When I assembled the lighted village for 2020, it was the same but different. No carolers, shoppers, Goodwill band, children building snowmen, or Santa. Even the man waiting on the park bench was absent.
All were inside, sheltering in place, hoping to survive the pandemic. Like the three of us.
Maggie was sent home in March to continue her Repair the World fellowship. One corner of her bedroom became her zoom meeting site. Another corner, her work station. Another, her lounge. The program ended in July, so now she applies for online jobs along with 23 million (or maybe 32) unemployed twentysomethings who live with their parents. One day she read me the announcement for a position requiring a college degree and 3-5 years of experience in the field. Salary? Unpaid volunteer. Stunning.
Travel caution forced Cliff to cancel his 2020 scheduled trip West. For a road warrior who lives with an atlas under his chair, remaining in place has been heartbreaking for him. So he set his sights on traveling along all four sides of our fence, encompassing 500+ pickets. Joined by Maggie, the two of them devoted 150 hours to replacing, scraping, and painting it. Weather frequently interfered. And there were breaks to visit with passersby who cheered them on. Cold set in before they finished every last detail but only minor issues remain.
And I continue writing. I’ve worked with the editor of my picture book to be published in 2022. A terrific illustrator has been signed and her preliminary sketches astound me, transforming my sentences into visual magic. I keep writing monthly for my blog “Margin Notes.” As the mother of a Person of Color, my post on microaggression (A Cloud Above Whiteville) illuminates their constant plight. It was shared repeatedly on Facebook and read 650 times. This fall I rose from my desk to plant 200 daffodil and lily of the valley bulbs. With fencing behind them, Cliff and Maggie helped. When digging uncovered a 300-pound sandstone slab, we established a battle plan and won.
Maggie, having now lived with us 24/7 as an adult, turned to me one day and said, “Y’all are a lot.” Indeed we are. All things considered, we manage nicely, especially since we share the same dry sense of humor.
Although I cut back on holiday decor this year, it turns out our neighbor Beth and I decided to turn our lot-line garden hooks into festive statements. She twirled greenery around hers and hung a large red ornament. Mine holds a large pine cone wound with sparkling red berries and hung by a plaid ribbon bow with streamers. Soon after, we encountered each other outside, and from a safe distance, she said, “I told Rob that they look exactly like us. Mine is just plain old Christmas, and yours is elegant.”
So I trust you are safe and well during this holiday season and have found a way, be it plain or elegant, to celebrate. And to survive.