Making Christmas Last

As he was going to bed on Christmas night, the Bug said, “Mama, now we don’t have anything to look forward to tomorrow!”

That pretty much sums it up.

All the build-up of Advent is pretty much guaranteed to ensure that Christmas day is somewhat anticlimactic.

We Did Our Best

The boys definitely got more gifts this year than they have previously. Since we’re usually traveling on Christmas, presents have traditionally been kept small.

This year, we had more time to think about it. The present ideas kept accumulating, and knowing that we didn’t have to fit any of them in a suitcase helped to remove almost all restraint.

Luckily, our budget ensured that we didn’t go *too* far overboard.

Presents Alone Don’t Cut It

Yeah, the presents are great. There’s magic in coming down the stairs to find presents piled under the tree where only the evening before there were none.

But I think it’s everything around Christmas, the other traditions and activities, that help to make it special and to make the feeling last through the whole season.

Here are some ways you can make Christmas last a little longer than our modern allotment of 24 hours.

1. Food

Christmas cookies. Baked ham. Panettone. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious like I was this year, a bûche de Noël (aka a Christmas log cake).

These make the Christmas season so special. In Spain, it’s tradition to eat fish on Christmas Eve (Chico spoiled me thoroughly with a hake and green sauce dish with littleneck clams!).

Then of course there’s Christmas day with all its epicurean delights.

But the pleasures of Christmas food don’t need to end there. Panettone lasts for days, and Christmas cookies can last past Christmas (though they don’t often).

Baked ham makes for great leftovers, and there are other traditional foods to be eaten all throughout the twelve days. I’m looking forward to another spread Chico is planning for New Year’s Eve!

And don’t forget to make a King cake for January 6th! We plan to make a roscón de reyes. Soon we will have to have the perennial debate: stuff it with whipped cream or not?

2. Music

Yeah, I know you’re probably sick of Christmas music by now. But I’m not talking about cheesy mall Christmas tunes.

There are a lot of beautiful albums inspired by the season, in pretty much every genre. You can go for a cappella, crooners, jazz (a favorite of ours is the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas).

If you’re into classical music, you can enjoy a little Handel. Or even look up traditional Christmas music from other countries and cultures.

In my books, we can listen to Christmas music through Epiphany!

3. Gift-Giving

In the States we generally limit gift-giving to Christmas Day. Mostly, it’s because we don’t have the vacation days to celebrate for the entire Christmas season.

But one way to keep the Christmas cheer going for a little longer is to extend the gift-giving over several days. Or you can celebrate Epiphany on January 6th, which is when many cultures exchange their Christmas gifts.

Today is Boxing Day (the feast of Saint Stephen), which was traditionally when landowners would give gifts to their tenants. It was a day for the wealthy to share with those less fortunate.

Today, in the spirit of giving, we took some old shoes, toys and puzzles we have outgrown to donate to a local shelter.

It’s important to do as the song says and “pause in life’s pleasures to count its many tears,” and remember those who aren’t able to enjoy Christmas like we can.

4. Playing Games

Games are a big part of Christmas celebrations around the world. Yesterday we enjoyed a couple rousing rounds of Funny Bunny–always a kid pleaser.

The boys got several new games for Christmas, and throughout the season we’ll take time to play them as a family.

Charades or Celebrity are great games for get-togethers, and Chico and I have had success playing them over House Party calls.

If your household isn’t big into games, maybe the festive season is the right time to try a few. So long as you can avoid arguments. Always a danger when it comes to games…

5. Lights & Decorations

Darn it, I’m keeping these decorations up until Epiphany (or until the very last minute for when our HOA is offering tree pick-up).

Having the extra lights in this darkest time of the year is really cheering. The decorations make the house feel cozy and inviting.

Since we’re spending so much time at home, I say the cozier the better.

The Magic of Christmas

It doesn’t have to end too quickly. I’m going to continue to advocate for celebrating right until the very last day.

After the dumpster fire of a year this has been, I think we could all use some extended partying.

Christmas Cookie Madness

It’s been a crappy year. For that reason alone, we need LOTS of Christmas cookies.

Also because we’re at home, we’re bored, and we might as well bake.

Therefore, I admit it.

I have gone overboard.

I have made cookies in years past, it is true. But not quite this many cookies. And perhaps not with this intensity and sense of purpose.

It’s hard to say exactly when it started. Honestly, the days are kind of running together at this point.

But I think it was Friday night that I mixed up the first batches of cookie dough, ready to bake on Saturday.

