One of the things that I look forward to every week is “Popcorn Thursday” in the Schuster house. We have had this tradition for more years than I can remember. I can’t recall when we started, or why…oh wait, I know why. We love popcorn and Thursday isn’t Friday, and it isn’t Monday, or Tuesday, or even Wednesday. It is a middle/end of the week thing.

No, we have “Popcorn Thursday”. We don’t microwave the popcorn. My wife, Michele, makes it in a stainless-steel pot on the stove. It is always awesome. We watch a show on TV, something that doesn’t commercials, and we enjoy our popcorn.

And on National Popcorn Day, January 19th, we want you to enjoy it as well, (or whenever you open the tin).

We started sending out popcorn several years ago for a number of reasons.

  • We love popcorn
  • The winter sucks once you get past Christmas
  • We all need a winter pick-me-up
  • We love popcorn
  • Why not

And as we venture into the winter of 2022, after facing the winter of 2021, we must remind ourselves of just how much we miss the consistent human connections that we never gave a second thought about in prior years.
Last year, we sent a few tins of popcorn. This year we sent a lot more. Last year, we didn’t know where folks were. What we did know, is that they weren’t at work. Probably at home. Last year we were able to unobtrusively get a few addresses, but we didn’t want to be obtrusive. (I like that word…Obtrusive).

This year, we bit the bullet and sent to wherever and whoever we had addresses for. So, there you go. Popcorn. If you are reading this and feel that we forgot about your popcorn, just let us know. Not sure we will send popcorn, or not, (we are all out…supply chain thing).

Over the past 22 months, minus 3 days, we have moved into a transformed newness. If you don’t remember, the date of change, the date of; “what the hell is happening”, it was March 16th, 2020. It was a Monday and none of knew just about anything about how the times would change. But most of went home. We worked at home. We taught school at home. We saw people, but only from a distance, and even then, we were very apprehensive. We wiped down everything…everything. Like many of you I still have gallons of anti bac.

I remember once during the start of this thing, being out on a bike ride, (I’m a cyclist), and I would be on a very deserted main road, and ride by someone who was walking on a sidewalk that was well over 10-15 feet away, and I was passing very quickly…maybe a second or two, and the person would completely turn away from me and cover their face. At first, I thought…that was a bit over the top. Then I said to myself, “how sad”.

How sad that we were afraid of other people, that we were mad at them because they might make us sick. We became angry, (and we are still, I think). We turned our head. We stayed away.

We started to lose the most important gift that we have and that is the connection to people. The friendly wave, the handshake, the hug. We stayed away from our family, our parents, our grandparents, our siblings. We feared for our kids. We feared for ourselves.

It has gotten better. Kind of.

But we are doing better. We have vaccines.
At MSA we mandated vaccines on May 3rd of last year. We felt that our MSA family needed to feel at least a bit safer as we opened our offices up and started to work together again. We also have more knowledge about Covid, (confusing at times, but at least we know some things).

Unfortunately, we also have an incredibly exhausted health care system, that even when we were able to work from home, they couldn’t. They had to be present. Present with the sick patients from Covid, present for those, who didn’t have Covid but needed their help. And those health care people became “healthcare heroes”. But I sort of think they would like not having that status.

They would probably would rather we would have all just gotten vaccinated, so they don’t have to be as exhausted anymore.

And when some of our family members sadly were in the hospital, or even more sadly, died, we couldn’t even see them. We couldn’t even have a real service, a real remembrance. They just went away.

These days we are starting to see a bit more light at the end of the tunnel. Some days it’s brighter than others. Some days it’s very, very dim. But I will tell you that I we are getting there. Before long, we will be shaking hands, giving hugs, and not giving a thought about anything but that moment of joy.

As my son said to me “We need to get back to that place where we are at a sporting event and something amazing happens…like a Bengals Playoff victory. And we don’t even think twice about hugging the person next to us, the person we don’t even know”.

We all need joy in our lives. So, the next time you are somewhere, anywhere, where that person across from you must be across from you to do their job, talk to them. Don’t just order your meal. Don’t just take your change. Don’t just tell them your symptoms, your issues, your problems, your needs. Bring some human interaction of positivity, of joy to their day. I will guarantee that it will not just brighten their day but will brighten yours. Say hello. Tell them you appreciate them. Ask them how their day is going. Bring Joy!!

So, in a way, our popcorn is meant to brighten your day…to bring a bit of Joy to your day.

And when this is all over, we will keep sending our popcorn on National Popcorn Day. Because:

  • We love popcorn
  • The winter sucks once you get past Christmas
  • We all need a winter pick-me-up
  • We love popcorn
  • Why not

Please enjoy your popcorn…commit to connection…and bring some Joy.

-Mike Schuster