New seasonal header is "A Quiet Stream", painting by Walter Launt Palmer, circa 1890*
I skipped posting in December, not by design, but purely because I had other things keeping me busier than I expected, then, suddenly, it was January. It happens sometimes. In some ways, I certainly concurred with sentiments of those eager to exit 2020 as quickly as possible in December, but it's not something I wanted to dwell on at the time.
Like so many people, my holiday season spirit was kept contained and relatively low-key. I didn't search for new decorative items and relied on things I already had. I only pulled out a few things, preferring to keep things minimal and simple - a small dish, a single bunch of faux greens on the mantel with a pair of simple candles, a wreath on the door and my faux trees flanking the hearth and one just outside the front door. To be honest, I didn't take photos of any of it. I just didn't want to bother. Sure, I made a few special dishes to enjoy for each holiday, but I didn't go crazy as the celebrations just didn't seem to be the thing to do during in this COVID era.
I haven't been depressed about the low-key holidays, but after a mid-December storm that hit the week before winter officially started, dumping three feet of powdery snow on the ground outside my doors just as my trusty snowblower decided it didn't want to start, I knew that Christmas and New Year's were not holidays that I wanted to make a big fuss about. (The snowblower has since been repaired and stands ready for any further challenges Mother Nature might have in store for the rest of this winter.)
I was dealing primarily with shipping parcels to their recipients during December, and tracking them like a hawk to follow their progress to their ultimate destinations. While I knew the delivery systems across the country were bogged down with extraordinarily heavy volume during a typically very busy period for shipping annually, I had little choice but to ship my parcels when I did. A few of them took an inordinate amount of time to get where they were going during the holiday rush and its massive delays, but all of them eventually made it. Some didn't make it in time for the holiday, but all of the recipients were understanding and, for some, it didn't matter. December provided the final and frustrating major logistical challenge for what was an already very challenging year on so many levels.
In the grand scheme of things, my worries about a few packages being delivered in a timely manner was an insignificant concern compared to the difficult, and sometimes tragic, situations so many people faced in the course of this overwhelmingly aberrational year.
I'm so sad for those who lost their battles with COVID-19 and for the families and friends they have left behind. I'm sad for the health care workers and first responders and all who surround them for the unspeakably difficult challenges they have faced and are still facing as the virus cases spike around the country. I wish we had been able to make more progress in keeping this rabid disease in check and get the vaccines out to everyone more swiftly once approved. I know these things take time, but we're the greatest country in the world - or we were - and we should be able to get this done faster. We'll get there eventually, but until we do, we'll all be trying to dodge that bullet until it's no longer a threat to our very lives.
No sooner did we tick over into 2021 and the events of January 6 were a startling reminder that the calendar might have changed but all still is not well for everyone in the USA. I won't get into a political discussion here, but it certainly was a troubling turn of events on top of a very troubling and disruptive prior year. It certainly makes one appreciate when things were more "normal."
I continue to spend this time lying low and, except for those close to me, avoiding other people as much as possible. Fortunately, I have a very high tolerance for spending time relying on my own devices, doing the things I enjoy within the confines of the four walls in which I live or just outside them. I don't need to go very far and, fortunately, don't have to as the essential amenities I need are nearby. I consider myself very fortunate in that regard.
I have always been a creative type and I now have the time to indulge my creative passions. Fortunately, it's the way I can make the best of a situation that is, for the most part, out of any of our individual hands.
Let's hope that we can all move forward in this new year of 2021 deliberately and with greater freedom, health, and success than we have experienced in 2020.
* American painter Walter Launt Palmer (1854-1932) was a native of my hometown of Albany, NY, and was known particularly his portrayals of the eastern New York region's landscape, particularly in winter. He was tutored early in his life by renowned Hudson River School artist Frederic Church and traveled to Europe to study the great masters before returning to settle at his Albany home.