The Letter I Meant to Send: Holiday 2021
At this time last year, I was basically immobile. With a torn tendon in my leg and facing surgery with a possible six-month recovery, I was doing my best to ensure surgery wouldn’t be necessary by staying off the leg as much as possible. I didn’t spend hours on my feet cooking dinner—I ordered everything in. My husband took care of the other details while I stayed on the couch or in the bed, alternating thermal wraps with rest and collagen-building supplements.
It was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had.
Dear friends sent us both grocery deliveries and money for meals so no one would have to cook. We stayed home and didn’t have to rush anywhere, just enjoyed being together, having our traditional monkey bread and hot cider in the morning and the delicious BBQ feast we’d picked up the day before for our Christmas dinner, along with a Buche de Noel we’d ordered from the local bakery.
This year, we’ll recreate it to the extent that we’re staying home—this time because of COVID—and I’ve ordered in the Buche de Noel again. However, I’ve been cooking for the last several days. Yesterday, I made ham for my in-laws. I also made and delivered dinner and dessert to a friend and her family who were in a similar situation as mine last year. I wanted to pass along all the kindness I’ve received, to pay forward last Christmas as much as possible. I revel in the fact that I can do this because last year I could not. I’m so thankful for all that’s brought me here, and I hope I can continue in the New Year as I’ve begun.
I think 2020 and 2021 are forever going to be linked—an elephantine gestation—in my mind. I have no good division for them except that for part of 2020 I couldn’t walk and slowly over the year I managed to walk up to two miles at one go. I’d like to get to more. I’d like to hike again. We’ll see what 2022 brings.
Still, 2021 had so many lovely things about it, even if they seemed to blur into 2020. We watched the kittens we adopted last Thanksgiving grow into big cuddly boys. We took a short family trip to Williamsburg and Jamestown in April—the first such trip we’d taken in a while. Jupiter danced in a special Mandalorian ballet in the spring. Doomlet got a perfect score on her Virginia Studies SOL test.
Determined to make use of everything I could, I made elderflower cordial, elderberry tincture, and froze wineberries and bush cherries all summer. We didn’t grow a garden, focusing instead on growing more chickens and ducks. I took up beekeeping again after several years off. The first hive failed, but the second hive is still going strong thus far.
In the summer, Doomlet reconnected with a childhood friend whom she hadn’t seen since age 2. It was a reunion that had been in the works for years. To see them play together completed a deep circle. And it was soul-soothing to be in Asheville again, a place I’ve come to love dearly.
When the children returned to school, it was deceptively easy to feel like things were normal, even if they weren’t. I was so surprised at how emotional I became when the children could at last receive their vaccinations—I’d thought I had very little emotion left, but I was wrong.
We took an impromptu trip over fall break to our beloved Outer Banks, spending our time at the Pirate Jamboree on Ocracoke and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, walking down to the beach. We hadn’t been there since 2018 and seeing the ocean in all its majesty again left me awestruck. Trick-or-treating in Hatteras was among one of the best Halloween experiences we’ve had.
Doomlet played soccer again for the first time in two years and loved it even more than ever. Jupiter continued to dance, once again performing at the Nutcracker. Being back in school was both challenging and fulfilling for them—for Jupiter, it’s been the first somewhat normal school year he’s experienced.
In another unexpected move in November, I adopted a 5 month-old kitten for myself. He has brought so much happiness and healed the part of my heart that still mourned my beloved kitty Pepito. I’ve not regretted it for a moment and was so glad I could give him a home when all other options had already been exhausted for him. It does make life a little crowded with a dog and three cats again, but
apparently I cannot be happy unless I’m tripping over something underfoot.
Professionally, I’ve spent a lot of time gathering my strength to launch my indie publishing venture next year. I’ve taken classes on publishing and organization, broken the novel I’d finished into a trilogy and written 20K brand new words, hired a cover artist and received the covers. I've written essays, novellas, and short stories. I’ve been reading again (reading fiction was near-impossible during most of 2020--I still don’t understand why). I continued teaching at Southern New Hampshire University in the online MFA program and for part of the year worked for Tachyon as a publicist for their children’s books. And here at the very end of the year, I’ve received an invitation to teach a workshop at Once and Future Fantasies at the University of Glasgow in Scotland in July. It was the first piece of good news I’d had in a while and I’m so excited to mingle with people again hopefully in Summer 2022.
While there is much I’m worried about, I’m choosing to focus on what I want to bring into the world rather than how the state of the world is meant to make me feel. I’m focusing on how best I can use my gifts to nurture the vision I have of my life and how I can heal the broken spaces. I can’t fix everything, but I can keep showing up in my little corner with what I have to give. That's really all I can do.
I hope your holidays are merry and bright and that you keep bringing the light as best you can.