Holiday season.

Yesterday, I asked Jeremy if we were going to put up a Christmas tree. It is not my natural inclination to put up a tree – even if we were staying for Christmas, but I was admiring an absolutely beautiful artificial tree at Alice’s house and wanted to buy the same brand (Balsam Hill). The tree we have is from Target or Home Depot for about $100 bought the day before Christmas probably the first Christmas we were in the house – 2008. I could probably look at photos and see it there. That thing, for the past few years, has looked a little bit ragged. We are missing some branches and the needles are forever shedding all around. But we are spending a lot of money these days – so I think the new fake tree will have to wait. I don’t want to put it up because I’m the one to do it every year (even though various (usually young, easily distracted) people enthusiastically start setting it up with me), and I also take it down every year and sometimes I resent it. But there are things, in my old-er age, that have turned from simmering resentment into something of a joy – for example, I do enjoy picking out gifts for people. For years, I got all pissy that I would buy all the gifts for everyone (most notably the gifts for Jeremy’s family and the teacher’s gifts), but recently, I’ve really come to enjoy doing this. Honestly, it wasn’t that Jeremy wouldn’t buy gifts, it’s that he would do it on Dec 22st and hope that Amazon would deliver by Christmas which absolutely would drive me bonkers. And I think, now, that I’m a pretty good gift giver. So now I take my time and I buy gifts (well this year, I started early Nov) for everyone and if Jeremy wants to add something on the 22nd, he’s totally fine doing that. I also cut out asking for Jeremy’s opinion on gifts and waiting for him to weigh in or for him to say – oh, but what about this other thing? – and just buy them, so it feels like I’m in control more. Also, surprisingly I enjoy picking out greeting cards for people. I like the 5 minutes I spend in the store thinking about the person and thinking what kind of card the person would like. It reminds me how much I like and value the person. I don’t do this often, but when I do, I get joy.

I’m trying to be nice to myself this holiday season. Mostly because there are a lot of sad things happening around me. I miss my brother who has, for a reason unknown to me, decided to stop speaking to me about four years ago. I had always thought we had a warm relationship, but I can only conclude that he thinks his life is better without me in it which is a painful conclusion to come to. If he does think that, I hope he is doing well and is happy and I will let him go. Though sometimes it feels like my arm has gone missing and I’m looking for it, not remembering where I had left it or how it got cut off. Mostly it feels like a part of my heart is forever wounded and I’m patching it up with needle and thread and a band aid and hope that it keeps going and that maybe he will come back to me someday. However hard it is for me, I know it’s harder for my parents. And, of course, these painful things are always harder around the holidays.

Thanksgiving.

We had a wonderful thanksgiving. We had 13, down from our usual 40-50ish and it was lively. I’m not sure that we would have reached the 40 in attendance this year even without the pandemic because of other family health issues. I insisted to Jeremy that we should buy two turkeys because I thought we were going to be 20 (we had many last minute cancellations due to various reasons) and it was too much turkey. It was entirely too much food because we are so used to cooking for 40. But it was small enough to have one conversation for the entire group which slipped easily into side conversations. We invited all the family dogs and this one, Tuna, perched on Edda’s lap for a little while and looked for food. We had four dogs in attendance and my parents had fun feeding them bits of turkey. We did insist that everyone was vaccinated – so we did not invite anyone under the age of 12 (who by now are 1/2 vaccinated). I think the most insistent person of this rule were my parents – because there were (numerous) families with children under 12 who I would have loved to have invited, but I understood the parameters. But funnily, my parents had been hesitant to getting their booster shots (which did worry me, even though they insisted they “never went anywhere” – because they are EIGHTY) but I felt like I couldn’t “make” them go get it. But we all, as a group, managed to convince my parents to get their boosters and they got them on Friday – just in time for the Omicron variant. We did not rapid test everyone before the event, though.

I worked at the hospital on Friday. I feel (this is my own general rule) that I should work either Thanksgiving or Christmas and usually I pick Christmas. But this year, I’m going to be out of town on Christmas – so obv. I should have worked Thanksgiving, and I kind of hemmed and hawed at this but I ended up not working Thanksgiving day, but I did work on Friday and it was brutal. So I feel like I did my holiday coverage for less pay. On a “regular good” day – I have 4 patient and one tech who I usually share with 2 other nurses. Yesterday – I had 6 patients and no tech. I did not cry – I was telling Bob that when I’m so busy – I just know what things I can drop and not do and then I try to not feel bad about it. On a “regular good”, I usually feel like I have a grip on the day by about 11 am. On a “regular day”, that feeling comes at about 1 pm. On a bad day – you feel like you are always falling, falling and going backwards.