First up were some wonderful gingerbread cookies. I haven’t made these every year, but the Bug asked specifically for gingerbread cookies this year.

Next up, I mixed up the dough for the ever-popular and much-beloved peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies (sometimes called peanut butter blossoms).

Saturday and Sunday we baked and decorated, and by the end of the weekend we had the previously mentioned cookies as well as my favorite sour cream ginger cookies, and Russian tea cakes.

The last cookies to make are the chocolate crinkle cookies, which are always popular.

Why so many cookies?

Is it just me, or does it feel like this Christmas has to be the most Christmassy of Christmasses in this history of Christmas?

As if, in an effort to make up for such an awesomely and epically crappy year, we need to make Christmas even more over the top to compensate?

I was even thinking of making a Bûche de Noël, for goodness’ sake!

Whatever the reason, I feel myself driven by some unknown force to make this Christmas a very special one for the boys.

This is the first Christmas we are spending at home just the four of us. Up until now we have always traveled for Christmas.

Perhaps I’m worried they’ll find it disappointing after previous years of boisterous family gatherings.

Relieved and Disappointed

Honestly, though, I am so relieved not to be traveling for Christmas this year.

Though we were supposed to have seen our family members throughout the year: in summertime, for Thanksgiving…

So now, even though I wanted to stay home for Christmas, I’m still feeling bummed about not seeing our families.

Less Christmas Stress

But as Chico and I were saying the other night: we feel far less stressed about the holidays this year.

It’s nice not to worry about packing so little so that we’ll have room to bring gifts back. I’m not worried about overweight luggage, travel delays and winter storms.

(I’m also remembering how last year the Bear spent the entire transatlantic flight being sick to his stomach. Man, I’m glad we won’t have to deal with that!)

Bittersweet

In 2019, I wanted to stay home for Christmas 2020. In 2019, I had crossed the Atlantic four times, flown domestically four times, and was ready to just stay put for once.

Now in 2020, I’ve been forced to stay put. And the travel itch is growing.

Hopefully, in 2021, we’ll be able to see our loved ones near and far. And maybe we’ll travel for Christmas again.

Maybe.

Snow Days!

I don’t know exactly how this works.

Our county schools all reverted to 100% distance learning as of Tuesday because of rising coronavirus infection rates.

On Wednesday, we had a snow day. Today, we had ANOTHER SNOW DAY.

I don’t really see the logic of declaring snow days when everyone’s connecting virtually anyway, but whatever.

One Happy Dude

I know one person was DELIGHTED to have two days off from school.

Yup. He’s in kindergarten, he’s nearly six, and he’s our Winter Baby.

The Bug, our very own Canadian.

In His Element

I practically had to wrestle his snow gear on to him before letting him out of the house. He was dying to get out in the white fluffy stuff.

The boy who normally doesn’t want to get out of his pajamas on the weekend was dressed shortly after breakfast and ready to be out of doors in the falling snow.

It was delightful. We took an ambling walk and admired the flakes that landed on our gloves, caught them on our tongues, and marvelled at the accumulation happening right before our eyes.

I was taking photos, and in each one the Bug has an enormous grin on his face.

He’s making snow angels, making footprints, gathering up snow for a tiny snowball…

The Bear, on the other hand, looks less than amused in most of the pictures.

Ah, the difference between my Summer Baby and my Winter Baby.

Born To Cold

The Bug was born in early January in Montreal, Canada.

The day before he came it had been mild, only -17 degrees Celsius (hovering just above zero in Fahrenheit).

That night, though, the temperature plummeted to -34C (-29F) and every pregnant woman in Montreal near her due date went into labor.

The only reason I scored a private hospital room was because the Bug came in a damn hurry. Five hours from the first contraction to delivery.

The February after he was born was the coldest February in recorded Quebec history (a fact my mother never failed to point out to me when she was visiting that month).

We toted him around in a carrier with a special insert in our winter coats to keep him warm. We took him out in a stroller so bundled up that only his little face was showing (he needed his vitamin D!).

And since then, he has always loved the cold.

Two in a Row

So you can imagine his delight when they announced another snow day yesterday afternoon.

We’ve spent most of the past two days outside in the snow. Snow forts, snow castles, ice piles, butt sledding, ice skating on our frozen driveway… We did it all.

And though it was exhausting, it was magical.

It’d be nice to get a bit more snow for Christmas, but being in Virginia, we won’t hold our breath.

At least we’ve had this taste of winter wonderland. And we can confidently say we took full advantage of every minute.

