In the Suburbs: Missing Dogwoods, but still making Mom feel special

Since we moved to Fairfield in 1982 and learned about the famous Dogwood Festival over Mother’s Day weekend in Greenfield Hill, we made it a tradition to take our children when they were young to the festival. And that has continued. Just walking down the path and viewing these breathtaking trees, awash in brilliant colors, was wonderful. We always stopped at the food and pastry tent and more recently walked around the craft fair on both sides of the main street and enjoyed wonderful art in the building across from the church.

But alas, like most events this spring and probably beyond, our favorite Mother’s Day outing was canceled as part of the campaign to protect all of us from the corona virus. I wondered whether it might make sense to contact the First Selectwoman’s office and see whether we could just drive up to Greenfield Hill and walk the Dogwood path, especially if our daughter and grandkids joined us at a reasonable social distance. But I don’t want to break the new Covid 19 laws and alienate the town by just showing up on Mother’s Day.

Every year, after the festival, we would drive back into town for a late lunch at the Southport Brewery or Centro or one of the other great Fairfield restaurants, but that’s not happening this Mother’s Day. We’ll just have to decide which restaurant to choose for carry out, bring in brunch, lunch or dinner for our daughter and grandkids and hope the weather will be warm enough for a nice social distance picnic.

Earlier this week I drove by a brand-new restaurant near the circle, Smokin Noodle, but I didn’t see a sign for carry out. The poor owners probably had planned for a great grand opening, only to have their hopes dashed by this unexpected pandemic. So we’ll have to wait to try that one.

On Mother’s Day morning, I’ll probably get into the now regular drive-through lane at Doughnut Inn to pick up our coffee and Portugese rolls and casually drive through downtown Fairfield past the Fairfield University Bookstore, hoping that it will be one of the earlier businesses to open and I can return to work.

I really miss being at the store with all my colleagues and seeing the great customers who come in, especially on Mother’s Day weekend to buy that special book or clothes for mom. Lately on Mother’s Day, I’ve tried to work early in the day, so we could all go to Dogwood in the afternoon.

The other great thing about Mother’s Day weekend is that Fairfield University’s graduation is the following weekend, so there are usually even more folks in the store. Oh, well. All those shoppers will have to wait until late May or beyond to browse or buy their favorite books. No graduations this year.

This year, my Mother’s Day gift for my wife will likely come from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, but thankfully those stores will be open as they have been throughout this pandemic. My wife’s gift wish is very simple - the best dark chocolates our daughter and I can find or great chocolate chip dippers from Trader Joe’s.

But the greatest gift for her will be to see our daughter Stacey and two little grandsons, Lucas and Caleb, even if it’s at a distance, for a short while. They will come down here and we’ll probably order out from someplace like Circle Diner or Centro and set up snack tables for our celebration.

Now that our sewing room is coming together, my wife has been working on a special kid’s mask for Lucas, our older grandson, and one for Stacey. If she can finish those by Sunday, they will be great gifts. It’s ironic that something as small as a mask will have such a different meaning this year.

But it really is those little things and especially the 6-9 foot contact, albeit brief, with loved ones that reminds us about what Mother’s Day stands for. Perhaps we’ve learned from this pandemic and our forced quarantines that the greatest gift for all of us is being with our families, whether it’s for a few minutes or a few hours.

And here is an interesting twist. One of my readers, Maggie, suggested that to brighten Mother’s Day we consider putting up a few of our holiday lights and even adding a few decorations to make this occasion more festive. She believes as I do that there are ways to beat the effects of this pandemic by reminding ourselves that we can always bring the holiday season to May and celebrate mom at the same time. So break out those lights, put out a festive table cloth and make mom feel like the queen she is every day.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears on Friday. He can be reached at