We Wouldn’t be Fathers Without Mothers

As my wife would say, everything’s not about you. And making sure we don’t miss the point, it is Mother’s Day today. Father’s, your day is coming. Today is mother’s day and I will be the first to tell you how much you are appreciated. You are often the glue that holds the family together. You are the car pool driver, the nurse, the comforter, and the support network your children need. And you hold one other very important role, you are the sole reason we are fathers.

Okay fathers, we may think we are the important person in the family, but our role doesn’t exist without mothers. Without mothers, we would have no to do lists to get done. There would be no one in the passenger seat to tell me all the driving mistakes and laws I am breaking. There would be no one to tell me to get directions. No one to repeat all the directions my navigator is already telling me, by the way, thank you whoever that alluring voice is in my navigator. There would be no one to be the person I always told my child to go ask for permission. No one to remind me it’s not all about me.

Without mother’s, or even surrogate mothers, we would never get to be fathers. I would never get to hold the child she gave me in labor, that she carried for nine months, that she nurtured long before I even met them. I would never have gotten to play catch with, to sing Karaoke with, to yell support to her as I watched from the bleachers, or to put my arm around her as she sobbed after a rejection or just a bad game, all the while telling her life wasn’t always going to be fair. To answer the hard questions and sometimes the really tough ones, or just to worry about her on every date and every new boyfriend.

Today is a day to honor mothers. If you needed another reason to appreciate her, I hope this message gave you one. You just wouldn’t be a father if not for a mother.

I Didn’t Do Anything

I lead a comfortable life. I am able to be charitable, to travel freely, and to not struggle with the necessities of life. I believe that I have been successful in work and life. Recently, I tried to look back on the things that I have accomplished and came to the realization that there wasn’t a single one that I could identify as something I did alone. That the accomplishment was mine and mine alone. What I actually came to realize was that those things were always accomplished through the combined efforts of the people I have surrounded myself with.

Throughout my life I have always had people I could lean on for support. When I was young, it was coaches, teachers, and my dad. As I aged and entered the workforce, my support network were co-workers more experienced than me, and mentors so willing to lend advice. Multiple co-teachers were there to assist in the projects I was developing, to give advice and at time to be my promotors. In my years as a teacher, I had invaluable teaching assistants to ease the burden of my often overloaded classroom. When I entered the private sector, I had experienced co-workers who shared their knowledge and skill with me while assisting in the plans I was developing for my clients. At work I was surrounded by an incredible support staff who took my ideas and strategies and did the paperwork to make them working plans. And in my personal life, I had my partner in marriage to do the social and family planning that kept me on track and motivated. As she would tell you, without her it is doubtful that I would have ever showed up anywhere on time or possibly not at all.

My point is that what we accomplish in life is always a collaborative effort. We are never alone if we know where to look. That said, it is so important for us to acknowledge those people in life who are part of our team. I ask people to avoid using the word “just” when they describe what they do. Who was the most important person in a successful, possibly life saving, surgery? Was it the surgeon, or was it the nurse who prepped the patient? Or, was it the person who collected the garbage outside of the surgeon’s home so that he could concentrate on the surgery and not whether the trash was picked up? I would contend that each person involved at any level in the process, shares in the success of the outcome.

I am the cumulative result of all of the people in my life who shared in the process that has led to my successes. Hopefully at least a few of them are reading this and know that they are appreciated and loved for the impact they have had on my life and the things we have done, together. I didn’t do anything, alone.

The Christmas Letters

It is five days until Christmas Eve. I have purchased my gifts, the few I actually purchase. I have even wrapped them and actually put name tags on them. My wife has always been frustrated with me for having to tell everyone to whom the gifts I wrapped must go on Christmas morning. I am ahead of the game this year though I am unsure of why that is.

The main gifts I give to my family each year are actually letters of affirmation given to each of my daughters, their husbands, my grandchildren, and of course my wife. I try to include a memory in each letter that brings the affirmation into focus. This process was started a long time ago when my oldest daughter turned sixteen. Soon my younger daughter was looking for her letter and before I knew it, I was writing letters for each of their birthdays and Christmas. As family members were added, they were also included. Though I love to write, just as I am doing right now, keeping those letters fresh and more importantly, meaningful, is no easy task. This is especially true at Christmas when they all come due at once. As the date approaches, I start looking for excuses to end this process and just call it a wrap, but then I am reminded of how important they have become to each of the recipients, my younger daughter’s spouse actually used the letters I had written for him over the years to ask me for her hand in marriage, and so I begin to write.