An Illegal Hug

We humans really are funny creatures.

Previously I wrote about being an extrovert and really missing contact with others. Today, I stole a quick moment of contact that was wonderful.

But made me yearn for more.

Outdoor Meetups

At some point, a couple friends and I decided to get together outdoors. We meet up with our kids in quiet playgrounds, always looking for secluded spots.

Today was a sunny and warm-ish day, so we met up after school got out on an elementary school playground.

We hadn’t seen each other for a while, and the sense of joy at being together was palpable. Chatting away, we were delighted to be doing something that felt so normal.

A Stolen Moment

One of my friends is acting as homeschooling teacher for her own kids and another pair of siblings. She is a woman of incredible energy, generous and kind in spirit.

We were just getting settled into a nice chat when suddenly, one of her charges called out to her from the top of a jungle gym.

“Ms. S! I’m stuck! I need help!”

She caught sight of him and broke off mid-sentence. A look of kindly exasperation came over her face, she gave a quick sigh and moved to step past me, towards him.

Just as she was preparing to dash over, she made the slightest move towards me with her arms open.

Without realizing what I was doing, I opened my arms to meet her, and we caught each other in a quick but warm hug, faces turned away from each other.

Time seemed to stop.

Her smell nearly overcame me. I caught a wonderful mix of scents: her laundry detergent, lotion, shampoo, maybe even perfume?

It was wonderful.

I realized in that brief embrace that I hadn’t hugged anyone but my family since February. No wonder the scent of her arrested me: I’m so used to the smell of my boys that any different smells strike me as strong.

It lasted just a split second. We broke apart, she ran off and negotiated the kiddo off the top of the jungle gym.

That Hug Said So Much

Without saying anything, I felt like we had told each other so much.

That hug spoke of loneliness, exhaustion, frustration, empathy, solidarity. It spoke of need.

It was a beautiful and spontaneous expression of a need for contact.

All Too Brief

Shortly after, a nasty fall from a different jungle gym ended our visit a bit early. Someone got a knock on the nose, and needed to go home for a little TLC.

Without any expression of resentment for shortening the visit, my friend gathered her charges and prepared to head home.

I sensed that she could have done with a longer visit, a longer natter, a good yarning session.

I wished she could stay longer too, but I silently thanked her for that illegal hug.

It was a little preview of what we have to look forward to when, some day hopefully not too far from now, the pandemic is over.

No Christmas Shopping Mojo

I am a terrible shopper.

I’m especially bad at clothes shopping. I get bored and frustrated quickly, and can only really shop for clothes in good company. Otherwise I wilt.

When it comes to Christmas shopping, I make the classic mistake of only thinking about Christmas gifts as the holidays approach.

This, I have learned, is not the best approach to Christmas shopping.

Good Christmas Shoppers

I suspect that people who are good at Christmas shopping are people who shop regularly.

They know who they want to buy gifts for, and when they’re out shopping throughout the year, they always have an eye open for a good potential gift.

I’ve known people who have a hideaway in the back of a closet or under some stairs where they keep the potential gifts they’ve accumulated over the year.

These people are the BEST people to get gifts from. They’ll give you something they found at a craft fair last spring, or in a gift shop in Vienna in September.

I wish I were one of those people! Instead, I am a:

Christmas Shopping Disaster

Suddenly, the holidays are nearly upon us, and here I am with few gift ideas and even fewer shopping opportunities.

I was so proud of myself last year: I had remembered to keep an eye open for Christmas gifts starting in late summer.

As a result, I was well-prepared with some great stocking stuffers and other presents.

In 2020 Though…

Thanks to the ongoing global pandemic, regular shopping has been curtailed for most everyone. We’ve barely gone anywhere since March and nothing’s been happening, so where are we supposed to have shopped?

This year, a lot of our Christmas shopping will have to be done online. But online just isn’t the same!

Shopping online limits the possibility of a serendipitous find–the stumbling upon something that makes you think of someone you love.

I know that Etsy and other platforms offer a whole range of lovely gift ideas, but being rather a kinaesthetic person, I have trouble really visualizing something when it’s in a 2D picture on a screen.

I like the experience of seeing, touching, holding and feeling something before buying it.

“But Jane! Don’t you knit?”

WELL YOU MIGHT ASK!

I do, indeed.

But, as with Christmas shopping in general, I only ever remember to start knitting for Christmas in October or November.

Then I make grand, ambitious plans and end up injuring myself trying to knit it all.

