Decorating from the Chair

I wasn’t really sure how it would work to put up my Christmas decorations this year, working from the chair and in a new place – and not remembering what things I actually brought with me in the first place. Many of my decorations were given away before I moved but I didn’t remember which ones went, which stayed – or really, which ones I had in the first place. I’ve always been surprised in opening my boxes at what was inside and this year was no different.

The decoration boxes were stowed away in the storage closet back in August when I could actually stand up and move them around myself; that’s not possible now, so it was a bit of a challenge to get them out. But with a few exceptions, I did get most of the boxes down and out of the closet, though putting things where I wanted them wasn’t quite as easy. I did manage to get my new cute gnome wreath on the door, and the shorty nutcracker out in the hallway outside my door, and the cats’ stockings, nativity, and all the elves. I have LOTS of elves, and in fact gave away my really big one to help decorate our common space downstairs.

My aide helped me with two boxes and moved around things that needed to be taller than I could place them, such as the metal gnome with a little planter; the cats tried to eat the fake greenery when it was closer to their level so it had to go high. We put out the Christmas pillows and the vintage Christmas card box I made for my parents 45 years ago and still love. Today we put up my metal tree in my bedroom and decorated a table top tree that runs the risk of cats batting around the Shiny Brite ornaments. Jamie had to do all of the work of setting up the wrought iron tree and placing ornaments while I unwrapped them and remembered their history – this one came from Harrods, this squirrel is from Boston to remind me of squirrels in the Public Garden, the flamingo represents Emerald Bay, the swan from my days going to the UVA Christmas concert and singing in the “seven swans” section for 12 days of Christmas. Most had a story; all had a memory.

Small things that decorate my space and remind me of places and people past. It’s not the same as last year, but it looks like home.

What I’m Thankful For Today

This year has given me many challenges and changes, but there is so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day 2021:

  • For God’s love, protection, and guiding hand through changes big and small.
  • For my health and improving strength.
  • For the ability to walk and live independently.
  • For the love and support of family and friends both near and far.
  • For financial stability and excellent medical insurance.
  • For my new home and its accessibility.
  • For my beautiful floofy kitties.
  • For the Internet and the connections it gives me to the world outside.
  • For the skill of my doctors, nurses, and therapists.
  • For words that help me make sense of it all.

I’m alone this Thanksgiving Day but that’s okay: my family and friends are just a phone call away. Today isn’t just about eating and being together. It’s about giving thanks always and everywhere. Happy Thanksgiving to you, no matter how you spend your day.

A 2020 Thanksgiving

I cancelled Thanksgiving plans with my brother and sister-in-law and will spend the day home alone (well, with the cats, but no people). They probably think I’m over-reacting but I’m just being cautious in this weird 2020 world of Covid. The news is full of stories about hospitals being overwhelmed by patients, with warnings from medical experts about the dangers of gathering in small groups indoors this year. Which most holiday gatherings are because it’s almost December and it’s too cold even in Texas to hang out outside for turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and pie.

Far, far too many people are ignoring that advice to cancel Thanksgiving. It’s hard to undo tradition and the familiar habits of generations and we all miss our loved ones. But I’m afraid of seeing the hospitalizations and deaths increase through the roof after this. I have pre-existing conditions that make me vulnerable to Covid, so I don’t want to get it myself, but I really really don’t want to give it to someone else. Most people I know who had or have it warn us to NOT get it. So why are so many people walking around doing exactly what they want?

Some are because they’re tired of people telling them what to do. Covid fatigue is a long haul, especially in these days of 24/7 non-stop media and social media coverage of the pandemic. They’re tired of being told to wear a mask and that stores were closing and that they can’t travel to foreign countries because we’re banned from entry. They don’t want government pushing itself on them, not that I’ve actually noticed much of that happening from the feds, anyway.

A scary number don’t believe that Covid is real or can kill people, or at minimum will make a lot of people very sick in ways we won’t really understand for a long time. Some feel that they’ve lived their lives and if God takes them, it’s okay with them. It doesn’t seem that anyone NOT wearing a mask cares if they infect someone else; it’s just all about doing what they want.

If we all wore masks, kept our social distance, and stayed away from other people until there was a vaccine available and distributed, our lives would be different. I actually had a foreboding last winter that this wouldn’t go away quickly. But people aren’t going to pay attention to that. They will just show their independence, individuality, stubborness, and selfishness to do what they want. Which is why 50 million people are traveling for Thanksgiving. I expect the infection and death rates to soar by Christmas.

Me? I’m staying home with the cats. I’ll swap fall decorations for Christmas, eat pork roast instead of turkey, and watch Hallmark movies. I have a 4-day weekend when I don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. Avoiding people on this big family and food holiday is how I’m spending this weird 2020 Thanksgiving. I suspect Christmas will be the same.

That said, I am thankful for my family and their understanding of my need to do this. For my beautiful ginger girls who bring joy and companionship every day. For my friends here and spread across the country, both ones I know in person and ones I met online and who have become close friends. For the strength and focus that allowed me to take weight off in a way that is healthy and sustainable. For a job that lets me serve, sometimes be creative, and learn new skills. For my health and for good doctors. For my home, cozy and now personal after last year’s renovation. For my life.

Thank you, God, for loving me and keeping me safe. Protect those I love and help us to make wise decisions in these extraordinary times.

Thanksgiving transition

This is my first Thanksgiving without my father, without either parent. I’m living in their house which doesn’t feel like my own on a holiday spent in this place for over 30 years. It’s a kind of limbo time. I’m alone – by choice – today, staying quiet after being sick most of the week, and taking down fall decorations to put up Christmas ones. No turkey or stuffing, no pie, no green bean casserole, no family gathered around the table. I missed them for about 30 minutes but I’ve spent other holidays on my own before. It’s just that this is the first one in this house. It makes a difference. I miss my daddy and am grateful to have my beautiful kitty girls for company.

Valentine’s Day 2010

Today the world (okay, maybe just the U.S.) celebrates romantic love, the color red, chocolate, and presents.  Even though it feels like a Hallmark Holiday, it’s actually a very old celebration dating to Roman times (when St. Valentine was beheaded on Feb. 14 for secretly marrying couples against the emperor’s ban on marriages).

For the last month, escalating last week, we’ve been bombarded by ads from jewelry store and florists, Hallmark and candy companies.  Stores are packed with stuffed animals holding little red “I Love You” hearts, bags of Hershey’s kisses and heart-shaped boxes full of chocolates, pink or red sappy sweet cards, and red roses.   I noticed yesterday, though,  that those are moving to the Clearance section to make room for sparkly green St. Patrick’s Day stuff.

But many of us would rather skip this day.  I’m not presuming that all single people don’t like it, but I don’t, and I know plenty of others for whom the celebration is more proforma than real.  The love of my life is a cat and she cares for crunchies, catnip, and mommy.  No cards, no chocolate, no red.  I’m happy staying home quietly with her and not being out and about having Valentine’s Day slammed in my face.  And no, I’m not a crazy cat lady.  I’m a middle-aged single woman with a cat; big difference.

If you are lucky enough to have a love of your life who isn’t four-footed and furry, may this be a happy day full of shared love with or without the flowers, candy, jewelry, or red presents.  If not, love yourself enough to celebrate anyway, doing something you enjoy and makes you feel as special as you are.