The amazing thing about this process is how easily the words flow once I begin each letter. Before I know it, the letter has written itself. The beauty of this whole thing is the incredible feeling of peace it gives me. The chance to share the pride I have for each of them, the love and respect I feel for each of them, and the chance to reminisce with a memory, makes it all so rewarding. And then there is the satisfaction of watching them pour over them Christmas morning. One Christmas, intending to measure the expectation, I pretended to have forgotten to write them. The outcry was a rather rewarding experience. And so I continue to write.

My letters this year are all written, last one was finished just last night. As always, it was a very satisfying endeavor. Now I wait anxiously to see how they will be received Christmas morning. Whether you are a seasoned writer, a reluctant one, or even a hack, I encourage you to adopt some form of this project. Life flies by too fast for us to not acknowledge its passing with some form of milepost. Mine has been these letters, each one representing a blink in time. It really does seem like it was just yesterday when I wrote that first letter to my then sixteen year old daughter. Christmas morning her seven year old son and her four year old daughter will open theirs. I am so glad that each year I can be sure that they will be looking for the next one.

One last thought, as the father of two strong willed daughters, these letters are sometimes the only chance for me to get a word in edgewise. Think about it.

Watch Your Back, It Ain’t Over Yet

Just when you think you’ve done everything right, the other shoe drops. That is exactly where I was a little over three weeks ago. I had both vaccinations and my booster. I had masked everywhere I was asked to and even in some places it hadn’t been required. I stayed six feet away from virtually everyone and had played the game of chicken every time I was out for a walk, most of the time being the first to veer off to the street. In short, I had followed the rules. A day after receiving my booster, I attended a meeting and forty eight hours later, the first symptoms began. Of course at the time, I was in denial. This was just another seasonal cold and I would be better by morning. But morning came and more symptoms appeared and by nightfall it was clear that something more was going on. The next morning I got tested, as I am sure you all have at some point during this pandemic, out of caution or maybe a little fear. By that evening my taste was gone and I spent a sleepless night fighting a fever and anxiously awaiting my test results. “Your Covid-19 Test results: POSITIVE.” I read that email multiple times, willing it to change to negative or at least “sort of positive”, but every time I opened the email, the message was depressingly the same. It was 5:30 in the morning and calling the people I had been with, would have to wait till at least dawn. I had dutifully made the list the night before in preparation for the calls I now would have to make. Thankfully it was a short list, but they were people who were so very important in my life, a couple who are among our best friends, my daughter and son-in-law, as well as our two grandchildren, and of course my wife who upon hearing the results, asked me to read the email a few hundred times more.

Let’s talk about the Covid-19 cycle of emotions that I , and I assume most people who have experienced this, went through; Guilt – Shame – Frustration / Fear – Anger

Guilt, the first emotion. I am now about to call people I love, to tell them that I have contracted this beast and that because we were together during that period of time when I may have been shedding the virus, they should probably be tested. I also have to call the organizer of the courses I am scheduled to teach starting in three days. Schedules will need to be rearranged, delayed, or possibly cancelled. I am now impacting hundreds of people scheduled to attend these sessions. But lest I lose focus, it is the loved ones I was with whom I might have unwittingly infected that weighs on me the most. I will now anxiously await the results of their tests.

Shame, the next emotion to deal with. This is a very publicized plague. We have been told time and time again that it shows no favorites. None the less, I am now ashamed. What did I do wrong or what did I not do enough of? How could I have been more diligent and avoided this? No matter what people who find out are telling me, this shame runs deep.

Frustration was my next emotion and at least this helped to reduce some of the guilt and shame. I HAD done everything right, or at least as right as humanly possible. I should have waited at least a few days before attending that meeting in person. I could have given it a bit more time to boost up my immunity. For me this was just frustration, the symptoms were far reduced from what they could have been had I not been vaccinated and I was already beginning to feel a bit better by the time I reached day three. For others, less fortunate, the frustration would have been replaced by fear. I couldn’t do much other than to be isolated in my own home and this lack of ability to be “normal” was frustrating.