That’s precisely what happened last year when I knitted my mother-in-law an exquisite lace-bordered shawl (which she adores and I was so proud of, but OUCH MY SHOULDER!).

Christmas Shopping in 2020

I’m just warning anyone expecting a Christmas gift from us: It’s going to be small.

Our boys will be getting a gift from Santa, one from the Three Kings and maybe a pile of books from us. We’ll make up and send packages to our family, and we’ll do our best.

In this year of illness, death and mourning, I desperately want to brighten up everyone’s holiday by sending them the perfect gift.

But that is an unrealistic expectation, and it’s not healthy for me to put that much pressure on myself.

So Christmas will be small this year. We’ll be celebrating quietly at home. No traveling for Christmas for nearly the first time in a decade.

But we’ll be thinking of those we love, and looking forward to another year when we can all be together.

Meantime, here’s James Taylor singing “Have yourself a merry little Christmas.”

That Being Said…

So the other day I was all, “Bah! Humbug! Let’s not start celebrating Christmas too soon!”

Well, today my house is all decked out in Christmas decorations.

It turns out, I have small children.

Christmas Is Irresistible to Small Children

The lights! The decorations! The colors! The traditions!

It was all I could do to keep our kids from writing their letters to Santa and los Reyes Magos before Thanksgiving.

(Quick aside: in Spain–and many other countries–the Three Kings bring gifts on January the 6th. Since our Bug’s birthday is January the 8th, we put in a special request to their majesties to come on New Year’s Day. They’re very obliging.)

And so, we pulled out the box of Christmas decorations. We took one look at it and decided it was too meager.

Thankfully, Trader Joe’s had pretty table wreaths. And Target had adorable decorations. And the Bear needed his own Christmas stocking! (Shockingly, I haven’t made him one until now…)

The Bear really likes trains. Like, really likes trains.

What About the Humbug??

Believe me, there’s still plenty of humbug in me!

But it is true that the kids’ excitement for Christmas is infectious. As we put up our mix of sentimental old decorations and new mass-produced ones, I felt a bit of that humbug melt away.

I was reminded of my favorite Christmas decorations growing up. The beautiful glockenspiel. The brass angel candle holders. My parents’ modern wooden nativity scene.

I remember how magical they seemed to me. How taking them out and polishing them each year sparked the magic of the Christmas season.

So I let a bit of the humbug go.

But not enough…

To put up the tree yet! DARN IT, I WILL NOT YIELD!

The Big Important Things

I’ve been pushing these out of my mind lately.

You know what they are. The Big Important Things you need to do. The things that seem terrifying.

And the longer you go without doing them, the more terrifying and difficult they seem.

An Example

Take, for instance, the dishes (not a Big Important Thing, but serves as a good example).

Since this is pandemic time, and we’re all at home together, we have four people eating three main meals a day and two smaller snacks. That generates a lot of dishes.

Say I were to leave them piling up in the sink and on the counters until the end of the day. By the time evening rolls around, the number of dishes in the kitchen is overwhelming.

There are now more dishes that I will ever possibly be able to do! The pressure!! The stress!! I naturally have a breakdown.

However, if we start the day by one of us popping all the breakfast things in the dishwasher right after brekkie, another tidying the lunch things away, quickly sweeping the snack dishes in in the afternoon…

Then, by dinner time, the kitchen is tidy and ready to be cooked in, and the dishes after dinner aren’t so crushingly overwhelming.

Voila! Simples!

In Reality, Though…

While we all know that the Big Important Things aren’t that difficult to do, they, like the dishes, accumulate and seem to take on an aura of impossibility.

For me, it’s financial things. Doing taxes, financial planning, etc. It’s not that it’s hard, but it’s something I do not easily grasp and must take a little more time to think through.

And so, I often push them aside until (like when we eventually run out of dishes to eat off of) I’m forced to deal with them.

(Now that’s not to say we’re not taking care of things. We are.)

Grow Into Boogeymen

Though these are things that can be fairly easily dealt with, because I keep putting them off, they seem to get more and more Big, and more and more Important.

That’s when I wake up to pee at 3am and suddenly it pops into my head that I haven’t looked into whether I can continue to contribute to social security in Switzerland while living in the United States, and OH MY GOD I NEED TO DO THAT, and what about looking into that investment we were thinking about, and have we saved enough for a down payment on a house, and OH GOD WILL THE BOYS WANT TO GO TO COLLEGE IN THE STATES HOW WILL WE EVER AFFORD THAT and I should be looking for a job but I’m stuck home with the boys and do I need to have that mole looked at?

