We have had some beautiful days, this week, with warmth and blue skies and delicious breezes. It allowed Marc and me to have an idyllic weekend, much of which was spent outside just soaking it all in. I indulged in some fantasizing that we could somehow keep the cold weather at bay; that the holidays weren’t almost upon us. The fantasizing was nice; however, I finally had to set my childish dreams aside and start figuring out how to make our holidays this year meaningful. What can I do to blunt the sadness of not being with family and friends? What can I do to find my happy even in these dark times?
I always start with the healthy part because that gives me comfort; knowing that I can be careful and still enjoy a bit of the indulgences. I’ll continue to exercise five days a week, and walk Gracie whenever the weather permits. There is happiness in that; having a dearly beloved friend at my side. I especially enjoy walking on Thanksgiving itself. It gives us a chance to get away from the heaviness of all those aromas and experience the last of that beautiful array of colors gilding the trees.
Our church has ordered ten pies for City Gospel Mission and I will be taking those over the Monday before Thanksgiving. That will give me a smile, knowing that we’re spreading those smiles to folks who most need them. It gives us a reminder, as well, of the many blessings in our lives, even in this COVID-soaked world. Giving to others, and giving thanks will fill me.
I am also starting a four-week class next week. We will be studying the book “Love is the Way,” by Bishop Michael Curry, who is the presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. The subtitle of the book is “Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times.” I think that’s fairly appropriate for studying now, don’t you? Perhaps you will want to add this to your own reading list. I look forward to these discussions, to getting different points of view and hearing other people’s stories as they reflect on his perspectives. I can only be the richer for it, I’m sure.
I will light a candle on Thanksgiving and on Christmas to remember those no longer with us. I haven’t done this before, but it feels right to me. I will remember people I have loved and lost, and I will say a prayer for all those souls—God, how many?—whom we have lost to COVID. I will say a prayer for their families, and hold them in my heart.
I am going to think about that first Thanksgiving four hundred years ago. My family line stretches back to the Mayflower so I feel a connection. If we face a dark winter ahead, how much more did they? So many died that first year, and suffered. They had no idea what they were facing, but they found a way to express gratitude to God and to their Wampanoag friends for teaching them how to plant and harvest. Thanksgiving will be a little bit less about the football and the food and a little bit more about how and why these traditions started.
I will still make a kazillion Christmas cookies. Well, perhaps half a kazillion. I want to send some to Peter and Rose in Cambridge, England; I want to send some to Paul and Lisa in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. I want to give a supply to Luke to celebrate his Winter break from school. It will give them all a sense of our presence and our love, even when we can’t physically be with them. The cookies will no doubt be stale when they arrive, but they will be baked with love. The love is more important than the stale.
We will no doubt talk with our sons on the holidays, perhaps over Google Hangouts. Perhaps we will play a game. Paul discovered “Ticket to Ride,” available on Steam’s platform. It’s old-fashioned and very basic and fun. I am as terrible at it as I am at most games, but enjoy that we’re not just talking about what’s going on in our lives but building new memories as we tease each other and strategize.
I am being a bit easier on myself. My brief contemplations on making croissants from scratch fell aside. I chose a Vegetarian main dish for Luke that is as much about being pretty easy as it is about taste. We don’t need a gourmet feast and I don’t need to kill myself trying to make one. Simple is fine. Store-bought rolls are fine as well. Finding ways to relax is becoming important to me. I am trying to meditate. I am also trying to not obsess over the news. Keep up to date, understand what’s going on, then turn it off and turn on some music. Seep myself in the calm and the lovely.
It is a challenge to appreciate where we are now; to find moments of peace and joy. I think, though, that the holidays, underneath all the glitz and the hype, are rich indeed in the quiet moments we can find and hold. I hope you can find that beauty in these weeks ahead.