Why We Still Clap

By Jason Klein 

We open our garage at the same time every night.

No matter what.

We stop whatever we’re doing and open it up.

We’ve been doing it for more than a year.  Every night.  Without fail.

Our quiet neighborhood knows, when that garage goes up, something loud is about to go down.

Our 7:00 PM “Clappy Hour.”

Each night at 7:00 PM, my wife, two daughters, and I emerge from our garage like a family of bears waking from hibernation.  We walk to the top of our driveway, look around our calm and peaceful development, and then start celebrating like a walk-off hit just sent the Yankees to the World Series.

We clap!  We yell!  We cheer!  Sometimes, we even sing!

We’re loud!

Our noise pierces the air like a vaccine jab to the shoulder.

We started doing it in April 2020, about a month into the COVID-19 Pandemic.  It was the trendy thing to do back then.  Now, we share “Clappy Hour” with just one other couple in our development.  It’s our nightly salute to all the frontline and essential workers who have bravely sacrificed for us over the last 15 months.

Yeah, we’re still doing that!

On occasion, some of our neighbors, unknowingly out for a leisurely stroll, get caught in the middle of all our racket.  Sometimes, we get funny looks, as if to say, “this is still going on?!”  Other times, our unsuspecting peers decide to start clapping along with us as they walk by.

Their bewildered behavior indicates this ritual may have lost steam with some, but it’s remained an important part of our day.  For us, the clapping is sort of therapeutic.  It’s a short moment of jubilation that’s kept us going during an otherwise difficult and lonely period of time.  It’s a daily opportunity to honor the extraordinary sacrifices that our frontline and essential workers have made.  It’s also a time to reflect.

My wife at work during the Pandemic

While clapping, I often think about my health, my family’s health, and the difficult decisions we’ve made to sustain it.  I honor those who guided us along the way with responsible, fact-based advice.

As my daughters jump up and down, shrieking in celebration, I think about how challenging the past year has been for them.  They experienced a year of childhood, through a screen, without friends or activities.  However, their ability to adjust and entertain themselves with endless creativity has made me proud.

I also clap every night to show my gratitude.  My wife sits atop my list.  She’s spent the last year covered in PPE from head-to-toe.  As an inpatient Physical Therapist, she’s been helping COVID patients regain strength after difficult bouts with this ruthless virus.  Her daily, direct exposure has been a challenge for our family, but it’s also kept us educated and aware.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve started applauding for vaccines, the scientists that developed them, the medical professionals administering them, and the millions of selfless people who have taken them to protect themselves and their neighbors.  My wife was vaccinated in January.  I got mine in April.  I respect someone’s right to opt against vaccination, but I clap with boundless amounts of gratitude for those that chose this safe and effective path out of Pandemic hell.

Vaccinated in April 2021

Finally, I find myself celebrating the simple things that got me through it all.  I clap for Zoom, Netflix and high speed internet.  I honor my daughters’ teachers, the mailman, UPS and FedEx guys. I recognize my Bluetooth earbuds and a limitless stream of podcasts and music.  I cheer for my Twitter feed, puzzles, take-out food, hazy IPAs and my Peloton.  I salute the athletes who entertained me on TV and the grandparents who entertained my children on FaceTime.

One day, the clapping will stop.  My appreciation for everyone and everything that got us through this Pandemic will not, though.

Until last call for “Clappy Hour,” we’ll continue to applaud our slow return back to more normal times.  Times when we can safely see all our friends and family. Times when most things in society open up…besides our garage, of course.