COVID 19 holidays Memoirs

Post-Christmas Post

When I was younger I used to hate the week after Christmas. It was so. . .blah. After the anticipation of Christmas Day, the beauty of holiday decorations, the visits to and from extended family, the fun of school parties, the excitement of opening gifts–well, the week after was a huge letdown.

Me on Christmas morning with a new record album
and my baby sister all smiles.

Not that I wasn’t grateful for the new things, and I did enjoy them, but knowing that the decorations would soon be coming down and school would soon be resuming made the week kind of a downer.

That was then. Now that I’m all grown up with grown kids I see things a little differently. I don’t take all the decorations down right away. I used to follow my mother’s lead and keep everything up until New Year’s Day, but now it seems that the season goes so fast, I have been leaving everything up until my birthday on January 6, which is Epiphany, the day the wise men supposedly visited the baby Jesus. This year, amid the challenges of the coronavirus and details of moving my husband into a memory care facility, I may leave everything up until mid-January or even later.

My back is to the camera while my brother Allen and sisters Brenda and Sharon look toward the camera. Faces of joy.

Caring for him and juggling visits with loved ones has left me little time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday season. It was a strange one in that I did not work like crazy wrapping gifts at the shop where I’ve worked every Christmas for seven years. This year I did all my wrapping with materials I already had, and I wrapped what I had ordered online or bought at the dollar store. I haven’t set foot in a large store for months, it seems.

So I will use this post-Christmas downtime as a time to reflect on the season. I will wait for the rest of the gifts still under my tree to be given out. Covid-19 has kept my grandchildren away but I’m hoping to see them very soon. Our Christmas may be delayed a bit, but it will be every bit as special seeing it through their eyes.

As 2020 rolls into 2021 (good riddance, right?), I will ponder making new year’s resolutions and may even write some so that I can break them later. My wish for you is a happier, healthier, more peaceful new year. You deserve it. We all deserve it.


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“Have a Holly Jolly Christmas. . .”

from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” 1960’s

“It’s the best time of the year. I don’t know if there’ll be snow, but have a cup of cheer. . .” And so the song goes, courtesy of the late great Burl Ives. Remember the snowman on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated special? I was seven years old when I saw it for the first time. It was magical. Now I can’t even get my grandkids interested. The old claymation specials have nothing on today’s computer graphics animation. Ah, but they were magical, at least to my generation.

I got distracted. Sorry about that. I have decided to have a holly jolly Christmas at my house. I don’t care if a pandemic is raging, threatening my family and friends, threatening retailers and restauranteurs, threatening the traditions we all hold dear. Maybe the pandemic is a good thing.

Our Living Room Christmas Tree

What? What did you say? I said, maybe it’s a good thing. It’s changing our priorities. We are focusing more on loved ones, and not things. We are finding out that the most valuable things in life are not things at all. The things we miss are not things, either. Hugging a friend or relative, shaking hands, whispering in someone’s ear, getting close enough to detect a special cologne, gathering in groups at holiday parties, sharing a toast, kids sitting on Santa’s lap, being able to breathe without fogging up your glasses, last-minute shopping in a crowded store. Need I go on?

We have given up much this year because of Covid-19. But look at what we’ve gained: a new appreciation of freedom, gathering with friends, going shopping and dining wherever we want, gathering with family at holidays and special occasions, going to church and fellowship with fellow churchgoers. Boy, do I miss that.

My precious granddaughters enjoying the season.

I’m going to make it a holly jolly Christmas, though. I’m going to:

  1. Enjoy small things like the lights on my beautiful tree.
  2. Behold the wonder in my granddaughters’ eyes as they look at all the decorations.
  3. Experience the delight in the two-year-old’s smile as she touches an LED C9 bulb and finds out that it’s cool to the touch.
  4. Note the pride in the five-year-old’s stance as she finishes decorating the little silver tree for my camper.
  5. Enjoy the taste of pumpkin spice in my morning coffee.
  6. Relish drinking from my special Christmas coffee mugs.
  7. Cozy up to my dog next to me in my chair while wearing comfy pajamas.
  8. Relish a morning when I get to sleep just a little bit later.
  9. Wrap each and every gift with love.
  10. Give thanks for online ordering when I can’t get to a store.
Can you see the silver tree hidden in the tinsel garland? I left it just as she decorated it.

Get the picture? There is a host of ways to make it a holly jolly Christmas. Even as my days are consumed with caregiving and my nights with intermittent sleep between calls from hubby, I choose to focus on the good. Yes, I have days, even weeks, when I wonder how this is all going to turn out–the pandemic, my husband’s disease progression, the next presidential administration, life in general. But I rest in this: my God knows it all, and holds it all, in His almighty hands.

So. . . Merry Christmas. May all your days be holly jolly.


Little “Miss Millie” all dressed up for the holidays.

The Fourth of July Canceled?

