Choices, Christmas 2021, Family, friends, gratitude, Hands free, Retreat, self-care, time

Hands Free.

Situation:

This morning the sleet was striking hard and the birds in hiding when, all cozy in my flannel pj’s, my digestive biscuit fell into the fresh cup of tea with a little ‘plop.’ It was a sign of today’s downslide mood: the book I am reading is too long, the tree is losing needles faster than I can vacuum, church was out of the question to stay clear of crowds and the new virus variant. ADaneKnits orders are done. The closets are cleaned of old coats, hats and mittens on their way to people who need them more. A mountain of cookies are bagged. Wrapping: check. Our long-anticipated Christmas Eve gathering was cancelled. Do you see where this is going?

My hands are too free; all wound up for my favorite holiday and grounded. This does not feel right.

It is right, on many levels, of course: hard decisions had to be made — retract and stay well (or meet outside ’round the solo stove) — so we could gather together the 24th with family, healthy for the holiday. But all this time alone is a dangerous slope for this type-A.

I want to spread joy, eggnog, body hugs SO MUCH. I want to see you. Instead, I watch Single All The Way on Netflix not once, but twice.

Yesterday it occurred to me that while I intended to be on holiday from writing, I could set the twinkle lights on ‘blink’ mode, clear my desk of wrapping paper, and sink into some more words. Unheard of in Christmas seasons past.

Isn’t time what I long for when ordinarily the season is a race to the finish?

I look at my hands that never stop and remind them that rest is good for all of me. No need to do anything but settle into the moment, be grateful for free. So this Sunday before Christmas, instead of bells and hymns, brunch and mimosas, crowding into shops, I will take a long walk. Later, I might even string lights around all the beds and take a long bath.

Because, you know, nothing but time is ok.

Thanks for reading, grateful for you, stay well.

Merry Christmas.

A.

Yes, this cup.

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friends, Sleepless

Words.

New to me, in the last twelve months; I wake up at all hours of the night, read randomly, worry about the health of my friends and family, walk around, do a down dog, look at the moon and night sky, read some more. I gave in yesterday and made tea at 3:45am with a couple of Digestive biscuits. There are millions of words are out there to distract me, spinning in the pandemic stratosphere; blogs, essays, op-eds, chapters; emails, texts, tweets; letters, Facebook, Instagram. We all have our own late-night covid rabbit holes. I, for one, am on social media way too much. But then, how else would I have seen the unexpected, random, late-night messages sent from people I knew forty-plus years ago?

“Thought of you today when I was going through old photos. Tell me about your life.”

“Where are you?”

“I regret we did not stay in touch.”

I am impressed — this takes courage, to send out a touch across time and space. Extra courage to not come off as a creep. Who hasn’t been thinking about life, the past, friends we miss, maybe have not seen in forever? Pre-pandemic I might have ignored or blocked a name that I barely remembered. Now, in lockdown, the acute sensory/tactile/visual deprivation has made this moment a wrinkle in time. I write back. I stare at my screen and think Hey there, I am thirty, forty, fifty years older and you remember me? Wow.

This is a covid-driven crash course in memory and communication. I have no reference to their spouses, children, parents, grey hair. Look, I say aloud to my laptop in surprise, what a brilliant human this guy has become! Hey, an inbox message reads the next day, I read all your blogs! One nemesis from grade school and I shared recipes across continents. One once-unapproachable shared his writing and we bantered editing and politics. One kindly reminded me what I laughed like in ninth grade. Oh help, I wore WHAT?

And then, the ultimate late-night exercise: can you summarize your life in a text? The Haiku of my life took some thought:

Mom, bicoastal, writer, knitter, consumes too much espresso, cancer happened, no longer blonde, wants puppy.

And even better, I don’t have to worry about what I look like when we meet up again; I am most often in my pajamas.

I have so many people to look forward to when we are all vaccinated. Though perhaps my new-old friends and I will not end up connecting-the-dots of our lives and calendars in person. Just maybe, the purpose was only to reach across the vastness of the dark, panicked universe to remind each other we are alive, and human, and good.

Thank you.

(Not in PJ’s)

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