But it’s 3am and it’s simply NOT THE RIGHT TIME.

This is where the Big Important Things become boogeymen.

When Day Breaks

But the funny thing is, that (after eventually drifting off to sleep), in the morning I wake up and I have entirely forgotten about these things.

Because the requirements of every day life take priority. And that to-do list of Big Important Things continues to grow.

Occasionally, I’ll take a scythe to it, and like the Grim Reaper will mow down the terrifying Big Important Things on my list and try to reset to zero.

And that’s the trick! The thing is to do one, just ONE of those terrifying things on your to-do list.

When you do that one, you quickly realize that it wasn’t that hard to do after all. And that gives you courage to move ahead with the rest.

Like washing up the dishes, it’s getting started that’s the hard part. Once you get rolling, it’s like they do themselves.

So let’s get rolling!

What are your Big Important Things you’re putting off? How can you get started on just one of them today?

Things I Did Today

I hauled myself out of bed and (miraculously) got on the exercise bike. It’s gotten to the point where it’s almost mechanical now. The day isn’t right if I don’t do it.

I epilated for the first time in far more weeks than I care to say. I did this while sitting stark naked in our bathtub with a three-year-old playing with the Paw Patrol on the bathroom floor next to me, constantly complaining that my “machine” made “too much noise.”

I piled the threenager into the car and went to the grocery store. Found some Spanish jamon serrano which I’d forgotten about until now and now I desperately want to pull out of the fridge.

I put some laundry into the washer. Then moved it to the dryer. Then left it there.

I obsessed over why, despite eating meals heavy in proteins and veggies and some carefully chosen carbohydrates, I’m still feeling hungry after my meals? Is this all in my head?

I ate four cookies (and wrote it down–though first I only counted it as two because two of them were really small, but then I thought the point of writing it all down is to really write it down).

I glanced at the clean and dry bedsheets hanging over our bar stools (to avoid wrinkles) and considered folding them. Then didn’t.

I finished a book.

I took the boys to the playground where I continually shooed them away from me and told them to go play, no, Mama is not “safe”, stop jumping on me, ouch, please go play, we are at the playground, there’s a jungle gym, you guys can climb on me at home. Finally, I fended them off with my knitting needles.

We saw a really really really big snake crawling through the playground. I managed to scoop it up onto a long stick and toss it into the bushes. It was kinda scary and cool. My boys weren’t impressed.

I cooked one meal for the Chico and me and another for the boys. I couldn’t face their complaints, meltdowns and grossed-out faces. The Chico devoured his meal and had seconds. God bless him.

I played the piano. I wrote to friends. I’m writing here.

It’s been a busy day.

And Yet…

When I think about some Big Important Things I should probably be doing, it seems like I have been wasting my time.

At least I finished a book. Time to start another.

https://morealtitude.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/evening-star/

It’s Been a Week

First, there was the whole Covid-at-daycare situation.

Which was thankfully followed by two negative test results!

But then came Thursday evening. Thursday evening was a bit of a bust.

A Dumb Accident

It was typical evening of roughhousing. I was practicing piano downstairs when suddenly I heard screaming from upstairs. I heard Chico calling my name, and I ran.

The Bug was on his knees on our bedroom floor, his right arm limp at his side. It was hard to make out what had happened through his screams, but it involved a twist and a pop.

Assuming his elbow was dislocated, I prepared to take him to the ER. I gave him a dose of Motrin, grabbed a new chapter book, water bottles and our masks, and we headed out.

Three and a half hours, several X-rays and a splint later, and we were home with a new toy in hand, given to him by the doctor as we were leaving. There are perks to going to the pediatric ER!

We had to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon on Friday, and it turns out the Bug has such a small radial fracture that it didn’t even show up on the X-rays.

He shouldn’t need his cast for more than a week.

And Now… Trump Has Covid.

We don’t have Covid, but the president does.

(I should say that what I’m writing about now has little to do with the above. It’s late. I’m tired. It’s been a week.)

I haven’t been on Facebook since the news broke, and I intend to stay off it for a while. I don’t really care to know what people think of this situation.

I cannot wish him ill, though. He’s a monster. He’s the human version of Covid, and yet I cannot wish him ill.

The Value of Human Life

It’s appalling to me the way people here seem to undervalue human life. On TV, in films, and even in the news, I see people throwing away human life as if it were nothing.