Eventually, one reaches the final stage. As I began to regain my strength and even had some of my taste start to return, the anger sets in. Why did this happen, and why did it happen to me? Is there a responsibly irresponsible individual out there who gave this gift to me? And why is this pandemic hanging on in the first place? Isn’t it getting tired of closing businesses, laying off employees, filling hospital beds, killing hundreds of thousands? Anger, if controlled, expressed without action, can be at least cathartic. In my case, it at least reduced the stranglehold the other emotions had on me. I might be able to heal, both inside and out.

But it is time to switch gears. It has been just over three weeks and I am feeling much better, but far more importantly, no one around me, none of my loved ones, none of my friends were infected. Within a day, thanks to rapid testing, everyone’s tests came back negative. What a huge relief. I can’t imagine the alternative. Maybe now there might even be room for a little humor. When this first came on and I had lost my taste, my daughter teased me. I have not had a sense of smell since I was thirty years old, none, nada. Her thought was how about maybe the virus doesn’t have a vested interest in whether it’s turning smell off or on, just flipping the switch. Great possibility, but not the reality. Still no smell. And please, spare me the “if you can’t smell, then” ideas. Pretty sure I’ve heard them all and I will add this, when it came to changing my children’s diapers, I may not have had the joy of smell, but I wasn’t blind and the mind can be very creative.

So that you don’t worry about my sense of humor recovering, I thought I’d leave you with the following:

Five things I mastered thanks to the Pandemic

 1. How to coordinate your mask with your wardrobe. This is important as no one wants to see a less than stylish look and would rather have it be, at its finest, a statement piece. I may have to make a point of attending masked balls in the future just to get use out of my extensive mask collection. Shout out to Annette for getting mine started.

 2. Corona Virus and Corona Beer are two different things. You don’t have to taste test here, trust me. I, like so many others, after month two of the pandemic, wondered if and when Corona Beer would change its name.

3. How to Zoom, Google Meet, and Go Webinar Workshop like a pro. Remember the early days of the pandemic, when the two statements uttered over and over were, “you’re muted Frank” and “for God’s sake, put some pants on.”

 4. How to celebrate Christmas with the family in the driveway and make it look natural.  As one Jimmy Buffet song goes, “it’s twenty degrees and the hockey games on.” Thanks to a patio heater I drove a hundred miles to obtain (the last one they had), we managed to last three hours before we broke up the festivities and sent our two daughter’s families back to their nice warm homes. Here the shout out goes to Eli whose very useful and much used firepit still resides on our patio.

And #5….How to measure six feet accurate to within an inch without the use of a ruler. Pretty much speaks for itself!

I am hoping my readers have stayed healthy and that maybe, just maybe, you are enjoying Thanksgiving at home, inside, warm, and with your family. And for that matter, anyone else in your bubble. Stay safe, but find ways to keep enjoying life.

Maybe Covid-19 Wasn’t All That Bad

We should always look for the silver lining, and when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I started thinking today about all the changes Covid-19 brought about and I started to realize that as bad as the pandemic was, there were things I accomplished. I finally got that Little Library built. During the pandemic, it became my wife’s total focus. We now have neighborhood children putting in book requests to their favorite librarian, Ms. Debi. The treat bags and notes ay have something to do with her popularity.

And there are all the things I learned, useful things. Top on the list would be Zoom. Before Covid-19, I would resist Skype calls, Duo calls, and any other virtual calls. Then came the pandemic and suddenly, virtual meetings, virtual gatherings, even virtual game nights, became the norm. I am proud to say, I am now a Zoom, Google Meets, and Microsoft Teams wizard. Seems strange to say I am a virtual expert. Does that mean, not really, just imaginary?

Another learned process, making wearing a mask a fashion statement. I admit that when it started, I wasn’t too stylish. But as time went on we all got pretty clever and fashionable. We wore masks sporting our favorite logos, coordinated our masks with our ensemble, and even found ways to make them almost sexy. I for one, sort of miss donning my various masks now that I have been vaccinated. Thanks to Covid-19’s mask wearing mandates, I will be better prepared to rob a bank if I ever decide to go rogue.

