How was your Christmas? Ours was predictably lowkey, but not without its highlights. The Christmas Eve weather forecast was for rain and more rain so we were up and out early for a quick trip to the market to pick up fresh mussels and a ciabatta for our dinner. The rain hadn’t started yet when we returned home so we decided to try and get a walk in. It was cold and blustery but felt good to get some fresh air. Our Christmas geese friends agreed.
Eventually it started to spit rain, so we headed home. Mr. Smith thought he was quite witty when upon closing our apartment door he announced, “Home for the holidays!” as we had no plans to go anywhere else. Much of the afternoon was devoted to reading with the backdrop of sleety rain pinging on our windows. Mid-afternoon we Face Timed with our grandchildren, letting their excited babble of holiday happiness fill our apartment. As the sky grew dark and our flameless candles began to flicker, it was time for Mr. Smith to prepare our dinner. We ended our day with bubbly, mussels and the annual viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life.
Christmas morning started with us watching crews put up barricades closing the Market Street Bridge that we overlook. All the widespread rain in our area that had help melt the large snow piles left by last week’s storm was causing the Susquehanna River to rise. The flood gates had been closed on Christmas Eve and Mr. Smith had begun monitoring the river level online, as well as popping out for photographs. While the level was high and flowing rapidly with all sorts of debris, it doesn’t look like it will reach the previously predicted flood level.
Safe from rising water ten stories below, it was time to think about Christmas dinner. Normally it takes extensive planning – the menu and wine selection, grocery getting and deciding on the table setting. Earlier in the week while scrolling through menus and table setting inspirations, I was pining for Christmases past and longing for the time we can again gather to celebrate outside our bubble. I fondly remembered the family chaos and craziness of holidays past and thought – I should have paid more attention and soaked up every single detail. And then it hit me. I needed to pay attention to NOW and not wish my Christmas with Mr. Smith away. In the years of raising children, there were countless times I wished the two of us could enjoy a quiet dinner for two. Ah, just the little attitude adjustment I needed. It made a huge difference and I took it as a personal challenge to make it a special day.
Barring dinner with our extended family this year, we’d have a romantic, elegant dinner for two. We decided to keep the menu simple and chose Caesar salad and a simple carbonara. Mr. Smith and I have prepared many a dinner together and have it down to a superbly choreographic dance. There is no question he is in charge and I am the sous chef. With Diana Panton singing Christmas tunes and a glass of wine, dinner prep seemed to fly by and it was time to light the candles, sit down together and savor our creation.
A Hobby Lobby commercial chides us that “Christmas is what you make of it.” But isn’t all of life what we make of it? In my very first blog post on January 1, 2019, I wrote about the most important lesson I had taken away from counseling, that it is our job to make our life the best that we can. I am in no way discounting the very real challenges of this past year, but I’m sure it helps our mental health to find positive moments to focus on in a year of chaos. I have had more than my share of “melancholy moments”, but I’m trying to follow that maxim.
I’m hoping 2020 will be the reason I’m more grateful in the future. Sometimes “gratitude” can seem like a platitude, but I do have much to be grateful for. Mr. Smith weathered COVID pretty easily, I am healthy and so is my family at the moment and those are no small things. And I’m grateful we have a home for the holidays and can gaze out our high windows and watch the beautiful Susquehanna below and know we are snug and content.
C’est la vie.