In an act of foolhardiness, we decided to go to Hawaii for Christmas. This was foolhardy for several reasons: first, Hawaii has imposed some stringent covid testing requirements in order to be permitted to come; second, there were no non-stop flights to Honolulu due to the lack of flights, which added another wild card to the equation; and, third, we would have to be masked for the entire set of flights.
We decided to rent a house, feeling that it would be safer, especially for Jim’s mom, who was coming as well. It was a beautiful house in the Portlock area, right on the water, with plenty of space for everyone.
Hawaii’s testing requirements were that you have to have a negative covid test within 72 hours of your departing flight to Hawaii from an approved partner. We ended up taking 2 different tests from 2 different partners. Jim received his negative test on Thursday morning, but the rest of us didn’t receive our test results until late Thursday night (our flight to Honolulu left Friday morning). It was rather stressful. But at least we were all negative!
It was a very different trip to Honolulu than any of our others. We rarely left the house, other than to exercise or go grocery shopping. Jim and I did our traditional 7 mile walk around Diamondhead every morning at oh-dark-thirty. (Hawaii is the only place where I am a morning person, and that’s only because we don’t generally bother to change time zones.) We “rented” surfboards (and it’s in quotes because the surf shop actually just lent the surfboards to us without charge), and Marcus went out surfing every day.
Yinan and I taught everyone how to play mahjong, and we now have mahjong addicts as children. Yay for parenting!
The weather was sunny and 80 degrees every day except for the day we left. Not a bad way to spend Christmas!
As with everything this year, Thanksgiving was a little different than usual. Instead of the usual 20+ guests crowd, we had 11 people total, 9 adults. Everyone had tested negative before they arrived. (The new prerequisite: don’t bring a side dish or flowers—bring a negative test result.) Cooking Thanksgiving dinner for 11 is barely cooking Thanksgiving dinner at all. It was a surprisingly unstressful experience. We actually ran out of things to do at around 4:00 pm that day. Our Thanksgiving menu is as follows:
Whatever the constraints, it is still a holiday that celebrates thankfulness and gratitude. We are indeed fortunate in our lives, and in this year of all years, we feel grateful for our many blessings.
We all have times when our preferred action is to crawl into a dark hole and never come out again. Grey skies and cold, dreary weather makes us even more likely to burrow. In “Wintering,” the author offers us solace for our desire to burrow deeply and the reassurance that we will at some point want to return to daylight. It is a perfect book for these times. The author reaches her nadir at a time when she and her husband both have health problems and her son is having difficulty coping at school. In learning to deal with these issues, the author explores how different cultures cope with physical darkness, wondering if there is a metaphor between physical darkness and metaphorical darkness. She embarks on an interesting journey, full of cultural exploration, contemplation, and coping mechanisms. In the end, the reassurance the author offers is that such dark times are a normal part of life and a cyclical journey. Eventually, you emerge from your hole and discover that the sun still shines and joy still abounds in the world. In times like this, it is worth being reminded of this truth and in beautifully rendered prose at that.
Because Marcus (wisely) decided to take a gap year instead of attending college in the fall, we decided that his birthday needed celebrating and what better place to celebrate someone’s birthday than at Disneyworld? Disney felt very safe with hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations everywhere, socially distanced lines, and everyone masked. (And when someone—usually an adult—wasn’t masked, a cast member was always quick to remind them.) There were some constraints (no park hopping and no Fastpasses) and not everything was open, but we rode all of the rides we wanted to ride and then some. We even managed to get on The Rise of the Resistance our first day there. And, of course, a Darth Maul lightsaber was a must have as a birthday gift. Marcus even discovered the perfect Magic Band for himself—it’s a Stitch in Hawaii band, combining two of his favorite things. Disney, even under the constraints it was operating under, is still the happiest place on earth.
We had a high school senior last year, and graduation in June happened virtually, as it did for so many others. The school did its best by having the high school administrative team personally deliver our son’s diploma and by putting on a lovely virtual graduation. But we were determined to have some kind of celebration for him in August. We decided, of course, that the best place to celebrate such an accomplishment was at the Inn at Little Washington. We had 21 people at 3 different tables, with families generally sitting with each other. Marcus selected the menu, so it included his favorite dishes at the Inn. (This was consistently pointed out by Jim, who noted that not all of his favorites were on the menu.) The event was beautifully done (it was the Inn, after all), and the food was amazing. Jim gave a lovely toast, Rem (his best friend) gave an amazing speech, and Jade actually gave a lovely off-the-cuff speech as well. Marcus, not surprisingly, rose to the occasion and gave a wonderful, heartfelt speech, mentioning everyone there by name and explaining why he was grateful to them. It was all pretty perfect, under the circumstances. And while it wasn’t necessarily the party we would have had for him if we could, being Marcus, it was more than enough.