And then there is the improvements to my office décor. Pre pandemic, I hadn’t really thought about my shelves. Once I started Zooming (is that a word?), I started seeing it as my backdrop on my zoom calls. Time to clean up my act. Off to storage, went a lot of the memorabilia, unread books, and just piles of paper and files. Thank you Covid-19!, my office is quite impressive these days.

Six feet used to be a rough estimate that was anywhere from way too short to ridiculously long. A couple of months of pandemic rules, and I can now nail six feet to within a couple inches. I feel like a walking ruler. Want to know how long that putt was?, I got it. Need that board cut to six feet?, leave that tape measure in your tool belt. Admit it, how many times during the last year did you find yourself moving that extra three inches to put six feet between you and that other person.

There were a lot of other little lessons learned. I have now mastered the art of separating the wafer section from the wine pod in those little communion cups. I discovered that you can actually party outside in the middle of winter with snow falling as long as you have that fire pit going and the now all important patio heater. I actually drove seventy-five miles to a Lowes to find mine. I am even looking forward to this fall when I can fire it back up and party. I might even invite more than ten people.

I know it wasn’t at all good, but it wasn’t all bad either. I have developed skills that were clearly lacking and as an added bonus, I now know every dog and every dog walker in the neighborhood. Admittedly, I will see if I recognize them without their masks.

And one final observation, it seems that as we learned to stand six feet apart, we somehow all grew a little closer.

Becoming a Dad

I became a father on April 21, 1984. Bailey was born that morning after a long previous day and night of waiting for her. We had to make a decision that morning to continue trying or to consider a C Section delivery. That decision was taken away when it became clear we had to do an emergency surgery to bring Bailey into our world.

At the time, becoming a father was a scary thing. I was worried that I would not be a good father. I thought I might be ill prepared for the role and thus not able to do what was needed to be the father Bailey would need. This was a huge responsibility I was about to take on and was I willing to make the life style changes that it would require. As I look back on that fear, I realize how selfish that was. I was more concerned about me than what I actually needed to be concerned about.

The surgery was successful and within moments of the delivery, Bailey was in my arms and my world and my worries changed. In that moment, as her tiny hand found my finger, my world became her world and I transitioned from worried father to fully engaged dad. It now all made sense. To be a father simply took the act, but being a dad was a gift that was bestowed upon you by that moment you connected with the life you had helped create. Of course my life would change. I had a whole new person to share it with. That fear of responsibility was replaced by the excitement of being part of a whole new journey.

I spent the next several hours bonding with and falling in love with our little baby girl as my wife recovered from the surgery. These were precious moments that shaped the rest of my relationship, moments where I learned the difference between being a father and being a dad. By the time my wife was able to hold our child, her life was all ready being mapped out. She would be given adventures to make her strong. She would be given opportunities to grow in every possible way.  She would be given support in whatever choices she made. She would be loved.

Seven years later, my wife and I would welcome the birth of our second child, this time by natural delivery but no less dramatic. I would be given a chance to do it all again and this time to help my older daughter become the big sister. Kathryn was welcomed into our world on April 26, 1991 and just as her sister became part of our plans, so too did Kathryn become part of our family plans. Like her sister before her, she would be encouraged to find her own space, to be part of our adventures, to be loved for who she was and would become. To be honest, I think Kathryn took her role to be the one who would make the adventures bigger.

It is with purpose that I have recounted this story on Father’s Day. It was and will always be my greatest honor to have been a father who understands what it takes to be a dad.

Reflections on Time

We go through decades in our lives. If you are reading this, you’ve gone through at least one. In that first decade we learn a lot, some would argue most, of what we will need to survive our remaining decades. We learn that hot things can hurt. That counting will help us figure out how far we still need to go, though asking the question “are we there yet” holds a lot of pleasure for the questioner. We figure out that food comes in an incredible variety of forms and delivery systems and that we are often forced to eat some of the foods even though we don’t like them. We hopefully learn to play nice and to vow to practice that in the decades to come every chance we get and with everyone we meet even when they haven’t learned this lesson as well.

