Archives for posts with tag: holiday at home

I “slept in” – for some values of that expression – and woke to a rainy rather mild winter morning. I made a point to go to the store one last time, yesterday, hoping to enjoy the entire holiday weekend at home without venturing into retail spaces at all. I made this excellent coffee which I continue to sip on, now. There is holiday music playing in the background, with a warm, cozy holiday café scene as a backdrop on my monitor. No children live in our home – I’ve still got NORAD’s “Santa Tracker” up, where I can see that famous fat man in red flying around the globe in a sleigh pulled by reindeer (somehow, it still “makes sense” to me that this is even a thing! lol). Giftmas at home.

So merry

…Giftmas. At home. So many moments lead to this one, now, and I feel content, merry, and wrapped in love. My Traveling Partner woke around the time I did. It’s a lovely morning. So far, every detail of the holiday is just delightful, and seems lavish and rich in keeping with childhood expectations of the season, without actually being costly, or built on unaffordable excess. It’s just… pleasant. We took a modest approach to the holidays this year to focus more on longer-term goals. You know that pandemic thing? Yeah, that’s still going on, too – so the thing we’d likely both like most to do more of, which would be socializing in various settings, maybe having a holiday dinner or a party, these are all things that are pretty much not on the menu for us. We’re still masking any time we go out (or answer the door), and practicing fairly strict social distancing – we’re definitely not ready to invite a mob of friends over to party. Not yet. Hell, we haven’t even had a housewarming party yet, or had my partner’s brother over (who lives rather close, a couple towns up the road).

…As content as I am to spend time alone, or with only my partner for company, I am also “feeling the pandemic” as it wears on, month after month. Funny how much life we’ve lived in spite of that, and how much we’ve gotten done. lol I miss friends, though. I take a minute imagining how much harder it may be on my partner, who is much more social. He’s pretty much stuck with “just me” for company day-to-day. I doubt that he finds that boring – but it probably gets super annoying, sometimes. Maybe lonely, too.

Holidays aren’t always so easy as this one. I feel fortunate, and grateful. I think about other Giftmases, some long past, some even quite horrible, others so magical as to become defining moments in how I celebrate the season, even to this day.

When I was a kid, I didn’t really “get” how much actual work my parents both put into making Christmases magical for us. I mean it was pretty hardcore stuff that I only learned later; late nights into the wee hours assembling various “some assembly required” items – like my first bicycle, one year. Mornings no doubt came far too early for them, with eager kids waking nearer to 5 a.m. than to sunrise. When we were little, even the tree itself was part of the magic; it sat in a bucket of water for a handful of days, on the porch, and I truly believed then that it was part of Santa’s work to put up the tree, and decorate it – because for a couple years (at least) that’s how it all went down; no tree when we went to bed, and a world transformed on Christmas morning. Wow. The wonder still saturates my memories. That is some difficult shit to live up to! LOL It’s no wonder my Mom’s first thought on Christmas morning was coffee.

One year, Santa deviated from his usual routine. I must have been around… 9? (Sisters at 6 and at 3 years then.) I woke early on Christmas morning – super early – and there was… something heavy on my legs. I quietly turned on my light and discovered my Christmas stocking was there, at the foot of my bed! OMG OMG! Santa had come!! I went to my parent’s bedroom and tried to wake my Dad and tell him… he woke only enough, and only long enough, to tell me to “go back to bed for a little while” and that I could open my stocking quietly, and enjoy that. “Santa must have known your Mom and I want to sleep in a bit.” (“Sleep in” my ass; they’d probably just barely dropped off to sleep at that point! LOL) So, I did go back to my bed, and crawled back into the warm blankets. I started joyfully exploring the sweets and toys in my stocking as quietly as I could; it was stuffed almost to bursting. My sister woke minutes later, and came into my room (seeing the light under the door, probably) and excitedly told me about their stockings, on their beds, too. I passed on the encouragement to enjoy those, in bed. I think we were all still happily playing, nibbling chocolates, and enjoying our quiet holiday when my parents woke later (still properly early, but closer to something like 7 a.m.). It was splendid! It happened that way every year after. For me, it made stockings singularly important to the holiday in a whole new way.

Thanks for the magic, Mom & Dad. I haven’t forgotten.

Santa’s flying over Pakistan, apparently. This cup of coffee is almost gone. The rain continues to fall. Merry Giftmas. Here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays, however you choose to celebrate.

I’m sipping my second coffee on a proper day off. I highly recommend taking the occasional actual day off from work (and yes, even from non-work routines). Real down time. Don’t check that email. Don’t answer those calls. Don’t participate in “just one meeting”. Be available for you, once in a while.

…There are very few things that feel reliably more luxurious, satisfying, and nurturing than having my own undivided attention for a few hours, a day, or a weekend… Just saying. Totally worth doing, even during a pandemic. Even if social distancing. Even staying right here at home. I like the woman in the mirror, rather a lot these days, and I enjoy her company greatly. (If you don’t feel well-disposed toward that human being you face in your mirror each day, well… it’s a great place to begin again, on better terms!)

It is a lovely autumn morning, well-suited to all sorts of things I might like to do with my time.

Autumn is already more than just hints of color, or occasional leaves found on the deck.

It is a chilly morning. Yesterday, there was even ice on the windshield of my car, well past sunrise. I enjoyed my morning coffee with my Traveling Partner. I took time to soak in the hot tub, watching the morning sunshine warm the dewy rooftops, steamy vapor rising into the air. I listened to the birds in the neighbor’s pear tree arguing over the not-yet-ripe pears, hoping they’d leave a few unmarred by pecking, but not particularly concerned about it. My mind wandered briefly to chores and housekeeping, and weekend meals, and I made some “mental notes” (promptly forgotten) about things I could add to my list. No pressure.

