gratitude-a-thon day 2023: no meteors

Last night my husband and I watched a mindless disaster movie called Greenland. This is no recommendation for it (it was ridiculous, although just what we needed), but what i did think was kind of remarkable, is that the plot (meteors are hitting the earth and extinction is inevitable, except for certain people who’ve been invited by exclusive invitation, because they’ll be needed to start the world up again, like architect/builder Gerard Butler, who together with his wife and diabetic son, who fight to get on the plane to bunkers in Greenland for the entire length of the movie), felt completely plausible to me! I kept saying to Peter, “This could happen. We could seriously be facing meteors tomorrow! It wouldn’t surprise me.”

He didn’t disagree.

Living inside this pandemic since last March, watching and reading news that seems like pranksters took over the media, is so surreal, so bizarre, I’m beginning to think anything can happen.

I’m almost 100% certain meteors will not reign down on us, but to quote Sleepless in Seattle, when Meg Ryan and Rosie O’Donnell hear their friend say that “It’s easier to be killed by a terrorist than to get married over age 40,” Annie says, “That is not true. That statistic is not true.” and Becky replies, “That’s right, it’s not true, but it feels true.”

That's right, it's not true. But it feels true.

Life is unpredictable, totally and completely. Which is why having gratitude is so important. The act of focusing on that which is good, despite sometimes feeling like you’re sinking into a pit of quicksand, is the key to getting your balance again. I fall off the gratitude wagon more than I’d like to, and I recently lost my way once again. But what’s nice about gratitude is that it’s a forgiving sort and it will allow you back into its life faster than you can say “vaccine.”

Just a little reminder, gratitude is waiting for you. Even as Covid-19 marches around our worlds like a spoiled three year old demanding its way, there are still plenty of good things happening. Make sure to note them. They are the Greenland of the movie we all need to get to the new world and start again.

gratitude-a-thon day 2022: buh-bye 2020

Happy new year! I thought 2020 might refuse to concede to 2021. (I stole this from an unknown source, but, right?!). What a calamity. What a dumpster fire married to an active volcano. What a, as Dana Bash on live tv, called the first presidential debate, “shit show.”

I will pay even more attention to my almost 13 year old bestie because he is my heart.

I spent a lot of 2020 trying to normalize the unnormalizeable. Didn’t we all? Didn’t we all try and make sense of what was happening, from the behavior of our mentally ill, ultra incompetent, extremely divisive president to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the political season that seemed to encompass several hundred years, to living with a lethal virus running rampant and changing the fabric of the world, while killing more than 320,000 people in this country, alone.

There will be some moments I will remember fondly, once I have enough distance from the offspring of the devil and Mitch McConnell, that was this year. And I bet you will, too. Until then I will keep masking up, staying hopeful, continuing to focus on the all encompassing joy and elation that have engulfed me since election day. I will work even harder at finding the smallest, gnat-sized good things. I will focus more on what I have and less on what I don’t. I will try to be kinder. I will make an effort to use my phone less and move my body more. I will ponder what I’m grateful for every single day. I will make sure that those i love know it. I will consider officially adopting my Elf cutout so that he can come to all holiday celebrations and not just Christmas. I will work hard at making 2021 the year we laughed more. And I will, finally, turn off the news.

Who knew I could have a third child at 61?

So, bring it, 2021. We’ll do our best with you. But, go easy on us, we’ve been through a lot and we need a kinder, gentler place to live right now. And here we go.

gratitude-a-thon day 2021: “the days are growing,” she said

Today, the darkest day of the year reminds me of my mom.

Not that my mom was a dark person, just the opposite. Today, my mother would say, without fail, her face lighting up the room, while darkness seemed to descend around 11:00 in the morning (not really, but it felt like it) “Today is the shortest day of the year. Now the days start growing!”

This made me howl with a combination of laughter and irritation. How could she be happy on such a dark and gloomy day, I’d wonder. That women ran on hope, is the answer, She was always looking for brighter days, even on the blackest of the year.

My mother’s six year battle with lung cancer began its final stage on December 15, 1989. She called me to tell me she had a headache. I didn’t think much of it, but she insisted she had a terrible, terrible headache. It could be sinus, I said. It could be a migraine. There was a bad sound in her voice, a cancer sound.