In our second decade, we anxiously await our teens and when we finally achieve them, we have no idea what to do with them, especially the hormones. We hopefully learn to drive, though it is becoming questionable whether future generations will ever need to drive the car at all. In the last part of the decade, we get to vote which is all too often filled with disappointment, sometimes even when our candidate wins. Make no mistake here, you still need to vote. No vote means you are only allowed to be disappointed. And as that second decade comes to an end, you are given the keys to adulthood and the admonition “go get a job kid cause you’re on your own”. Ah the sweet smell of freedom and the lure of the wild.

Decade three starts the trip of wonder. We wonder about everything as we wander through our twenties. We try out our wild side, three hours of sleep and a recovery plan seem perfectly natural. We figure out our tolerance for risk, and generally amass the mistakes we will refer to in our later decades as lessons learned. This is the decade where we will explore our sexuality (god I miss that, but maybe not), decide to decide what we might be, and as we approach the end of the decade, come to the realization that this was the decade when we actually grew up.

Thirties, these are the years we re-find and re-define ourselves, not that it is the final time we will do that. We either find our soul mate or decide that we would rather fly solo. We settle down, maybe even buy a house and, if we are up to it, make it a home. It is during our thirties that we will likely start our families. It is the decade where we will claim we left our wild days behind, no matter how wild we still remain.

Our fifth decade is the decade we will look back on and want a mulligan. Not because we messed up, but because it was the decade we played young people’s games and held grown up jobs. We were in our prime and still full of energy, energy we likely needed to deal with our children. We make actual grown up decisions and start building our bucket lists.

Then comes our sixth decade. We come to the realization that like it or not, our wealth determines both our success and status all the while learning that it still can’t really buy happiness. We learn that money can buy us time and maybe offer more choices, but happiness comes from the people around us and our connection to family and friends. We start to spend a little too much time with the “what ifs” and the “if onlys”. We start counting our gray hairs and spending time trying to look once more like we did a decade earlier. If we are lucky, as we approach the end of this decade, we start to appreciate who we are and the person we have become. We may even accept who we are as the better version of who we were.

Decade number seven brings you the respect of age and the realization that your journey through the first six decades have left you tagged as “experienced”. Experience somehow equates to wisdom and wisdom redefines you as a commodity. Your children refer to other people your age as “old” but not you, and all it took to earn that dignity was paying for a college education or two or three and being there through every crisis they faced on their journey through the earlier decades. This is the decade you will likely experiment with retirement as a title. And, if all has worked out, you will travel and start checking off some of the more possible things on your very long bucket list.

And that brings me to tonight at midnight. It is upon that momentous tick of the minute hand that I will enter my next decade. I cannot tell you what it will hold or how it will define me but I enter it knowing certain truths. I am a better version of the me I have sometimes been. I have in fact learned from the mistakes I have made and have applied them to my decisions that followed. I feel good, even valued for the help I have given to those I have met along the way. I have raised, with the help of their mother, two beautiful successful daughters. I have been blessed to be part of the lives of two equally impressive, uniquely inquisitive, challengingly energetic grandchildren of whom I am so incredibly fond. Do I wish I could be forty something again, of course, but then all these things that I am so grateful for would not have happened yet and possibly wouldn’t. I will not trade what I have for a what if. I am possibly and finally content.

By the time you read this I will have crossed the milepost and will be beginning my 70th trip around the sun. Send me no gifts for all I ask is that you take the time to think about the decades YOU have crossed and vow to make the next one just a little better than the last. Promise to do one more good deed than the last time. Help one more person than before and look for the good in the people around you so they may see the good in you.

The Christmas Carol

Thanks to the pandemic cancelling the usual Christmas Season get togethers, my wife and I have had a lot of time to watch movies. I will admit that many of them have been Hallmark or Hallmark inspired films. If you follow my blog, you will undoubtely have seen my attempt at writing a Hallmark script. Still no word from Hallmark as to when they might consider making that one. We have also made sure to include the classics in our watch list. To that end, we have already checked off Holiday Inn, (appalled at the racial undertones), White Christmas, The Santa Claus, and last night’s movie, The Christmas Carol.