Booster-ed!

We are all booster-ed now. In the same order that we got the first doses – me first, then Edda, then Jeremy and Vince bringing up the rear. I guess that is the right order of administration given our relative risk levels. I think if I had to redo the order under the circumstances now, I’d do Edda first, Vince second, me third and then Jeremy. Edda because she’s in school and can’t mask well and people have to be close to care for her and not everyone in the school is vaccinated (I do wish I could have gotten her the moderna one), Vince 2nd, because he’s at school (even though they have 98% vaccine compliance and biweekly covid testing) and interacting with people all the time and he favors cloth masks and is probably slightly unreliable in wearing the masks – like when his friends are piercing his ears in his apartment. Me third – even though I work in a hospital – because by the time patients get to me, they are tested and all my coworkers are vaccinated and I’m very careful with my n95 mask at work (one of the few nurses who still does the n95). And then Jeremy because he goes nowhere. Poor guy. <3. He needs to go somewhere.

Doris – P-P-P (that was the only one available when the boosters were first approved)

Edda – P-P-P (she’s still under 18, so technically not OK for M)

Jeremy – P-P-M

Vince – M-M-M

Vince got his booster at a Costco near school (he had needed to rent a zipcar to get there) and so after the vax appointment, he went shopping for heavy things. And then he texted – woah, it’s easy to spend money at Costco – I got three things and it was $50!

Mom is 80!

We are so lucky that my parents both turn 80 this holiday season. My mom’s birthday was yesterday and we celebrated at their home with my dad as chef!

My dad bought the best steak on the internet and had it shipped to the house and he thought up the menu. Jeremy was sous chef. We also had long noodles for long life – all delicious.

I splurged and bought my mom a LV bag and I got the most perfect reaction of delight and happiness.

My mom literally is the cutest ever.

And we rounded out the evening with a delicious, beautiful carrot cake from Lauren.

I can’t keep up.

I feel, in many ways, that I’m at a crossroads. I really feel a real break from my old, younger life. Jeremy and I (and Edda) are settling into our new(ish) empty-ish nest and post-pandemic routine. Sometimes I think we are super boring – but someone reminded me that super-exciting is not good either. One of the things I really want to let go of is 1) social media and 2) watching any TV/movies. I did not log into Facebook on my new computer. I thought I was a low consumer of Facebook, but it turns out I did check on it throughout the day on my old laptop computer – but now I can tell I’m really off of it because Jeremy will come into the room and say – did you see what happened to so-and-so? And I’ll say – no, I didn’t. And then he’ll show me his Facebook feed. I think it’s ok not to know, but I waver. I do relax by scrolling through instagram – which is only hobbies – almost no friends, but I can tell I get too invested in people’s lives I don’t know. The movies/TV thing is also surprisingly hard for me to give up. I cancelled our Netflix account right before Squid Games came out and I did feel like I was missing out. But I didn’t resubscribe to watch it. It’s mostly this feeling like – well, I didn’t see Mad Men/Sopranos/Breaking Bad/Keeping up with the Kardashians, but I could always make time to watch it. But I think I want to close this door. To acknowledge that I won’t ever watch these things. One of the things about closing this door is saying, yes, that I’m out-of-touch with cultural happenings and I will always be this way. And my deepest-darkest thing that I want to give up is the news. I don’t want to read the news anymore. But this somehow feels like I’m giving up what it means to be a responsible citizen. I’ve never been a very good news keeping up person, but to let it go is to drop into the category of being the uninformed. Be an informed voter! Be an informed citizen! everyone cries. But everyone is so loud. So opinionated. I no longer want to do this. I just want to live my life.

Things I’m learning from YouTube.