Today is definitely about “no pressure”, and that feels good.

The holiday season crossed my mind. Gifts to think about. Meals to consider. Guests to invite. No guests; there’s a pandemic going on. No, seriously – and it is serious – we’re okay here at home, and fortunate to enjoy each other in close quarters over a long period of time. (I sometimes suspect our military experience gives us an advantage; we “work as a unit”, even when we are aggravated with each other.) I know there are people who are frustrated with the constraints placed upon them by pandemic life. I get it. I just think it’s worth making the effort to be generally safe, generally respectful of the wellness of others, and generally fully compliant with the requirement to practice social distancing, to wear a mask, to avoid crowds. Yes, even close family crowds at important family events; those people will go home (and so will you), having shared whatever they’ve been exposed to, and to share what they were exposed to at the event. It’s not an acceptable risk, from my perspective. We see it play out in the news every week; a big gathering, a spike in new cases of COVID-19. It honestly just seems like an easy choice to me… so, since March, my partner and I stay home, except for a handful of difficult to avoid errands. It complicated house hunting. It complicated the closing. It complicated the move.

…Both of us remain well. Worth the complications.

We relaxed enough to allow my partner’s son (my step-son) to visit after we finished moving in. I regretted that more than a little bit, as much I enjoyed seeing him, particularly after he admitted to attending gatherings of friends, more recently than two weeks prior to traveling to see us… and… he did have to travel. He was here less than two weeks. Yes, it caused me stress to consider that with greater care – too late to change the planning. I am unlikely to make another exception as we head into flu season. I’d rather not even get the flu, or a head cold, and social distancing and mask wearing has definitely reduced my exposure to those risks! Win.

…But… Thanksgiving…!?! Giftmas??

Yeah. Thanksgiving. Giftmas, too. Fuck your Thanksgiving feast and holiday parties if they send half your family home to far away places with new exposure to COVID-19, and with increased potential of losing loved ones to it. I mean, seriously? Weddings too. Baby showers. Parties of all kinds. Music festivals. Worship. Celebrations. All of it. Fuck every minute of every “important life event” any one of us chooses to attend that results in the loss of someone else’s life. What right do we have, as individuals, to be callous with someone else’s risk of death?

So. Holidays will be simple this year, here at home. Cards. Letters. Calls. Merriment. A comfy holiday at home – intimate, joyful, and low-stress. Healthy, too, maybe…? (I am one of those folks who nearly always has a head cold, or is “just getting over” – or just catching – the flu, right around Thanksgiving or Giftmas – maybe not this year?)

I sip my coffee and smile. We’ve already figured out where the Giftmas tree will go… and there’s so much room for it… 🙂 Right now, that’s enough. I look at the time. The lovely day stretches out ahead of me. It looks like a good one to take a walk on an untraveled trail… or simply to begin again. 🙂

Sleeping in was nice this morning. Sipping my coffee, sitting in the open doorway to the deck on a rainy Friday morning felt luxurious. Today is mine. For me. I’ve got a long weekend.

A perspective on an autumn morning from an open doorway.

I can’t help but think about the many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of retail workers who will not get this long weekend with their families, or to get some downtime for themselves, or the opportunity so many of us get to do our own thing for a few days after a holiday purportedly about gratitude. They are indentured servants to American Greed. Their employers force them back onto the clock (or they risk losing their jobs) in order to staff shops that Americans visit with a frenzy – a fury – that puts Greed on display for all the world to see. It is a purely American phenomenon as far as I am aware. I find it, personally, rather grotesque. I don’t participate. I don’t shop. I stay home, or go hiking. I stay out of retail spaces, and I stay off the city streets. It’s scary dangerous out there; shoppers have finished with all that “being grateful” stuff, and now it is open warfare to secure the goods for their family holiday (or, let’s be honest, themselves). No thank you.

I can’t hold it against people who are among the poor or working poor that they pull hard-earned limited funds together to do their holiday shopping on this one day of the year; retailers exploit that honest vulnerable yearning to give their families a little something more, to have something nice, to improve their quality of life. It sickens me to see people who can afford to quite properly shop on just any day, and comfortably afford sufficient holiday luxuries for their loved ones and safely avoid this horrible festival of exploitation and greed, getting out there rampaging through shops and malls showing off the worst of who they can be in order to save money they could have afforded to spend. Most particularly I object to this spectacle because it is the participation, in the first place, that makes it a thing at all.  I find it uncomfortable that it falls on the day after Thanksgiving. Seriously? For fuck’s sake, the timing could not put our greed on higher contrast if we’d carefully selected the timing for that very purpose. It tends to call our gratitude into question.

So… I just don’t.

I’m not walking your mile, and I can’t point fingers or judge you as an individual for shopping on Black Friday. I just also feel sad that the very existence of Black Friday as a thing means that retail workers, specifically, some of the least adequately paid workers in America, get completely fucked out of enjoying a long holiday weekend with their families that many of us get to take for granted – and also don’t get to shop. It’s like an extra helping of “fuck you” for those workers. (How can I not show solidarity, myself, when this is my awareness, and my perspective?) Since I can’t actually change it, and I do actually object, I therefore do not participate, that’s all. 🙂

I guess I’m just saying – if this is a “holiday”, it’s celebrating something pretty horrible, and just maybe we should take another look at what we’re celebrating.

…a short stack of books…an entire day off…

I make another coffee. I consider the day ahead, here at home. It’s a nice one for a hike, mild and only somewhat drizzly. I could stay in and paint without interruption, or relax and read one of the books in the wee stack that has built up since last year, that I continue to promise myself I’ll get around to. I could commit to mindful service to hearth and home, break out that “to do list” and get to work on it. It is a day suitable for beginning again. 🙂