The next day, my sister called to tell me that she was taken in an ambulance from our house to the hospital and they were doing tests. I felt my body go numb, each part of me, completely void of feeling. I began to float, but not in that good way that happens when you’re in love. My husband and I went home that night. I remember walking into the hospital room that first day and my sister being sort of crouched in the corner in a chair, her husband standing next to her, my dad there, and somehow the timing was exquisite, as the doctor had just walked in to deliver the news that the cancer was running around the lining of my mom’s brain like a marathoner.

It fell to my sister and I to determine a treatment plan, whether we should agree to allow her to get radiation along with a shunt in her skull to directly deliver chemo. We struggled, since nobody would tell us exactly the outcome of this little plan. But she delivered us her final Christmas present, when after her first date with radiation, she said loud and clear, “No more.” We only agreed because we’d bumped into a doctor in the elevator who told us if we pursued the chemo and radiation, she’d be blind in month or so and would only live another six months. I’m sure he didn’t realize the gift he was giving us, as no other doctor we’d asked would be so honest, spitting out gibberish, like “you never know. Everybody’s different.”

We knew.

Without treatment, the hospital would not allow her to stay, so we were forced to move her to a hospice an hour from our home. If you told me I’d ever be able to be in a place where everybody was dying, I’d tell you I would not. But it was one of the nicest and warmest and most transformative places I’ve ever been.

So, as the rest of the world was preparing their houses for Santa’s arrival, decorating their trees and shopping for gifts, baking and singing christmas carols, I slept with a pillow over my head. Not being able to tolerate food, I lived on little cartons of vanilla soy milk. My sister and I were glued to one another. We went back and forth to the hospice, on the winding back roads of Connecticut, lined with tall trees and bodies of water. We lay in her bed with her, holding her, morphine coursing through her veins, wishing for some of our own.

On December 21, my mother could no longer speak, so she didn’t tell us that the days were growing while darkness fell over us. This would be the first of all the important things I would never hear her speak again. It barely mattered to me, my whole life was darkness that month. (I’d just found out I’d never have a baby. But we all know how that turned out!)

I won’t bore you with the rest of the story, but my mother passed, as we hit a deer rushing to her side (a call at 2:30 in the morning that she was in the last stages, threw us into the car). We didn’t make it in time. She was gone when we arrived.

But every December 21, I say what she would have said, “It’s the shortest day of the year, but now the days are growing!” I say it to whoever will listen. I say it all day long. And I think of my mom, because she is the one who always brought me light, no matter what day it was.

gratitude-a-thon day 2020 (yikes): dance it out

The vaccine is starting to roll out. This is the light at the end of the dark, black, dirty tunnel that we’ve been waiting for. iT’S NOT A TRAIN! No, we’re not nearly in the clear, no, you can’t invite Santa in for Christmas dinner (or anybody else, either), nope, it’s not business as usual. BUT, there is hope. And frankly, in a year like 2020, hope is like finding out potato chips have no calories. Hope is freaking EVERYTHING. EVERY LITTLE THING

I love this video so much I want to marry it. It’s healthcare workers at Boston Medical Center celebrating the arrival of the vaccine. These brave and selfless souls deserve this moment. I could watch it all day and night…..

GRATITUDE TO THEM AND ALL THE FRONTLINE WORKERS OUT THERE EVERYWHERE WHO’VE BEEN KEEPING US GOING. This one’s for you. You have my undying gratitude, forever and ever.

gratitue-a-thon day 2019: getting through it

Last Saturday you needed like, a head to toe waterproof beekeeper suit with thigh high fisherman’s boots to even take a step outside. It was a New England classic. The kind of winter weather that always makes me cranky, but this year, with Covid, and spending time outside being so much more important, the rainy, sleety, snowy, windy dark at 3:45 day, made me anxious and angry. This was what I have been dreading since the start of Covid. “Imagine this in the winter….,” I’d often say during the light and bright summer months of this virus, contorting my face into a “can you even” expression. Little did I know back then that we’d find out, that this pandemic would actually not only still be plaguing us during the winter months, but throwing out bigger numbers than the amount of lies spewing from Trump’s twitter account.

