Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

Isolated Festively

leave a comment »

Over a holiday weekend that historically would have us venturing sixty-some miles to the west three times in two days to mingle and nosh with Cyndie’s relations, the Christmas of 2020 in all its pandemic isolation reduced our travels to one time to exchange gifts at her mom’s house. Distanced, masked, and without risking a shared meal, our children met us at Marie’s house in Edina on Christmas eve day for the briefest of gift exchanges.

Little did we realize before setting out in the moments after our township road had finally been plowed around 11:00 a.m., we were in for some of the riskiest driving we’d experienced in recent memory. From local roads to the interstate highways, the surface was frozen and slippery. Almost every mile, sometimes more frequently, we spotted vehicles buried in the ditch.

Approaching a speed that would require the use of brakes in order to slow down was taking chances that threatened an unwelcome hell of post-storm autobody appointments, not to mention bumps and bruises, or worse.

Every overhead message board flashed warnings of crash delays ahead. As we waited in one backup, a full-size fire engine forced its way ahead and crossed all lanes to block the two left-most. We crawled ahead to where the sight of a big rig was perched on the cement barrier dividing east and westbound traffic, front tires high off the ground.

Later, another backup wrapped around a helpless pickup in a center lane, lacking enough traction to make any progress up the slight incline.

Cyndie’s expertly cautious driving got us there and back without incident.

Back home with presents in hand, we settled in for three days of isolation that Cyndie masterfully enhanced with wonderfully festive meals and activities, while simultaneously continuing to practice post-surgery regiments for her knee.

We ate like royalty and dined on some of her family holiday classics. Beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, marinated carrots, out-of-this-world skin-on mashed red potatoes, and dessert of unparalleled greatness, cranberry cake with butter-caramel sauce.

We sat around the fireplace and worked on a new jigsaw puzzle from Marie that depicted chickens that looked just like ours. Cyndie poured herself into new books and I spent renewed time in my world-wide online community, catching up on reading and writing there.

A text-chain of family members helped us to stay connected, but there was no getting around the fact we were home alone together at one of the most family-gathering times of the year.

Somehow, maybe due to an urge to make it feel anything but just another day at home, Cyndie took interest in assembling the jigsaw puzzle with me, something in which she usually finds no pleasure. I chose to match her change in routine by deciding to skip building the outer border first, a step that moved me entirely out of my otherwise rigid norm.

We had a blast with the task, each finding great pleasure in the shared experience.

Quite simply, it helped to make the entire weekend feel downright festive, isolation be damned.

.

.

Holly Jolly

with 2 comments

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 25, 2020 at 7:00 am

Like Christmas

leave a comment »

One week away and it’s occasionally feeling like Christmas is drawing near, except it’s as if it is on the other side of a blurry sneeze guard.

Cyndie and I tolerated a COVID Thanksgiving all by ourselves as well as can be expected. Doing so again for Christmas just a month later is proving to be a little more distressing. Plans are being considered to choreograph separate socially distanced and masked visits but every option is a frustrating variation of the same fiasco.

Why is it so hard to take a year off from normal activities?

I find taking a long view makes it easier for me to accept, but it comes at the cost of glossing over more immediate events. It’s a defensive mechanism, I suppose. I don’t feel as much stress over the loss of normalcy this Christmas when I’m framing the isolation as a step toward having life back to usual next year.

I am prepared to do absolutely nothing with no one for as long as it takes to reach the point where pandemic is no longer a thing.

The day that the use of face masks is declared a thing of the past will feel like Christmas, no matter what month it is at the time.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

December 18, 2020 at 7:00 am

Appropriately Festive

leave a comment »

There was a lot of nesting going on in the days prior to Cyndie’s knee surgery, much of it cleaning nooks and crannies that haven’t received a similar level of intense attention since the days we first moved in. She wore a headlamp to better see the dust clinging to the seams of our tongue-in-groove paneling.

If she would be stuck convalescing in bed, it sure as heck wasn’t going to involve looking up to see the horror direct sunlight reveals this time of year. The low angle of the sun has a unique way of exposing gaps in hospital-level cleanliness.

At least the surroundings are currently as germ-free as the best of recovery rooms in your average hospital. Well, they were for a day, anyway, before a certain dog and cat made their way back in to scatter their hair and dander every which way.

After all the cleaning was done, Cyndie moved on to the Christmas decorations. As the days counted down to the appointed surgery, she accomplished the greatest of feats in making it look as festive as ever around here.

I even found boughs strung with lights staged by the barn!

There may be a pandemic out there squashing the best of our holiday gathering traditions this year, but you’d hardly notice from inside our home.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

.

.

.

 

 

Oh December

with 2 comments

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic seems like a long time ago. As the year dragged on and another person of color was murdered by police, triggering protests around the world, and the U.S. election disinformation machine kicked into “high-fraud” gear, the year 2020 cemented its place in history as one of great collective disdain. The end couldn’t come soon enough.

We’ve now reached the twelfth month and we’ve got COVID-19 vaccines within sight and the election is decided. The Christmas season is upon us. There are sprinkles of hope the year might finally come to an end.

