Taking Some Time for a Fireside (Or Front Porch) Chat

March 25, 2020


In this current season of insulation and isolation there are still some things in which to take heart.  With the hiatus on many modes of entertainment, such as movies, concerts, and sporting events don’t we each very much still crave and need social stimulus and interaction?


This past Sunday we had a couple of friends over for a glass of wine and visit on the front porch.  It reminded me of something my parents or grandparents likely did back in the day.  Maintaining a safe social distance, we spent a few moments talking about Covid-19, but then glided effortlessly into conversation about family, friends, and stories.  It was a warm and beautiful early spring afternoon in Northwest Florida and the discussion was carefree and delightful. 


Earlier that day I’d heard a message about one of the lesser recognized traditions of our 32nd President, Franklin Roosevelt.  Much of the time of his administration he was beset by the challenges of a Financial Depression, a World War, or both.  In that era of more primitive media, his Fireside Chats over the radio helped foster encouragement and psychological safety for many desperate and weary American families.  Most of us now have read about these broadcasts in our history books or heard of them, and the rallying point they served.


Less remembered was what Roosevelt did for his own mental health and that of his family, friends, and close colleagues:  the “FDR Cocktail Hour.”  At 5:00 each evening the President and invited others would gather at the White House for drinks and chatter.  There was one caveat of the get together, however.  Any talk or discussion about the economy, war, or other related subjects was strictly prohibited.  The result was a free flow of conversation about any number of topics not having to do with money or artillery. 


An idea struck about paying that concept a few decades forward to now with a more contemporary twist.  First of all, it will require every member of the small group of less than ten to have a dollar or two at the ready.  Second, it will need to be respectful of adherence to the standards of today’s best health and safety practices.  Also, unlike FDR’s events cocktails or alcoholic beverages are optional.  Lastly, the only other item needed is a hat, bucket, or other such vessel. 


Here it is.  What if, instead of a full embargo on any chatter about Covid-19, with it being 2020, we limit mention of the Corona Virus in our casual exchanges to the first 20 minutes of discussion?  After that, it is forbidden subject matter.  Should a regression occur, however, the other group members call out the infraction, to which one thin dollar is deposited into a group kitty by the individual so charged of violation.  The accumulated corpus is then preserved in the domain of the gathering’s host family.  As the trajectory of the virus slows, the proceeds are then presented to an agency that will offer relief to those assisting others who may have been most impacted:  social service agencies, charities that benefit people in need, community reinvestment organizations, etc. 


What do you think?


The Seed Sower