I saw a great Facebook post last week pre-chiding folks for the anticipated comments on Thanksgiving Holiday posts ~ you know the ones…crowds of people cheek to cheek stuffing turkey legs down their throats. The point of the post was the point of so many posts this year – our own response to seeing others being less socially responsible than recommended during times of pandemics. It went something like this – Feeling frustrated at all the non-socially-sensitive posts? Drink your milk. Why? It’s good for your teeth. Know what else is good for your teeth? Minding your own business. So true. And I am SO bad at it. We live in a world where we all feel like we are making all the sacrifices and then not only cringe when we feel like someone else isn’t meeting our standard, but also feel a Joan of Arc passion to stand up and tell them our thoughts. A perfect example of the feeling behind the feeling. You’re not really pissed because your neighbors had a pile of cars parked in their driveway. You’re actually jealous because you didn’t. You’re annoyed at the angel on your shoulder because you followed the rules and missed out on all that feathered fun. Drink your milk. And if you’re really nervous about whatever germs were spread in the house next door, don’t go next door for about, let’s say, ballpark, 14 days. You don’t even have to tell your neighbors why you’re looking away when they wave to you (well, you see, I saw nineteen people lick your doorknob…). Just take a pass. And, while you’re at it, allow others to take a pass. You know that thing – when you extend an invite that is then turned down? No need to follow up on the decline with a full paragraph of why you wish he/she would come or demand a list of reasons as to why they aren’t coming or offering eye rolls to indicate that those reasons aren’t good enough – all guised by an unintentional intent of making them feel bad for doing what they feel is best for them.
Drink your milk.
Maybe it’s time we all admit it. We are using social distancing as a way to back out of events and relationships and pseudo-commitments that we felt a little too unhappily involved in. Finally! We have a reason to say no that doesn’t involve just saying no! It’s okay. We’re allowed to just say no. That’s something we’ve become uncomfortable with as the universe began requiring us to fill all the ‘free’ space in our lives. Unscheduled nights were frowned upon and weekends without to-do lists were shunned. What would we brag about if it wasn’t a long list of taking this kid here, that kid there or arranging that appointment or meeting a teacher or taking a weekend away or dropping the dog at the groomer? Oh, yes, on Saturday my kids had Cricket, Chinese, and Cotillion; On Monday, I volunteered for the school and then hit a swim club board meeting; On Tuesday, it was drinks with the girls after getting the cat’s nails trimmed; On Wednesday…well, you get it. If the day wasn’t filled from pillow up to pillow down, it wasn’t worthy of sharing. Now we’re finding that doing nothing is, in fact, worthy. Yet, we’re still afraid to admit it. We’re still afraid to ask for the space to (not) do it.
Want to know what we did for Thanksgiving? Not a damn thing – other than tell everyone we had plans – skipping the part where our plans were to do not a damn thing. We had intentions of doing things. We started the year thinking it would be another round of holidays spent with Rich’s family at his grandmother’s. Sadly, she passed in June. We meant to kick around the idea of taking that hosting spot over. But we weren’t sure where our own kids would be eating turkey – typically they head off to West Virginia to visit another set of grandparents. That was a bit in unclear with one of them in college. Wouldn’t she just want to come home and finally spend some time with us? Nope. Then, my mother became ill and our intentions shifted to going south to spend the holiday with my dad as he would be be alone. When Mom was released home a week prior, plans flipped again – better to let her re-acclimate to a non-sterile world with no visitors for a few weeks.
And there we were – plan-less.
