Life in the days of a pandemic are anything but typical.
So amid stay-at-home orders, donning face masks in public, washing groceries and other safety measures, the city of Pickerington on March 27 -- roughly a week after the official start of spring -- installed a fully decorated Christmas tree near the gazebo at Center and Columbus streets in Olde Pickerington Village.
The tree was put up at the direction of Mayor Lee Gray.
He took his cue, however, from Glenda England, a Pickerington resident since 1975 and a librarian at Fairfield Elementary School from 1980 to 2010.
Gray said England had suggested putting up the lights typically hung in Olde Pickerington Village, or the Christmas tree, to lift people's spirits during a challenging time.
"I thought it was a great idea," Gray said.
England bristled at attention being drawn to her for the idea, saying she didn't make the suggestion for the sake of recognition.
Rather, she was thinking of the well-being of fellow community members.
"When they do the Christmas lights -- the white ones downtown or the purple ones for the sports teams -- it just looks so nice," England said. "That's Pickerington. We are purple and white.
"I just thought people need a bright spot. It was just a thought, kind of a tree of hope."
England said it is her wish that people who drive through the downtown will be heartened by the lighted tree and people who live nearby and can walk to see it or who can see it from their homes also might get a boost of their spirits.
Additionally, she said, she hopes the tree reminds people in the community to be mindful of others and to look out for each other.
"I hope that it will also encourage people to maybe send a letter to a shut-in, or to a friend or family member," she said. "Pass a little kindness.
"We can all do something. Call someone up and say, 'Hello. How are you?' "
Gray said the small project has elicited a number of positive responses.
In that respect, he said, England's idea seems to be accomplishing much of what she had hoped for the community.
"This was an easy way for us to bring a little joy during a difficult and uncertain time," Gray said. "The response to it has been great. People really seem to enjoy it."