And finally: Saying it with flowers
Three weeks ago, Julia Gray, a florist, delivered a bright bouquet of flowers to a customer in Queens. Judging by the accompanying card, which the sender had carefully dictated to Ms. Gray by telephone, a familial falling-out had taken place. The flowers were sent as an apology.
As the de facto manager of Donhauser Florist, an Astoria flower shop opened by her great-great-grandfather in 1889, Ms. Gray is used to brokering transactions of affection through bouquets. But the pandemic, she said, has intensified the process.
“Sending flowers has always had meaning, but now it’s more serious,” Ms. Gray said. “The messages used to be short — ‘happy birthday, love so and so.’ Now people are writing paragraphs, and they’re much more specific.”
Outside a pandemic, friends and loved ones might have congregated at a bar or restaurant to celebrate special occasions. Alas, in lieu of saying it in person, we’re all saying it with flowers.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Society of American Florists, over 80 percent of respondents reported an increase in holiday sales compared with 2019. The industry’s success at the retail level has revealed our zealous, if not slightly despairing, need to nurture relationships from a distance.
One of Ms. Gray’s customers lives in Hawaii. Currently unable to return to New York, she has Ms. Gray deliver flowers to her parents’ graves at St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst.
Emily Scott, who owns Floriconvento Flowers in Harlem, noted that having flowers to glance at can inspire much-needed breakthroughs in morale. “Even if it’s just switching out the water in a vase, that can be good for mental health,” she said. “People are sending flowers as a way of cheering people up.”