Low Key Holidays

To me this is holiday perfection.

It all started with the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. It was just to be me and Dear Husband, and I wondered out loud what the point would be of all that elaborate grocery shopping and cooking and cleaning and, you know, leftovering for just two people. So we decided, instead, to make reservations at a restaurant that was doing a Thanksgiving feast. All we had to do was get dressed and show up on time. And we actually came home with a ton of leftovers after all.

The venue we chose was The Fisherman’s Restaurant in downtown Seattle, which is located on the waterfront. They specialize in seafood, of course, but on this one day they were offering a 5 course meal, which included turkey and all the fixings. (One course was steamed clams and mussels, though, which was a delightful departure.)

As an added bonus, the weather was uncharacteristically mild, and we had a marvelous view as we dined. Afterward we took a nice walk on the waterfront. It was quite romantic. It also allowed us to work off some of the meal. And when we got home, all there was left to do was perform the traditional nap, which I’ve got to say I did with my usual aplomb.

To me, this is holiday perfection. No muss, no fuss. No dishes to wash. No tense family conversation. No Thanksgiving airport insanity. You can’t beat that.

A few days later, we went to a wonderful play called Mr. Dickens and His Carol, which I blogged about here.

At the beginning of December we had a lot going on, so we never quite got around to decorating the house with extensive Christmas light display we usually do. We didn’t buy and decorate a big tree. We didn’t print a family card. And we never buy and exchange gifts, because we prefer experiences scattered throughout the year rather than adding more stuff to the stuff we already have entirely too much of.

We did buy a tiny live tree, about a foot tall, from Costco, and it sat on our kitchen counter with a star on it. We’ll plant it in the ground once all the holidays are over and the season is right for planting. Dear Husband did put up our big lighted snowflake on the chimney chase for passersby to enjoy, but that was the extent of it.

To get in the spirit, we got tickets to the Garden d’Lights, which took place at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens. The tickets were timed so that only a limited number of people walked the one mile trail at any given time, due to the pandemic. It was, of course, out of doors, and it took about 45 minutes to wander through. That was fun. And it made me want to return in spring in the daytime, to see what the garden itself looks like.

I don’t know if I was just too busy with other things to notice, or if it was just that I hadn’t gotten out and about as much as usual, but I don’t seem to recall seeing very many homes lit up for the season this year. I’m wondering if a combination of economic stress and COVID burnout has everyone on the same path that I’m on. Simplicity equals stress reduction. I’m looking forward to a very chill Christmas, once I get home from work.

Sadly, my birthday falls between Christmas and New Year’s, so I’ve been short-changed, celebration-wise, my whole life. By the time my birthday rolls around, everyone, including me, is kind of over celebrating. Usually, I just pick a restaurant and we go to lunch or dinner. But this year, I’ve decided that I’m going to lean into the Christmas Baby experience and give myself the perfect day.

I plan to take the day off of work and… do absolutely nothing. No chores. No errands. No guilt for not getting things done. I will refuse to even look at my to-do list. And I won’t go anywhere. You can’t make me.

I plan to stay in my jammies all day and read a book. Maybe I’ll soak in the bath if the spirit moves me. I’ll definitely take a nap. That, to me, is my idea of heaven. I’m really looking forward to it.

As for New Years, it’s almost always a non-event for me. I’m not one to drink or go to parties. I don’t believe in ruminating over the past or making promises about the future that I know I won’t keep. If I’m up at midnight, I’ll say Happy New Year. If I’m asleep, I won’t. And I have to work the next morning, so life goes on.

Wow, this year went by quickly. I had already decided that I was going to make an effort to reduce my stress in 2023. It certainly seems as if I’ve gotten off to a good start. I could get used to this.

I hope you enjoy the holidays, dear reader, in whatever way you choose to observe or not observe them! Thanks for being here. I wish you peace on earth, good will to Men, and all that good stuff.

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


Out There for the Holidays

The holidays can be painfully lonely for those of us who are single. At a time when joy is almost mandatory, it makes you feel that much worse when you can’t quite get there. Bah, humbug.

In years past, I’ve tried my best to pretend that the holidays weren’t happening. For example, it’s my New Year’s tradition to be asleep well before midnight. And I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to work on Thanksgiving day, so no turkey for me.

But this year, I’ve decided to go about things differently. Rather than pull my head into my shell, I’m going to thrust myself, headlong, into the festivities.

First came the Holiday Bazaar that my little town puts on. Vendors and craftsmen galore. I was really impressed by the level of creativity. I treated myself to a few things, knowing that Santa hasn’t had me on his drop-off schedule in years. Usually I’m not really in to acquiring stuff, but what the heck.