If you’ve known me for four minutes, you know that I hate winter. I.HATE. WINTER. I abhor the cold, the pile of clothes you must put on to be outside without turning into Frosty the fucking Snowman, the ice you have to chip from your windshield, and contend with under your feet. I’m a summer girl all the way. Give me the sunshine, the ability to walk outside with warmth on my shoulders and flip flops on my feet. Give me flowers and fertile green trees and beach and barbecued steaks and my little patio filled with people and wine and a fire in the fire pit and white twinkly lights……Andyway, the idea of having Covid and winter together like an off-key duet of the devil and Mitch McConnell, has been haunting me ever since I heard the word “pandemic.” It sounded like a I should just make my reservation at the acclaimed McClean Hospital, booking a nice suite for December through, say, May.

But back to last Saturday–I knew I had to do something, get out of the house, despite my lack of appropriate clothing options. I decided a chicken soup was in order, so headed to the store and bought the supplies. I came home soaking wet and got out my a-baby-could-take-a bath-in-this pot and threw two chickens inside with water and some veggies, salt and pepper for flavor to simmer all day. Then I began to chop. Thick leeks with circles that reminded me of tree trunks, and onions that made my eyes water and green celery, which I had to keep replenishing on account of I kept eating it, and big fat carrots. That was all I could do until late in the afternoon when the chicken had slow cooked. Then I did some online holiday shopping, went down a few google rabbit holes, read the news, wrapped some already purchased gifts, watered the plants, cleaned up my room, did some work, hopped on the stationairy bike and stared outside as it got darker and more hideous by the minute. At 3:30, I finally called it, lit a candle in my room, crawled into bed and read. And that’s when I thought. ok, this is what you’ve been dreading all these months since March–this day–of bad weather and darkness combining for cataclysmic misery and, well, it wasn’t so bad. I was safe and warm in my comfortable bed, with my dog laying right next to me and my kids and husband occupying themselves with work and tv and eating and we were all ok.There were people dying in very high numbers from Covid, their family and friends struggling, suffering, which hardly compared to having to stay in side for a day. It wasn’t the best time I’ve ever had, but I was getting through it without wanting to take cyanide and that’s when the gratitude came roaring into the middle of the room to say, “Hey, this is it, this is your worst case scenario and you’re fine.”

And so, I realize that this horrible, horrible virus that’s surging like a tsunami across our country during the cold, dark winter is like everything. You must take it a day at a time. You must do what you can for yourself and others to get through it. You must pray or meditate or telepathically communicate with your source of hope that we will all get through this frigid blackness. Every day that passes is a day I am getting through. And holy gratitude on high for that.

gratitude-a-thon day 2018: small biz faves

I know Small Business Saturday was last week, but I have a new idea–let’s make it Small business Saturday until Christmas (and beyond)! See, Covid isn’t just dampening our spirits, it’s taking a toll on small businesses, but a girl’s gotta gift, right? So, I’m suggesting we support those retail establishments who aren’t big and Amazon-y, but special and magical. When you purchase gifts from the following stores, you’ll not only be giving cool gifts to your loved ones, you’ll be helping these stores get through an unprecedented season of crazy. All of the following stores just happen to be owned by women (except Good). This is a tough time for any retail establishment, but small in particular, so if you’re buying, please consider how you spend your money. It’s never been more important. Here are my personal favorites.

Portobello Road However long this store has been open is however long I’ve loved it. Super cool jewelry, from affordable to splurge, cozy cashmere, tops and bottoms and scarves, leather bags and belts. Always a great bowl, or book. To die for pillows by Kevin O’Brien. Curated by Marina Kalb and Kristina Lyons, this is a shop to shop. If you go: Check website first, for hours, and when it’s sunny, you’ll find a great array outside, including sale items (I love a sale, don’t you just love a sale?!) . Or just hit the internet for a plethora of gifts you’ll want to keep yourself! (LITERALLY, AS I WAS WORKING ON THIS LIST, I GOT AN EMAIL LETTING ME KNOW PORTOBELLO ROAD WOULD BE CLOSING PERMANENTLY ON DEC 31. This is devastating news, because for 13 years, it’s been a go-to for gifts to give, and gifts to get (my family could always make Christmas or my birthday easy, by just walking in the door). Treat yourself by heading in or shopping online before the doors close. SAD FACE EMOJI HERE.)