I read in the Washington Post a couple of weeks ago, that a dispute got out of hand between some neighbors in Fairfax county, Virginia. They were townhouse neighbors, and apparently for years they had been arguing.

One day, one of the men walked up his neighbor’s front steps. He knocked on the neighbor’s door. The neighbor opened his door, and immediately opened fire on the man. He shot him three times, and the man staggered back. He shot him three more times as he fell backwards down the front steps.

And finally, he shot him as he lay at the bottom of the stairs. Seven shots. The man died before an ambulance arrived.

What kind of country is this?

In the midwest, a young man drove hours from his home to shoot protesters in a city in a neighboring state.

All over the country, people are being shot at and disabled or murdered by the police. And then no one is being held accountable or responsible.

And now, on social media, people are spewing forth with vitriol, wishing death on the president.

I’m sure it happens in other places, too, but what terrifies me about the United States is that devaluing human life seems to be part of the culture.

Whether it’s by arguing about the right to own guns, to the normalization of violence in pop culture, I don’t know. But whatever it is, it’s not just on one side of the political divide.

This disregard for the value of a person’s life seems to be just as prevalent on the left as on the right. The left just seems to be a bit more hypocritical about it, it seems to me.

Tying the Two Together

Though our son was never in any danger this week, a visit to the ER is always enough to give one a little perspective.

My son’s life is just as precious as the president’s.

I recoil at the sight of those words, but the thing is they are true. No one’s life is of greater value than anyone else’s.

That is why Black Lives Matter is so important, because as things stand Black lives are not valued as greatly as white lives. As things stand, a Black man like George Floyd is not as valued as my precious son.

And he should be. Because every single human life is precious. Every single one.

Even the president’s.

How to Know You’ve Got a Good One

There are many factors that make a good man.

Too many, in fact, to write about here. So I’m just going to write about one of the many things that makes my Chico wonderful.

(Of course, you’ll soon realize, that while I am singing his praises, this is all really about me.)

Discombobulated

“There’s only Black Rush Irish whiskey in the cabinet,” I said, tripping over the grocery bags in the kitchen.
“Black Rush? Do you mean, Black Bush, Jane?”

It was 9:30am and I was trying to put away groceries when my dad called on FaceTime. I struggled to hold my phone in one hand and put things away with the other.

That’s when he ordered me to the liquor cabinet.

Let me back up.

I’ve got a cold. And this being The Time of Covid, any cold or flu-like symptoms are worrisome. It’s nothing major, just a slightly runny nose, some sneezes and achey sinuses.

I mentioned this to my dad and his advice was: “Have a shot of Irish whiskey, warmed up with some honey and lemon juice in it. Right before bed. It does wonders.”

“Dad,” I said, “we don’t have whiskey. We don’t drink liquor.”
“Yes you do! I bought two bottles when I visited! Where’s your liquor cabinet?”

We don’t have a liquor cabinet as such. Just the cabinet above the stove in the kitchen. You know, the one that’s hard to get to without a stool and therefore used to store things we hardly ever use. Like whiskey.

“Open it!” he ordered.

Which is why, while I was emptying grocery bags into the fridge, I turned, tripped over a couple bags, and reached up to peer into the “liquor cabinet.”

Discombobulated, Part 2

“Black Rush? Do you mean, Black Bush, Jane?” He chuckled.

I closed my eyes and tried to think how to make a joke out of it.

“No, it’s Slack Lush, Dad.”

Bingo! That set him giggling. I relaxed a bit. It always feels good to make my dad laugh, seeing as he’s usually the one getting everyone else to crack up.

I was standing in the middle of the kitchen, the “liquor cabinet” open, grocery bags strewn around me and the open fridge beeping angrily at me, my father on FaceTime, and the prospect of a day facilitating distance learning ahead of me.

The whiskey might be a good idea after all, I thought.

That’s When Chico Found Me

I opened my eyes, and there he was. My husband. He was smiling at me, looking bemused.

He said, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

A smile spread across my face. Just the word tea made me feel better. A small, tinny voice piped up from out of my phone.

“Yes, get her a cup of tea for goodness’ sakes, Arturo! I think we may be losing her!”

Tension Gone

A couple more jokes, a bit more giggling, and soon the groceries were put away, the tea was in front of me, and I was sitting down to finish up my chat with my dad.

As he left the kitchen to head back down into his home office, my husband’s strong hand gently squeezed my shoulder.

I glanced up at his smiling face, and breathed a quick prayer of thanks.

For tea. And for this wonderful man who really knows how to make a good cuppa.