The Christmas Carol holds special meaning for me. This was the movie I would fall asleep to in my dad’s arms Christmas Eve. Later in life it became the movie during which my children would do the same thing with me. It was a important part of my family’s traditions and became a big part of my daughters’ traditions. Some day I hope to make it a tradition with my grandchildren. For this reason, The Christmas Carol is by far my favorite Christmas movie and in truth one of my all time favorite movies of any genre. There are many versions of this movie and rightfully so because it is such a classic. Through the years, it has been remade countless times, but fortunately the message has remained basically unchanged. Though I have several versions that I favor, due to a fear of having to debate their merit with my readers and thus missing the point of this blog, I will tell you I watched YOUR favorite version last night, whichever one that was.

What is it that makes this movie so classic? I suppose we could credit the author of the book it is derived from, Charles Dickens. That alone would make it classic. But it is the message that sets it apart and makes Christmas time its perfect setting. The movie tells the tale of how the lure of riches had led a person to a complete lack of empathy for his fellow man, leaving him empty and angry. As the Spirits of Christmas past, present, and future revealed the flaws of Ebenezer Scrooge’s choices, it reminds us of the importance of the decisions we make. As Scrooge faces the darkest possible endings to his life’s legacy, he utters these words: “Are these the shadows of things that WILL BE or are they the shadows of what MAY BE?” He clings to a potential redemption hidden between the lines of the answer; if things remain unchanged then these shadows will remain unaltered. There was that hope that if he could change, then perhaps the past could be erased and those shadows coud be altered.

This movie offers a message of hope for us all. It is its redemptive nature that inspires us to become the best version of ourselves. Whether we are satisfied with the life we have fashioned or whether we wish for more, we can always improve as long as we alter those behaviors of the past. No matter my mood going into the viewing of this movie, I always emerge from it renewed and filled with hope that not only can I change, but so can the people around me and the conditions we all live in. There has never been a year where we need this message more than this one. The year 2020 has been determined to leave us divided, distressed and anxious. We face the economic stress and the general fear generated by the pandemic. We face a culture of continued racism, some blatant, some covert, that leaves us divided and less than the great country we should be. We generally question our ability to accomplish a collective effort to make things better, all too often failing to take even the first steps we could and need to as individuals.

The Christmas Carol reminds me that I can change; that we can change. We can be better for the collective whole, but first we must be part of the change. We must vow to not waste any message of hope. We must act on that hope, individually to start and then collectively to continue. 2020 does not have to be the shadow of things to come but rather a reason to make the changes that will make 2021 the year we heal. Christmas is a season of hope and renewal, a reminder that the past is the past and that the future has not yet been written.

So go get your favorite beverage, maybe pop some popcorn, and then put on a DVD of the movie or find it on streaming, but view The Christmas Carol through my eyes and pledge to be the Spirit of Christmas Future.

Still so much to be thankful for

There will be no Thanksgiving family gathering this year. No real Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. No little feet running around our house emptying the toy box all over the great room. No toasts at the dining room table. And yes, no dropping of the apple crisp on the driveway. That would be a little inside family story for another time. The dinner will be replaced with a zoom family gathering, air hugs and a hope that things will change soon. Soon being a relative word.

In this year of the pandemic things have had to change. Traditions had to be put off for now and our routines have been anything but routine. In that setting, how can there be anything to be thankful for? That’s the challenge. In a year where nothing has been normal, where masks became a necessity and not just part of a Halloween costume, where travel plans have become “should we staycation in the kitchen or the living room?”, where a sneeze comes close to clearing the room, how can we find something for which to express our thankfulness?

I’ve been thinking about this for quite sometime; ever since my wife and I returned from an island trip in March. We returned to the states on March 13th, just as the pandemic, that thing in China, became our pandemic. I remember thinking this would be a short inconvenience and that all our summer plans would be just fine. That was then. Now we wonder if next summer’s plans will be altered. I for one don’t believe they will. Call it optimism, but that’s one of the things I am thankful for, but I will save that thought for now.