On another day, I went to Julefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum with my friend Paula. Being half Danish, this has sort of become my Seattle tradition. Again, I bought myself stuff, and also enjoyed the good food and the traditional music. But mostly I enjoyed spending time with a dear friend.

Here are some of the things that I got myself at these two events. The dog is not included. But the socks are. I like the symbolism of the chick emerging from its shell. A local artist paints all sorts of things on rocks, but this spoke to me because I’m trying to emerge, too.


Next, I bought myself some pre-cooked turkey, some instant stuffing, some canned corn, and two types of pie (two slices). I had myself a Thanksgiving dinner a few days late. I even let my dog have a bit of turkey, as I’m thankful for him, too.

Then I went to my little town’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Festivities included Christmas music by the high school band. And when the city councilman spoke, the speakers stopped working, which seemed like a gift from above, if I’m honest. Then the tree was lit, in the same square where I’ve enjoyed Tuesday Farmer’s Markets all summer. My town. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy.


And talk about putting myself out there. While waiting for the tree to be lit, I noticed a man my age, all alone, and sans wedding ring, in the crowd. An old hippie, wearing a leather hat. Just my type. Unfortunately, he was not receiving my “please talk to me” mental telepathy. Normally I’d leave things at that and just feel lonely.

Not this time. I knew if I didn’t at least try, I’d regret it. So, heart pounding, I walked up to him and introduced myself. I told him I’d recently bought a house in the area, and this was my first Christmas tree lighting, and I wanted to see if I had the courage to walk up to a nice looking man and say hello. So… hello.

He thanked me. He said his name was Neal. He said I’d probably see him around. And that was that.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Men aren’t used to being pounced on, especially at our age. And if he’d have been able to switch gears that smoothly, and ask me for coffee or something, I’d have been shocked. (But I probably would have gone. And I don’t even drink coffee.)

Ah well. I tried. And I’m proud of me for that. Life goes on. This loneliness blanket that settles upon my shoulders is actually kind of soft and warm after all these years.

At least I’m putting myself out there. Next on the agenda: The Great Figgy Pudding caroling competition with my friend Amy, and then Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, the musical, by myself.

Do me a favor. On Christmas morning, remind me of three things: How much money I’ve spent on myself, how much fun I’ve had, and most of all, how lucky I am to have so many awesome people in my life, even if they aren’t there on those red letter days.

(But don’t be surprised if I still go to bed before midnight on New Year’s Eve.)


A book about gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Grieving through the Holidays

If you’ve lost someone you love, the holidays can be a particularly painful time. All those memories. All those traditions. All those people, still alive, who insist that you to carry on all those traditions.

How can you be expected to decorate a tree when every ornament reminds you of the person you’ve lost? And it takes so much energy to put on a brave face at family gatherings. I know more than a few people this year who were forced to retreat to the bathroom to weep.

There is a great deal of pressure at this time of the year to be joyful. That makes your utter lack of joy feel even worse. And no one wants you to figuratively (or literally) pee in their eggnog. “Can’t you see we’re trying to fa la la here? Don’t ruin it!”

And then there are the well-meaning gifts, designed to memorialize the one who is gone. They were given in a spirit of love and support, but they feel like little stabs to your already wounded heart. No one knows the right thing to say or do, because there is no right thing to say or do.

Even in a good year, the holidays can be exhausting. But they seem positively soul-sucking when you’re dragging around a tractor trailer of depression. It makes you feel detached at a time when everyone is coming together.

For me, it’s like having to take a huge breath and plunge into the ocean, in hopes of coming back to the surface again before you drown. That was Thanksgiving. That was Christmas. That was my birthday. What a relief to get through it all and come up for air!

One more to go… the dreaded New Year’s midnight, when no one will be kissing me. I’m supposed to overlook the fact that I’m completely and utterly alone. I’m supposed to feel happy for everyone who is being kissed. I’m supposed to look forward to the new year, and feel nostalgic about the past year.

That’s a heck of a lot to ask. I’ll probably try to go to bed at 11 pm and hope the neighborhood revelry doesn’t wake me up. While you sing Auld Lang Syne, I’ll be trying really hard to pretend it’s any other night.

If you know people who are grieving, ask them what they’d like to do or not do for the holidays. Ask them what they want to talk about or not talk about. Don’t apply pressure. If they are ready, offer to help them create a whole new tradition, perhaps one in which dancing and romance aren’t flaunted.

But most of all, be patient. And don’t force your fa la la on them until they can get through it without weeping in the bathroom.


Even in the face of grief, there are things to be grateful for. Check out my book on that very subject. http://amzn.to/2cCHgUu