Does anyone remember those old American Express Card commercials in which assorted spokespeople emphatically stated, “membership has its privileges?” There was no doubt that American Express, unlike other credit card companies, was creating the appearance of exclusivity, with “belonging” as the goal to which people should aspire.

Most people feel that belonging to, or being a member of, their family is a privilege. It most certainly is a blessing to be part of a group of people who love and care for you, warts and all. Certainly, some family situations are not idyllic, but for most people, being at home, with family, is the very safest place to be.

That’s certainly proven true over the past nearly three months we’ve been sheltering-in-place, and if nothing else, staying close to home and limiting our outside interactions to those which are, for the most part, necessary.

The physical distancing limitations we’ve all been placed under have certainly been more difficult for some of us than others. I am an extrovert (except when I’m not in the mood to be), and since my local family now consists of two dogs and a roommate, it’s been a big adjustment. Surprisingly, and I’ve mentioned this before, I’ve really become attached to my home. The cooking frenzy that began the middle of March has continued, and I’ve managed to conquer dishes like risotto, paella and soft-cooked eggs that I’ve never had time to make before. I’ve made cakes and pies from scratch, learned to grill salmon to perfection and finally grasped the principles of cooking a steak that rivals those served in five-star restaurants. And to think, even though I’m a very good cook, I was eating sandwiches and chips most every night for dinner. I simply didn’t make the effort. If nothing else, this time of isolation has taught me to be kinder to myself.

I’m a firm believer in the premise that families who break bread together are happier, whether they’re enjoying a casual, or more formal meal, together. In our Coastal Illustrated feature, Cheri Leavy has some tips for great one-dish meals ideal for enjoying around the family table. Carrie Morey of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, in Charleston, S.C., shares her delicious recipes for skillet shrimp and garlic bread. Can’t make it to Charleston? Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits are available at several area retailers, including Golden Isles Olive Oil and Gourmet Pantry, both on St. Simons Island, and at Publix, in Brunswick. Meanwhile, Janet Brown, of The Festive Bird, on St. Simons Island, shows off her jalapeño and chicken-stuffed zucchini. Janet’s specialty dishes, including her famous potpies and perfect-for-summer tomato pies, are available at Uncle Don’s Market, on St. Simons Island.

With summer on our doorstep, we have some perfect ideas for making your home more comfortable in the warm weather months. In the Coastal Home feature, we take a look at summer decorating tips for a wide variety of tastes and styles that will encourage you to spend time at home. We paid visits to Pierce & Parker Interiors and Saltwater, both on St. Simons Island, and also have advice from Lindsey Spearman, of L. Spearman Designs, also on St. Simons Island. And, even though you’re still spending most of your time at home, you’ll want to look nice. Check out Cheri’s Shore Things for great suggestions for items that will keep you in the pink.

Finally, our Q&As give you the opportunity to meet, or become reacquainted with, two fine, community-minded people. In our Local Q&A, we visit with Stan Robinson, husband to Jennifer, and father of four children, and learn about who he admires how he likes to spend Saturdays in the Golden Isles. Our Realtor Q&A drops in on Ann Barnes of Signature Properties, who relates a great story about her son’s pre-COVID-19 nuptials, and gives credit to Dee Wright and Phoebe Hoaster for being her mentors as she began her real estate career. Ann’s most admired person is Brandon Derrick, head football coach at Frederica Academy. Visit our website at www.coastalillustrated.com, to read the rest of her interview.

Our columnists, Anne Ditmer and Cary Knapp, share timely advice and great recommendations, and real estate reporter Gordon Jackson provides an update on the local real estate market.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other, and don’t forget to wash your hands. Enjoy the issue.