I do have things to be thankful for, our family is still intact. There were a few scares this year and my daughter and her fiancée did have to cancel their wedding, for now, but we have made the best of our family quarantine bubble and still managed some visits, limited, but still we got some time together. I am thankful that I have two beautiful, successful daughters who have chosen great men to be their partners. Two incredible grandchildren who never cease to amaze and amuse me. A wonderful wife who has been by my side for forty plus years and who has been my quarantine release and Amazon Prime binge watching date these past eight months. I am thankful for finally having the time to finish projects that have sat, sometimes for years, waiting to be tackled. They smile back at us every time we use or relax upon them.

I am thankful that we have rediscovered close to home destinations as airplane flights gave way to road trips, as exotic trips gave way to local parks, and, as hotel stays gave way to cottage days. I am thankful for so many things that I had started to take for granted. In our isolation, our world got smaller and we realized that there were so many amazing sites and scenes literally in our back yards. And I am thankful for my neighbors. With all the walks necessity made us take, I rediscovered my own neighborhood and the friendly people who lived inside those houses, the reason we chose this neighborhood in the first place.

I am thankful that the election is finally over. The painful political fighting, the divisiveness that any election creates, and all those irritating political ads we were subjected to, done, over and gone. Hopefully we can move on and find common ground and better causes to expend our efforts and resources on. And then there’s the vaccine, in fact the vaccines plural. This is not just a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s an honest hope for an exit from this isolation, soon. But most of all, I am thankful for the optimism. Though we sometime feel we can’t go on much longer, we always find some hope (the vaccine), some new way to do something (virtual learning, meetings and gatherings), some collective ways to pull together for a solution (healthcare workers and teachers). We are an innovative bunch. Setbacks are just forks in the road. We assess our problems, make our choice, and move on. We don’t live in the past but instead learn from the mistakes and vow to correct those that we can and set a new course to avoid the ones we can’t. I am thankful for that kind of optimism and the opportunities that it creates.

Thanksgiving won’t be the same this year, but it’s not gone and certainly not dead. We will find new ways to celebrate, to gather safely, to protect each other. We will find the things to be thankful for as long as we are willing to look for them, to recognize them, and to use them to give us the ultimate thing to be thankful for; HOPE.

Air hug your family, visit, if even just virtually, count your blessings and make a list of the things you are thankful for. You just might surprise yourself with the length of the list.

Happy Thanksgiving in the Year of the Pandemic. Look at it this way, we have at least made history.

I Need a Drink

When this is all over, this Coronavirus thing, I need a drink. Not that I can’t have one in my home and not that I haven’t. Just last night, with the temperature dropping toward the upper 30’s, my wife and I set up lawn chairs, six feet apart, invited our neighbors, no more than four, to set up their chairs, six feet away, and we shivered through a COVID 19 style cocktail party. For now this appears to be the norm for social gatherings. Save for the strange process of passing ten feet to the right and waving to anyone you meet on your walk, all other interaction has been relegated to the internet. I have zoomed and duo-ed to the point of being a disinterested third party and have listened to every classic song sung to new lyrics on Facebook. I have avoided the news like a, well…. plague, and finished my house projects well ahead of their time. I am a little worried I’ll end up creating a to do list for my neighbor’s house.

So back to my opening tirade. When this is over, I am going to spend every chance I get going out to eat in crowded, noisy restaurants. Going to drinking establishments, be they bars, saloons or even corner taverns where I can watch sports on their wall to wall TVs all the while talking to total strangers about everything and anything while sitting mere inches away from my newest friends. Isolation can be a good thing for introverts and for flattening the curve, but for me an extra extrovert, it is becoming a death sentence. Death by isolation. I saw a Facebook rendition of Adele’s “Hello” sung to COVID 19 lyrics and I totally identified. The only difference being that the singer had abandoned even the act of wearing pants while I still have mine on, at least at this point. Check in on me in another two weeks of this, and I might have followed suit or the lack of. Apologies for that visual.

There is a point here, isn’t there always? The economy is going to need an incredible boost when this is over. I for one am going to cease on-line shopping for at least a little while. I will avoid take-out where possible and I will do anything in my power to single handedly drag the economy back from the edge. I will never again complain about a crowded restaurant or a noisy bar. I will drink in the ambiance of foo foo boutiques and volunteer to go to grocery stores and even go shopping with my wife.

These are desperate times. In short, I need the old normal…..I need a drink…..preferable with friends…..lots of friends…..maybe friends with hugs.