This store has no equal. The end.

Nesting on Main This second floor shop is like a winter wonderland and each Christmas, they decorate every square inch of this second floor space to compete with Santa’s workshop. You’ll find some holiday treasures in the form of candles and decorations, clothing, and lots and lots of the unusual. If you go: You’ll feel like it’s really Christmas. If you don’t, you’ll still get some holiday spirit online. 

I so appreciate all the work that goes into making Christmas so, well, Christmas-y!

Thistle Hill is a new find in the last few years for me. Kelly Hochsprung has a great eye. Her store is full of bedding you want to curl up on ASAP, and clothes you want to live in, for, well ever. A drool worthy line of Il Bisonte bags gets me every time (one of my fave Italian stores). Candles and creams and jewelry, too. If you go: Check hours, and enjoy yourself! Kelly is as nice as they come. Shop online, too.

This is a really beautiful place. Try not to buy everything.

Shake the Tree Marian Klausner, owner of Shake the Tree nestled in the amazing North End knows how to mix up fab jewelry with cute clothes, perfume, cards, books, housewares and decorations at price points you’ll appreciate. Who knows how she does it, I’m just glad she does! If you go: work up an appetite, and hop around the corner to Mike’s Pastry for a Lobster Tail to go! (MY TRULY FAVORITE DESSERT)!

A tiny taste of all the goodies Shake the Tree has for the holidays. I always walk out with a bagful.

Kodomo What’s prettier than Charles Street at the holidays? Kodomo’s hand picked, comfy and cozy, stylish and ethical kid’s store. Jasmine Punzalan has such a keen sense of style, I wish she’d open a store for adults. (Pretty please…….) Meander in for an eye candy stroll, or shop online–her site and Instagram feed are good fun, too. 

This is such a special kid’s store. The clothes are next level.

Good Back on Charles street, where it belongs, this long-standing store is always a must-shop. From jewelry to home goods, apparel, scarves, wraps and hats, this is one of of my hall-of-famers. And if you go, you can do a two-fer with Kodomo, since these two special shops are within blocks of one another. Win-win. Online shopping works, too.

Not just Good, great!

Curds & Co. You like cheese? You like cheese boards, things that go well with cheese, like jams and nuts and wines? You like a great looking store? You like really smart sales help who know what they’re doing? Then I’ve found your favorite new place to shop. I go to the one in Brookline Village, but there is also one at the Boston Market and now a cute cafe in Brookline Booksmith, too! And talk about a great gift–we’re talking the CurdBox. I recently bought a vintage cheese board that’s bigger than my downstairs powder room! Jenn Mason has the goods. And I have a new addiction!

Hello, my name is Toni and I have an addiction to Curds & Co.

Joanne Rossman, Purveyor of the unnecessary & irresistible A hidden gem, in Roslindale Village. If you’re lucky, Joanne and her new pug rescues, Nana & Nicco–Miss Rita Rose passed away last May :(–will greet you. Unique finds, great books, decorations, apparel and one-of-a-kind vintage gems await you. If you go, do a few loops of the store because you’ll keep finding new stuff. If not, Jonne’s imagination is online, too.

You never know what you’re going to find in this little store.

Elements/Jill Schwartz If you like jewelry (and I do), head over to Elements and take an online shopping trip. This whimsical brand has been churning out must-have earrings bracelets, necklaces and ornaments for decades, with a vintage eye and a bring the bling. Mega talented Jill Schwartz has a way with a bead! Great stuff and Instagram feed, too.

One of this year’s adorable ornaments. I’m ordering now!

