By Shannon Rabotski
JUDA — In the age of COVID-19, cancelations and social distancing recommendations have left families around the nation struggling to find safe forms of entertainment.
For the Daniels family of Juda, that entertainment was found in the safety of their own home when they had what they thought might be a one-time themed dinner party in April to celebrate Lia Daniels’s 15th birthday.
Each of the five family members donned costumes to follow the theme of musicals. Characters from Broadway musicals including “Wicked” and “Dear Evan Hansen” made their appearances at the table, sparking joy and bringing fun to the Daniels household after more than a month of following safer-at-home orders.
Realizing that the following weekend was supposed to be prom, the family decided once again to dress up for dinner, this time with prom dresses and suits.
“Then it was like, ‘oh this is kind of fun, we should just do this,’” mother Corrine Daniels said.
From then on, it became a Saturday evening tradition, switching eventually to an every-other-Saturday event.
With students around the country being sent home from college and even work, the family had all three children home again and needed a way to continue spreading positivity and joy.
“Here we are with three young people who are used to going and doing things,” Corrine said. “There had to be something fun to do.”
Other themes the family has used have been Harry Potter, goth, the 1950s, detectives, villains and bluegrass.
When a relevant costume is available, sometimes the dog even gets involved, making appearances as characters such as Toto from “Wicked” or Dobby from “Harry Potter.” For the rest of the family, costumes are typically chosen within a few days of the Saturday dinner and have been made almost entirely with clothing and costumes the family already owns.
Each of the family members have their own costume that they are most proud of or had the most fun with, but they try not to make it a competition.
That doesn’t stop commenters on Corrine’s Facebook posts of the dinners from announcing each night’s “winner.”
For some of the themes, the family will keep their chosen costumes a secret, adding to the anticipation of seeing everyone dressed up at the table.
Even after COVID-19 is controlled and safer-at-home recommendations are lifted, the family plans to keep the new Saturday tradition going.
“It’s something to look forward to at the end of the week,” Lia said.