molly home for her birthday celebration. If life had moved forward as planned, Molly would have been celebrating her 20th birthday in Provo, Utah with her missionary companion. Instead, Sister McCleery, was at home for her big day, as we find ourselves living through a worldwide pandemic, quarantined at home, with Molly attending the missionary training center online instead of in person.

The reality of the world as it stands now, on Molly’s 20th birthday, is best documented by the following excerpt shared by a friend:

“Just so I NEVER forget….. April 7, 2020

Gas price was $1.04/gallon
School cancelled – yes cancelled – since 3/12; teachers and students are now all doing online schooling.
Social distancing and self quarantining measures on the rise.
Tape on the floors at grocery stores and others to help distance shoppers (6ft) from each other.
Limited number of people inside stores, therefore, lineups outside the store doors.
Non-essential stores and businesses mandated closed.
Parks, trails, entire cities locked up.
Entire sports seasons cancelled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events – cancelled.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings – cancelled.
No masses or services, churches are closed.
No gatherings of 50 or more, then 10 or more, now none at all except the people you live with.
Scouts, clubs, and groups are hosting virtual Zoom meetings.
Children’s outdoor play parks are closed.
Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towels, no laundry soap, no hand sanitizer.
Shelves are bare.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitizer and PPE.
Government closes the border to all non-essential travel.
Fines are established for breaking the rules.
Stadiums and recreation facilities open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
Daily updates on new cases, recoveries, and deaths.
Government incentives to stay home.
Barely anyone on the roads.
People wearing masks and gloves outside.
Essential service workers are terrified to go to work.
Medical field workers are afraid to go home to their families.

This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.

Molly’s day was filled with classes and MTC training. She had a limited amount of free time in the middle of the day, so we reserved our celebration for first thing in the morning and for the end of the day.

We arrived at her bedroom door at 7:30 am, ready to wake her with her traditional birthday cake slice and birthday song. She was already awake and doing her personal scripture study when we walked in. We greeted her with a birthday sign,

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And a birthday song.

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She made her wish and blew out her candle.

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The rest of her birthday cheesecake was reserved to enjoy later as a family.

Before the busyness of her day began, we gathered in the living room to give Molly her birthday gifts.

Luckily most of our birthday planning was proactive, as the original plan was to celebrate her birthday mid-March, before she left for the MTC. This means gifts were already purchased and wrapped, the makings for her birthday dinner were already in the pantry, and her cheesecake had been chilling in the freezer for weeks in preparation of her special day.

She received gifts fitting for our sweet sister missionary, including a new dress from Braden,

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A new necklace from Tyler,

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A quill pen and ink set from Rusty,

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Water color pens from Grace and Zach, and a messenger bag from Toby and I.

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During the day Molly received love sent from those afar, including a birthday card/gift from Mimi Joy and from Aunt Kelly’s crew, a surprise package from her best buddy (Tatum,) a phone call from Uncle Travis and Aunt Krista, and the traditional birthday serenade on the answering machine from Mimi and Pop Pop Real.

That evening we enjoyed a dinner of spaghetti pizza, garlic knots and Caesar salad, per Molly’s request, before ending the meal with cheesecake.

For Molly’s birthday activity she requested a bonfire outside…the first of the season!

It was a beautiful evening and the weather cooperated.

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We ate dinner around the fire,

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And then pulled out the marshmallows for an after dinner treat.

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Everyone filled up on toasted marshmallows while we did our family scripture study by firelight.

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We ended the evening, as we do every birthday, with each family member expressing the trait they love most about the birthday person. This was the high point of the day for Miss Molly, whose love language is words of affirmation.

Happy birthday, Miss Molly!

We love you to the moon and back!

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