I can’t guess what the New Year’s Eve celebrations are going to be like. In this country, we’ll probably still be trying to slow the community spread of coronavirus, but the collective sigh of “good-riddance” to 2020 will likely be palpable.

In the flood of retail marketing efforts aiming to grab my attention, my email inbox is under constant bombardment with messages of massive savings to be had. I’ve turned it into a game where I zap the messages as fast as they come in, trying to set a high score of deletes in a day.

My shopping method is more of an “I’ll come to you when I want something” mode than wanting to be lured in by supposed deals.

This year, I think most wish lists start with “vaccine” and permission to touch again.

Will that be something Santa can deliver? Maybe if we all believe.

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

December 1, 2020 at 7:00 am

Much Joy

leave a comment »

It all builds up to this. Apparently, there was a lot more “nice” than there was “naughty” in the family this year. Santa’s elves surely worked overtime to supply all the goods for the gift exchanges witnessed yesterday at the Edina house, though this was just a fraction of the joy. There was also laughter and mirth along with some good-natured ribbing and exceptional feasting shared by all.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Most precious of all was the time with family. Time to just be together really is priceless. Puts the material goods at a distant second in terms of value for the holiday.

Delilah did wonderfully in her first-ever visit to the location, which was very important to us. It allowed us to maximize our minutes with the fam this year.

I chose to bring her home after dinner last night, but Cyndie stayed for one more overnight. In the moments after I got home with the pooch, I managed to lock myself out of the house with Delilah inside. Luckily, we have a lockbox with key for just such occasions.

Getting back inside and settling in at home brought almost as much joy as the Christmas celebrations that preceded our return.

One of the most overlooked great things about Christmas is the point when it is finally over and life can return to the usual daily grind.

I hope that doesn’t sound ungrateful, but even a very good thing can get to be a little too much. We have been blessed with a lot of very good things. Now I’m ready to be blessed with a return to our usual normalcy.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 26, 2019 at 7:00 am

Happy Hens

leave a comment »

We are thrilled to report that our hens are acting very happy with the last few days of above-average warmth (above freezing!) around this winter solstice. Tomorrow is Christmas and the hours of daylight started increasing again so the mood is pretty festive around here. A return to home-laid eggs can’t be far off. The day they kick back into that cycle again will bring on its own celebratory moods in our house. We’ve become spoiled with a quality of eggs that the grocery store offerings don’t come close to matching.

During the previous sub-zero cold snaps and bouts of snow, the chickens showed zero interest in venturing outside the coop when we opened the chicken door. Yesterday and Sunday they gladly made the trek back to the barn overhang where there is prime sand-bathing to be had in the sun.

For some reason defying logic, the hens have sequentially been molting for several months now. The two latest raggy looking things are getting their comeuppance for the period they were strutting around looking like award-winning specimens when others were a sorry sight.

Everybody has their day.

We are going to leave the coop buttoned up for a couple of days while we take Delilah with us for an overnight to Cyndie’s parent’s house in Edina. The Christmas tradition for Cyndie’s family involves a big dinner with cousin families on the eve, then breakfast and a gift exchange extravaganza extraordinaire on Christmas morning followed with a big dinner in the evening.

In years past, when we had the horses, I ended up driving back and forth three times in two days in an attempt to be involved in all things at once. This year, we are modifying the plan a little to eliminate a couple of trips.

A nod to taking another tiny step toward reducing our use of fossil fuels for the sake of our warming planet.

I’m not sure the chickens will be so happy about our plan, though, now that they are showing renewed interest in coming out of the coop again when it’s nice.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 24, 2019 at 7:00 am

Many Blessings

with 3 comments

We are celebrating Christmas this morning at Wintervale with our kids and thoroughly absorbing the blessings of peacefulness, luxury, and love that we are lucky enough to enjoy here.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

To all who follow our escapades and my particular “take on things and experiences” here on Relative Something, it is our sincere wish that you discover blessings of peace and love wherever you are in the world today!

Nurture seeds of love from within your hearts and radiate blossoms of genuine lovingkindness to those around you and beyond!

Namaste!

.

.

 

Written by johnwhays

December 21, 2019 at 9:46 am

Very Merry

leave a comment »

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

December 25, 2018 at 7:00 am

List Poetry

leave a comment »

.

• Make a list. It’s the season for lists.

• Use bullets. Bullet points have more “oomph.”

• Be concise. Get to the point.

• Notice the sacred preciousness of every single moment.

• Remember the simple joys of childhood innocence.

• Take care about ever being too certain. Do not be deceived.

• If it seems too good to be true, you know…

• There is still much to do, and not many days left until Christmas.

• Don’t forget to breathe.

• Reserve critical hours for sleep. Be disciplined.

• Be creative.

• Enjoy the sights and sounds of the season, even the crowds.

• Let the music ring.

• Send love to all. Remember those battling depression.

• Make a positive contribution.

• Trust your intuition.

• Know that perfect does not always require perfection.

• Allow for bundles of fun.

• Let your heart overflow with the joy of giving.

• Don’t overthink the details.

• Focus on the positive.

• Check your list twice.

• Remember to feed the pets.

• Always share a smile. It’s a universal gift you can always offer.

• Go forth and enjoy!

.

.