Hey Elderly Aunt, how can we safely celebrate our co-worker before she leaves for a new job?

A friend and coworker accepted a new job in a different city and will be leaving Harrisonburg soon. In the time of social distancing, what’s the best way for us to honor her before she leaves? There are more than 10 of us in this department, so the usual party isn’t feasible and simply doing a virtual card seems inadequate. Any ideas would be wonderful.  

Oh goody! Another virtual pandemic gauntlet thrown down before the Elderly Aunt: How do we say a meaningful goodbye to someone from a socially-safe distance?

Off the top of her gray and tightly-bunned elderly head she has this two-part suggestion:

  1. Ask everyone in your department to write a paragraph describing a meaningful interaction they had with the departing person—something specific that she said or did that encapsulates her personal/professional value to you as an individual. Request that each post come with some sort of visual. Ask your most design-savvy colleague to put all these paragraphs together in a spiffy-looking “Statement of So-and-so’s Worth to her Colleagues in the Such-and-such Department.” 
  2. Have a Zoom going away party, complete with bring-your-own festive beverage (Wild Turkey would be the Elderly Aunt’s choice) and homemade party hats required of everyone. Once you’ve all gathered, offer a general toast to the Dear Departing One and then—with a flourish—email her the card. Once she has had time to overcome her tears, completely put her on the spot by asking her what she’s learned from working with the rest of you.

So, how does that sound, dear reader?  

But wait! There’s more!

The Elderly Aunt freely admits that she is as new at this pandemic partying business as you are, and it occurs to her those of you reading this column might also have some perfectly good socially-distant party ideas bouncing off the tops of yourheads. 

If so, would you please speak up? We’re all in this weird new world together, after all. And it does seem to the Elderly Aunt that one of the few things that hasn’t changed is that we still get by with a little help from each other. So if you have suggestions, please share them in comments on the Elderly Aunt’s Facebook page. 


The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday.  And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”

Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions). 

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