It’s a happy life…

My kitchen table at New Year’s.

Here we sit uon a New Year, with prospects for it to go better than the last, and for once I rang in the new with no celebration other than binge watching a show with my love, toasting with wine and whiskey at midnight and sharing a lovely kiss. No watching the throngs of people mashed into Time’s Square in New York, where I always wonder why they want to be there in the cold, and no party this year, not with even another couple, let alone thirty of my friends.

Because I want to help out my daughter who just had a sweet baby who has days and nights mixed up, all I need to do is show up Covid-free, so we’re being careful, and hold the baby for a while. Graveyard shift, but I will gladly take it. In fact, I revel in telling of my last baby, born at the end of November, and his days and nights were mixed also, and I had to run around with my two older kids besides. When my husband and I wandered over to the neighborhood party on New Year’s Eve, the ladies swooned over my one month old. I just swooned from lack of sleep.

The best view of the creek that has ice on it this year.

I tried to make coherent conversation, but then it struck me. If my friends were sober, they could hold my son for a few hours, and I had brought bottles, so I asked if they would like to hold onto him, and his daddy toted the little guy home much later. I went home well before midnight to…sleep. New Year’s Eve parties do come in handy at times, but tonight the world seems muted, waiting, guarded, yet gathered around the table again. We’re in a state of anticipation and becalmed excitement. And yes, more waiting.

Are you talking more and connecting? I know we played games on our Christmas Day, which we celebrated on Christmas Ever day, because my nurse daughter worked on Christmas Day. The day felt authentic, even though we forgot to read Luke Chapter 2 the way my father always did before opening gifts. I think having an excited toddler, with his new baby sibling along with all my kids being together, with their husband and fiancé too, made for a noisy, happy day filled with more fun and laughter at the joy of being able to spend this precious time together.

Do you see what I see?

Did you feel that way too? As if your holiday meant more, because of all we need to do to be safe, and we don’t have those casual spur-of-the-moment visits, so we find time together to be a gift. No arguing politics (it’s done!), and no arguing about food because we all brought everything we wanted and noshed all day long. And I think as weary as we all are now, it will be so different next year. Well, this year now, because I think we will appreciate the little things that make our lives happier.

Right? From meeting with friends at Starbucks for three hour long chat sessions, to flying out on a crowded plane to see my mom and dad, or greeting people with a hug, seeing smiles again, visiting the theatre finally, going to sporting events, staying in a hotel or that trip to Scotland (fingers crossed, and please God make it so), to seeing my neighbors and standing to talk to them and none of this cursory, “hi” and “cold today” from twenty feet away. And I appreciated the cookies our neighbors brought over and it is something we all look forward to, but I handed out candles to be “safe” when cookies taste better. I should have done cookies, but with the new baby and all. Ah, well, there’s always this year, right?

A wee dram with my Scottish Highland dreams by the fire.

How are you doing? Are you finding bits of happiness peppered through your week? Do you miss your family? Your routines? The sky still looks the same. I look up and realize the stars and moon have no idea what social distancing is. The owls are silent now, but we do hear the neighbor’s dogs and I like that too. The dogs have no idea anything has changed, except we are all home more. I like that cozy feeling of knowing my neighbors are near, my home is warm and we gather nightly in front of the fire.

No, it is not real, we have that at the cabin, but the gas fire draws us in anyway. We grow almost too warm, and I light the candles I bought from London. The one labeled Winter is excellent, but the Highlands candle is eh, so I’ll gift that away. And we talk. Have you discovered the magic of a zoom call? I love them most of the time. My sister organizes it, I press a button and suddenly I’m looking at my brother’s ceiling, my father’s knee and my sister’s table. They are all yelling that they’ll be right there, and then we sit, talk, tell stories and laugh. We talk about our old cars that my day duct taped together. Well, one, but I could see the road underneath as I drove. Dad told me not to look down then! Laughter!!

Getting little gifts in the mail is a treat!

The talking. The connecting as we laugh about the Kentucky Meat Shower that someone brought up, we googled and it’s a thing! I’m going to miss the zoom calls. And the connections made on social media for me this year have been so fun. My friend who lives in Nevada sent me this gift, above, when I mentioned how I love Vegas and want to go back. Maybe the Luxor is in my future. I smile every time I see that. As I hope you smile when you pass by a trinket given to you in friendship. Or by a love. From a child. We still have that.