A few days ago, I was contemplating cutting Edda’s hair. I always want to cut her hair to chin length, but I’ve been procrastinating for a few months. I send Edda to school with only the front bit of her hair in a little ponytail, but she always comes back from school with all her hair in a sloppy, high ponytail. I think someone at school really wants the hair away from her face. So I decided I should try French braiding her hair everyday. So I’m trying. I’m halfway decent at it, but not as good as our au pair Keyla who would do amazing things with Edda’s hair and it would stay together tightly against her head though the day. My braid starts the day pretty tight, but by the end of the day, it looks pretty frazzled. I’ll keep trying. I watch lots of youtube videos.

That’s the first thing I’m learning from youtube. I’m also learning two other things: handstands and Spanish. I decided that before I turn 50, I’m going to learn how to hold a handstand for 10 seconds. I’ve never been able to do this in my life and it’s helping me with my shoulder rehab. So for about 5 minutes each night, I throw myself upside down against a wall to try and find the balance. I’m learning to not to search for the balance by being lucky, but to try and create the balance by adjusting how I press against the floor with hands – sometimes more with the fingers, sometimes more with the heel. But I need to be strong enough to hold my bodyweight upside down for a bit to find it, right now it’s a combination of being unable to find the balance and being somewhat weak and unable to stay upside down for longer than 10-15 seconds. I’m also still listening to Spanish on youtube. Depending on the topic, I can now almost understand full conversations in the break room at the hospital from Spanish-speaking staff and more and more patients are waving away me using the translator phone and we stumble through our day with a mixture of bad English/Spanish (I always use the translator phone when I need detailed information to be conveyed).

Weekend update.

We are fine, we are fine, but it’s been a rough weekend in the neighborhood, but everyone is on the mend. At some point in time, we had two dogs from two different households and a feverish child (not mine, not covid) in the house. I worked at the hospital yesterday, I really wanted to call out, but I did not because Jeremy handled everything – it was a tough shift for a Sunday. A good nursing team, but a lot was going on and my mind was elsewhere. Unstable blood pressures, blood transfusions, doctors who were hard to get in touch with, etc. etc.

Edda got her booster on Saturday morning. Initially, I had scheduled it at the CVS at 7 am. I had some trouble procuring this appointment because since the kiddo doses came out, the appointments have filled again. But this CVS is 24 hours and I could have scheduled an appointment at 2am. Anyways, the mid-day appointments were all gone, so I scheduled it for the latest open morning appointment which was 7 am. That meant that Saturday, instead of a slightly lazy morning where we could sleep in until 7:30, it would be a regular get-up-at-6 am day. So we all woke up and got Edda up and as I was about to leave the house and checking my email to look up the appt details, I noticed that they cancelled our appt earlier in the morning. I guess someone called out. Anyways, I was sitting around a little grumpy that I had gotten up early (because Friday night was CRAZY and I could have used more sleep), but I hunted around a little and found a county run site at the local community college and they had appointments at 9:30. So we headed out there and got the job done. Edda did have a restless night on Saturday and was under the weather on Sunday. Eliana was here and took good care of her while I was at work. I wanted Edda to have her extra dose before we head into the holidays and travel. We are not hosting our normal 40-50 person Thanksgiving this year, but we are hosting 20. Sometimes I go around and say – we aren’t having a Thanksgiving! But then Jeremy reminds me that 20 is still a lot and it will be a lot (of fun). Even without covid, I’m not sure we’d get up to the 40 person event anyways, there are other reasons people can’t travel. I need to think of something to make – I want to make something!

Delivery.

Vince ordered something and accidentally had it delivered to the house. He told us to open the package and set it near some friends. Now it lives with all our squishys and Edgar Allen Poe.

Vince is a funny, funny boy. He’s getting the hang of things – figuring out friends, figuring out how much to study, how to fix his bike & go grocery shopping. All good. But for weeks now, I’ve been reminding him to get his flu shot – it’s mandated by his school and the deadline is next week. I said – just sign up through the school or walk into a Target or whatever. It was a mixture of kind of forgetting and also casually looking and finding no appointments available within walking/biking distance from school. I kind of couldn’t believe it that there were no appointments, but we stepped through the web sites last night and, lo and behold, there were no appointments anywhere right around campus (probably also because kiddos 5-11 are getting their first shots). So I pulled out my computer and set the search wider and made him an appointment on Monday in the same town he got his COVID shot about 8 miles from campus. This will require a car. I turned to Jeremy and said, well I guess no one in Woodland is getting vaccinated because that’s the place you go to get any vaccine availability.