Wow. What a year.
Many of us have been held captive by the news. Maybe even become news junkies, waiting for the next headline on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN or NPR to raise our blood pressure and our anxiety level. We may swear off and then be drawn back into the melee. That has been the case for me. I said I would only read the news when I first got up in the morning, but then an email would come in from the New York Times or the Washington Post and I'd feel compelled to read it.
In spite of my continued captivity to the news, there were gifts in this unforgettable year. These are mine:
1. We decided to convert the daylight basement of our family home in Brier, a northern Seattle suburb. We'd been talking for several years about making a change in our residence. After five years as snowbirds in Tucson, I was ready to move to Arizona full time, to our small (620 square feet) park model trailer in a retirement community. But Art was not. Born and raised in Seattle, he'd lived elsewhere only during his stint in the Marine Corps in the late 60s. He wasn't ready to make a permanent change. We considered renting apartments or buying a smaller one-story home, but Seattle housing is expensive, and if we were spending half our year in Tucson, the unused Seattle dwelling would be money wasted. Deciding to remodel the basement in our family home was the optimal solution.
2. We had the financial resources to do the remodel.
3. We hired my son James to do the work based mostly on faith that his work ethic would lead to success. We were right.
4. I saw James more often this summer than I have in the last 20 years. I realized that he is now a man of honor, which was a primary goal I had as a parent.
5. Everything in our new apartment was chosen by me, from furniture to teal accent pieces - none of it expensive. There are a LOT of unneeded things still in the garage! My preference for minimalism has a chance in this new place.
6. During the pandemic, I got to choose the degree of risk I was willing to take on. I always wear a mask in public as my contribution to the greater good. I almost always refrain from having any non-household member in my home or in my car. I think I've eaten inside a restaurant maybe three times since March.
7. I used my first stimulus money to pay rent for an Afghan refugee now living in France. We had the financial resources to do that.
8. On Thanksgiving Day, we had a Zoom call with the kids in our blended family. Six out of eight of them turned up. For a few, it had been years since they had seen each other. I'm pretty sure one of them was watching a football game at the same time.
9. On Christmas Day we invited two friends to join us for dinner. We set up a large table in the carport and, socially distanced, enjoyed a communal meal of ribeye steaks, cheesy potatoes, corn bread, and green bean casserole, with apple crumble for dessert.
10. On the third-to-last day of the year, I got an ultrasound-guided injection in my right hip. I am looking forward to more frequent walks and better sleep.
When I look for the gifts, I can always find them.