I think we will have a good deal more in the new year, and I hope you fill your eyes with the beauty of a sky filled with stars or the soft sound of snow gently falling, muting the sounds, filling us up. We can still use these next months well, before things get back to a new normal. We can read that novel, the good one about the Crawdads. We can talk face to face or on the phone. We can gather people together in our hearts, keep them in our thoughts and always our prayers. We still have some time before the reset button is pushed, so let’s use it for good.

We’re at the cabin, so its toasty warm here.

Use these winter months to be you. Sweatpants, messy hair, enjoying your cup of tea or your warming soup on a chilly day. Read, write, because people will want to know what it was like in the pandemic of 2020/2021. Walk outside. Sing inside. Light the fire, or a candle. Tell someone how beautiful they are, and then go back to playing your guitar, baking those cookies, and laughing at the year that was. We can certainly smile knowing this year is going to be a good year, because of all we have learned.

I’m wishing you a wondrous New Year filled with all the happiness your heart can hold.

Until next time…

Deanna

Resolutely resolutionless…

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Here we are with another year spent and a new one arriving in hours. There are things I want to do; accomplishments awaiting my toil, but I don’t think I’m going to make any resolutions this year. Last year brought a bucketful of trouble sprinkled with a few blessings bestowed. Sometimes getting through the year with your humor intact and new ways to observe this world is enough.

It’s frigid out here, and that’s affecting me too. Just driving to the cold grocery store and laying in a store of provisions feels like a monumental achievement. I’m an indoors girl once it’s below freezing, so our plans for celebrating a new year by staying in the city and running all over town having bunches of fun, didn’t sound like it would be all that wonderful. I cancelled the hotel room and decided it’s cabin time.

 

I said goodbye to my Christmassy home (though these flowers felt like a whiff of January), and we packed sweats and hoodies and thick socks to ring in 2018. Do you take Christmas down the day after? I just can’t. My mom tells me stories about long ago Christmases not beginning until December 24th, with the tree and caroling and Christmas cookies and feasting continuing until Epiphany, on January 6th. I’m trying to keep it going, but our world drags us into the Christmas season by Halloween. So I’m happy to be ensconced at the cabin for a bit with no twinkle lights or nutcrackers. Just a lot of warm blankets. And my winter potpourri.

 

The potpourri sits in the strangest vintage bowl I’ve ever seen. Is it meant only for pretzels? Am I using it incorrectly? I bring out my winter finds; the ones I reserve for the dark days of January. Do you? Doesn’t it feel like a slice of heaven to be home, in a warm corner, with the scent of pine or piñon, book in hand, with maybe a chocolate truffle or three, ready to while away the evening?

 

Cats really have perfected the art of relaxing wherever they are. My Willie makes himself at home in the warmest room, while I linger near the fire. The cabin sat at a firm 55 degrees when we walked in today. It’s toasty warm now though. Just perfect. Quiet.

The quiet season. Hush. Sure, there are parties aplenty with spirits and noise and sequins and kissing at midnight, but this year, after the year we had, we packed up some steaks, potatoes and a cake (hey, it’s always a good time for a cake, and it will be my breakfast tomorrow morning along with my hot coffee). It feels right this year. Just us. And the cats, of course. Piles of magazines at my feet. Contentment. Even though I threw my back out yesterday and then hurt myself sweeping the cabin today. Even then…

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We choose our moods. Kind of. So my back hurts. I’ll be okay in a few days I hope. In the meantime, I wander around the cabin taking some pictures. The beauty of being out here in the middle of nowhere is amazing. My husband is tramping around outside, checking on things. I linger close to the house. I reflect on how I’ve grown this year, as I remember the substantial losses, and the wonderfully magical gains. The quiet is lovely. No Times Square this year. Just a bunch of hills and a smattering of snow.

 

 

What will 2018 bring to our doorstep? How do we move forward and step into the new?

I’m resolutely against resolutions this year. A certain number of times around the sun and I realize maybe January isn’t the best time to begin training for the marathon, or planting a garden. Maybe January calls for quiet. Reverence. Introspection.

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Maybe a bunch of books, thick socks and an iced tea in silence is just what we need. No running away from yourself. No staying so busy you miss out on you. By the way, I drink iced tea in sub-zero temps. Crazy, I know. But back to resolutions. I make mine in September when the kids return to their schools. Right now? I’m just trying to keep myself away from that glorious cake waiting on the counter.

Aren’t we meant to drink soups and eat casseroles now? To huddle together underneath quilts piled high? To read the not classic literature but the kind that holds you mesmerized long into the night?

 

Let’s plunge into January with hopes for a happy year. And a nice, long January thaw.

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Be happy, sweet friend. Welcome 2018 with open hands…