I was dismayed to find that many of the fireworks displays in my area had been canceled due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.  Not that I would attend the big ones in the towns around here, but I at least would have had that option.  I realize that our nation’s birthday happens with or without fireworks, but it just doesn’t seem the same without them.

I had settled down with hubby in front of the TV to watch Macy’s Fourth of July celebration when I heard a big boom outside.  We have some neighbors who have been known to shoot off fireworks during holidays, but the trees usually cover them up.  Still, I had to investigate.  I sprang from my chair with Stella the Boston terrier on my heels.  We had to see what was going on.

To my utter surprise and delight, my next door neighbors were shooting off those big fireworks like the cities do!  I texted my mother who lives next door on the other side and she picked me up in my dad’s golf cart so we could drive across the road to watch the fireworks.

It wasn’t a big public event and there weren’t scores of people sitting on blankets or tailgating, but there were fireworks and we got to see them.  What could be better than having big fireworks at your next door neighbors?  I didn’t even have to bring a covered dish or dessert.

So, thank you, Turner family, for rescuing Independence Day for our quiet country neighborhood.  I’m sticking my tongue out at you, COVID 19.  You tried but you didn’t stop it.  

Maybe 2021 will be different, but I wouldn’t give anything for the lessons 2020 has taught me thus far.  That sounds like good material for another blog post.

I hope you had a safe and happy Fourth of July without a visit from the unwelcome coronavirus.  Here’s to the Red, White, and Blue!




I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions Any More

Yep, you read that right. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions because I break them, so it’s a waste of time.  I used to write down five to ten resolutions on fresh new journal paper, and by the end of the month, I had broken most if not all of them.  Resolutions, after all, are supposed to begin with the words, “Be it resolved. . .”  Pretty serious words, right?

However, being a new year and all, I feel like I need to make some effort to make some positive changes.  So. . .I’ve made a list I’ll call my New Year’s Efforts.  And here they are:

1.  Attend church more regularly.

2.  Eat more healthfully in smaller amounts and less often.

3.  Move more.

4.  Spend less.

5.  Write more.

6.  Love more.

7. Complain less.

8.  Be content with what I have.

9.  Make do whenever possible.

10.  Practice gratitude more.

There you have it–my New Year’s Efforts.  What about you?  How is your 2020 going?  




9 Easy Ways to Enjoy a Black Christmas

First of all, let me clarify.  “Black” is referring to being on the good side of your bank account, “in the black,” as opposed to being in the red, overdrawn, or in debt.  How does one stay in the “black” during the season of overspending?  Gift-giving doesn’t have to mean going into debt or draining your savings.  Gift-giving is supposed to come from the heart, anyway, not Amazon.  So how do you do it?  I can tell you how I do it.

1. Set a spending limit per person or per gift, whether it’s $5 or $500.  Don’t allow yourself to go over that. 

2.  Set a gift limit for kids and grandkids.  For our kids, hubby and I limited their number of gifts to three, like the gifts from the three wise men to the baby Jesus.  If one was a big ticket item, we added two smaller items.  We also filled a stocking for each of them, and everything fit inside (most of the time).  We are limiting ourselves to two gifts per grandchild, usually pajamas and a toy.  They have so much already I think their parents appreciate limits.


3.  Stop buying for friends, coworkers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, business owners, etc.  If you must give them gifts, bake cookies or give them gift cards and candy.  You have to set a limit on gift card amounts, though.  One gift I like to give is a unique coffee mug filled with candy or Christmas trash.  

4.  Make your gift decisions and stick to them.  I’m the world’s worst about choosing something and then second-guessing myself about whether they will like the gift, it’s appropriate, they already have it, etc.  Just make your choice and let that be it.  If they already have something like it, it’s up to them whether or not to keep it or toss it or even re-gift it. That is out of your control.  Isn’t it the thought that counts anyway?

5.  Don’t underestimate thrift stores and garage sales.  Where is it written that a gift has to be new to be valuable?  My sister has a knack for finding wonderful gifts at thrift stores that make mine look paltry in comparison.  There I go again. . .

6.  Stop comparing your gifts to others.  For my grandson’s first birthday, we gave him a toy and some clothes, I believe.  His other grandparents gave him company stock.  I’m happy they have those kinds of resources and can give him a good financial start.  We don’t and can’t, and comparing is pointless.  Our grandson knows we love him.

7.  If you can’t afford the fancy clothes or giving parties, don’t do it.  Thrift stores are great resources for clothes; so is borrowing from a friend.  Let those with more resources than you give the parties.  You can bring a special treat in your borrowed or thrifted outfit.


8.  Stop trying to impress.  That isn’t what Christmas is about.  Do what you can do and let it be enough.   Focus on the meaning.

9.  Give people the gift of you.  How you make them feel when they are with you is what they remember, not some fancy store-bought present you couldn’t really afford.

Let’s see if you can make this holiday a “black” Christmas!  I’d love to hear your ideas.