Four days of nothing? We half-heartedly threw out suggestions (order the whole shebang from Cracker Barrel? pawn ourselves off on friends? sneak away somewhere?). Nothing stuck. We blocked every bullet potential with a lack of motivation. Instead we ordered our groceries (late for Thanksgiving week, pickings slim) and skipped all the foods we didn’t care for (like the actual turkey). Wednesday evening, we thought to invite Rich’s dad down – we’ve never had a single holiday with him and his requirements are incredibly small (paper plates and flannel? heck yeah!). We spent the day with zero hustle or bustle. It was blissful. I’m not even sure the television ever got turned on. Were they able to complete the modified Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade without me shushing the room so I could judge the lip-synched performances? Did Santa have to wear a mask? And what about Westminster Dog Show? Did they find a winner? I started laundry on Black Friday in between cyber shopping. The basket eventually made its way upstairs. It didn’t get put away that day. It did get put away – I’m not a total monster with the ability to live out of the is-it-clean-or-dirty? basket – but I didn’t feel rushed to get it done before whatever was next on the list. There was no list.
Drink your milk.
We received an email at work last week requesting personal wins for the year. At first I thought, Read the room, Uncle Mike, nobody looks back at 2020 with the hope of finding wins. But, I’m a team player and the request included an ask for pictures, highlighting the words ‘the more fun, the better!‘ I pulled out my phone, tapped on the photos button and scrolled all the way back to January – thinking I’d then zip back through my pictures to November in probably three seconds, nary a win to be found. That did not happen. Instead, I found myself laughing and smiling – feeling my cheeks warm with joy as I found win after win after win, documented and ready for a public outing. How far into quarantine were we when I first put on the inflatable dinosaur costume? Prancing around the front yard in perfect view of my terrified husband’s eyes, but out of the Zoom frame of the Commissioner of the NYPD, whom he was trying to have a very serious conversation with. Win. I went further – seeing photos of the kids laying out in our hammocks together reading while I started a now 252 day streak on Duolingo. Aye! Es verdad! Win. I ran a couple 5ks this year, virtually – but with a very real Taco Trot 5k T-shirt awarded to me in the weeks that followed. Pictures of national park trails – where my husband had taken to daily walks to clear his brain. Zoe graduating. Zack at his first job. Zoe moving into her apartment. Zack and his pals still showing signs of ‘just boys’ getting muddy by the creek. Family vacations with our already discovered preferred method of travel – by camper – in the now very popular world of state parks. We got here first! Do we get preferential treatment as people who camped before camping was cool? Win. A four-day end of November span of complete nothingness. Win.
Pick up your phone and zip back to your January photos. Start scrolling. I bet you’ll find a lot of good things from 2020 that have been overshadowed by the 2020 headlines. Our brains have gotten so focused on elections and vaccines and what the heck are we doing with our kids’ education and is my husband ever traveling again and how many people are visiting my neighbors??!?….that the wins have slipped our minds. Rich and I renovated both of our offices. I totally forgot that was this year. We love them. I built a workout area in our basement. We’ve already started a mental list of projects for the next potential shutdown (did I say we? sorry, honey, I know we just finished the balusters). I’m cooking most things from scratch and felt terrible that we had boxed stuffing on Thanksgiving, but, hey, StoveTop is still amazing and the fail of last year’s cornbread chorizo debacle is still with me. Count it as a win. I keep thinking that this was the year of forced nothing. In the meantime, we’ve been over here in the comfort of our home with our favorite people, doing. That’s not nothing.
There’s already whispers of the country being on another lockdown for the Christmas holidays. I’m not even worried. There are more books to read (I now read in multiples), more shows to binge during dinner (we were never going to be those people…the ones who watch tv while eating dinner…well, we are now those people, twice a week), more creative workouts, more VR (yes, me, I just said that…me who only knew how to play Gameboy Tetris as of two weeks ago, has no idea what VR actually means and yet dedicates a minimum of 30 minutes a day to these virtual worlds (oh, virtual – I hear it now)), more lazy mornings followed lazy days followed by a sense of satisfaction for accomplishments met without leaving the house. Or just being still. If you look out the window and see a pile of cars at your neighbors – shut the curtain. Step back into your house and your life and the things you love and find your your wins.
And drink your milk.