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My nonna lived to be 92. She was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, and was full of charming yet specific wisdom like, “Boys don’t like girls with wet hair,” and “Boys don’t like girls with ripped jeans” until she passed away. Nonna also had a very set routine, and towards the end of her life, she stayed at home a lot. As time has passed through quarantine, I’ve noticed that I have adopted some of Nonna’s old habits.

Nonna & a gift-wrapped baby Erin.

Here are some of the ways in which I am slowly turning into my Italian grandmother thanks to COVID-19.

Making my bed every day

Judge me if you want to, but I never used to make my bed when I had to go into the office. And now, thanks to the fact that my bedroom is now my office, it has to stay clean for me to work in it with a clear mind. So my bed gets made every single morning, without fail. I think Nonna is giving me a slight nod of approval from heaven.

Watching Jeopardy every night at 7pm

Nonna used to watch the news, Jeopardy!, and Wheel of Fortune every. single. night. That lady never missed a weeknight of local ABC programming. I’m not really sure what she got out of Jeopardy! since her English was not the best and she wasn’t a trivia hound as far as I could tell, but we spent many a night watching her block of shows together. I now follow in Nonna’s footsteps and tune in for Jeop! (said like Jeb!) every night. I love trivia and really love yelling at the contestants when they miss obvious answers. I do skip Wheel of Fortune, though. No disrespect to Vanna and Pat, but spelling guessing games are so boring.

Reusing napkins

I’m pretty sure Nonna used one to two napkins per week—total. She was a neat eater and managed to use every square inch of one across multiple meals. We stan a sustainable queen. I did a lot more of this reusing in March and April, when paper products were scarce, but have since relaxed my stance and gone back to being a wasteful monster. Mi dispiace, Nonna!

Cooking for a small army

Nonna was a big believer in leftovers. Her fridge was constantly filled with the remains of various meals. She always encouraged me to eat, even if I wasn’t hungry, every time I visited. Mangia!

Given how much my family loves and finds comfort in food it’s only natural that I’d find solace in cooking during this pandemic. But truth be told, I’ve never really been able to cook for one. I make sauce for days. I am incapable of cooking a normal human amount of food. I am constantly offering—nay, demanding—my roommates eat some of my food. And it sounds a little like this: “Please, dear God, eat, I made too much.”

And just in case that wasn’t enough like my Nonna, I’m pretty sure I’ve also consumed my body weight in hot soppressata in quarantine. And I also started doing that thing where I cut fruit towards my body, with my thumb on the knife, just like she did. Because if you know, you know. It’s incredibly dangerous, but I think the fruit really tastes better that way.

FaceTiming/Skype-ing every day

Nonna was a Skype fiend. She talked to our relatives in Italy frequently, and was always active on Skype. Seriously, she left her computer open all day, every day, and was on calls a lot. Like so many of us, I’ve been FaceTiming various family and friends so much more while in quarantine. Part of it is my mom and stepdad just got a new puppy, and I’m upset I won’t get to see her while she’s still small, but that’s a separate tangent. I love talking to people and I miss everybody. And I definitely miss my Nonna.

Silently judging people

Judging is another thing I’ve been doing since I was born, but I think it’s become heightened in quarantine, with specific regards to people not wearing masks. I can just hear Nonna shaking her head, making some kind of “ay ay ayyy” or “sheeeesh” in disapproval. I like to pass this on by staring at folks I see not wearing masks. They may not be able to see that I’m doing this because I’m also wearing sunglasses, but I like to think my scowl is strong enough that they know I’m glaring. Wear masks, people!

These are just a few of the habits I’ve picked up through quarantine. What about you? Are you turning into your parents, grandparents, or some mortifying hybrid of the two? Let me know on Twitter – @vailerin32!

Erin Vail

Erin is the 2003 West Reading Elementary Geography Bee champion, a TV obsessive, and never not thinking about Buffalo sports.

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