Brookline Beauty Nails & Spa.Ok, this isn’t a retail shop and maybe you’re not having your manis and pedis as usual because these are the sacrifices (I’M KIDDING, here, of course), but after walking by this place 50 times (my dog route) and peering in the window to see large acrylic dividers separating client and manicurist, I decided to give it a try. (My old nail salon didn’t look like they were doing much of anything to keep people safe, so i abandoned ship). So, I took my claws and dry as a desert feet in, for just one treatment. Just to see if I felt safe. Helen and Celine, sisters, own BBN&S and are not only incredibly nice, they offer one of the best mani pedis I’ve ever had (and that’s saying something). And they are also obsessed with safety. Masks are mandatory, washing hands upon entering is a must. There are the dividers, and an air filter system, too. When weather allows the door is wide open. The salon is spotless and the pedi chair is super comfy. Only two customers are allowed to be in the space at the same time. And I gotta say, I feel completely safe. And seriously, they nail the nail art! Not that I’m a nail art person, but you should see the stuff Celine can do! This girl is an artist. It’s amazing! I love seeing how she’s done her own nails–different everytime I’ve been in. We’re talking pearls, and stripes and flowers and yesterday she had a butterfly on one of her opalescent nails! My manis and pedis have lasted much longer than any other salon I’ve been to. They have a whole slew of other offerings, like massage and facials, but none are available now, until Covid is more under control, but I can’t wait until they are, because this place is pretty amazing. 

Ok, I may not be a nail art person, but if you are, this is your place. Also, it’s super safe and gives the best mani and pedi I’ve ever had.

Drive-By Pies. If you like pie and I LOVE PIE, then leave this post and run, don’t walk to this tiny sweet spot in Brookline. The owner, Fran, who is awesomeness, makes the most sublime pies you will ever sink your teeth into. They’re all delish, but I’m partial to the Pear with Caramel. We had four for four people this Thanksgiving and well, guess how many were left by Saturday…..Order now. Seriously, this minute! There’s also lots of other great food, too. Like, try the chicken salad, for instance, or really ANYTHING! It’s all mouth watering and made from scratch!

gratitude-a-thon day 2016: there is still gratitude

PJs and Riley. That’s how I started my Thanksgiving day.

Hey ho, gratitude fans, it’s the day after we all sat around tables from Massachusetts to California reciting what we’re thankful for. This year there may have been less people around your table, or no people around your table. It was a different kind of holiday, just like it’s been a different kind of year. But despite the unusual and unusually L O N G election season, living in a world of social distancing, mask wearing, and being separated from friends and those we love, and in some cases losing them to Covid 19 (and I’m so sorry for you if you’ve endured this horror show disease), watching our essential workers and our healthcare workers and teachers risk their lives to take care of us all, parents trying to juggle work and kids who are going to school online, people who are in quarantine in bubbles and alone, a country divided and battered and suffering, we still have plenty to be grateful for. We do.

We have the magic of the sun and the moon above us (how do they stay up there, Bueller, Bueller?), the spectacular beauty of flowers and trees and blades of grass, the soothing feeling of sand and the sound of the salty sea. We have lakes and gurgling brooks and rainy day puddles. We have the smile of babies and the love of dog and cat companions who are family (even if they are just internet pictures making you laugh), sunsets that take our breath away for just a sec, pie and crusty bread, and potato chips and mashed potatoes and any potatoes, a cup of coffee extra light with just the right amount of sweet, a stranger saying hello from behind his mask.

We have the freedom to bring our grievances to the street, to call our government and let our voices be heard, to vote. We have the the right to demand better, to insist on better, to get better. We have the great pleasure of being able to give to others, to help others, to do our part.

We have laughter and funny and silly and giggling. (Among the BEST of what we have to be grateful for.)

We have a vaccine on the way (yes, not now, but soon). We can be grateful for some of the things we’ve learned while we’ve had to slow down, like patience, and generosity and how important what’s important to us, is.

We have a new president who believes in science, rational thinking, integrity, compassion and unity (member those things), who doesn’t tweet lies, or say lies, or believe in lies. We have a new president who wants to help bring us together and not divide us further.

We have a lot of problems as a country. But we also have a lot of hope. And after four years of of being deprived of that, I choose to be grateful for it, to embrace it hard and long and fully.

What are you grateful for? What is it that you can find, no matter how small, that you are grateful for?

gratitude-a-thon day 2015: getting to know my own kids

When Jake, my oldest kid left for college, I mourned for a year prior, crying at every major occasion, as “the last.” When he finally boarded the plane for his first semester in Barcelona (a January admit to USC, he chose a program in fab Spain to spend his initiation into college life), I had my final sob session and went home to get used to a new life without him in the house. (When he came back and we had to pack and bring him out to sunny L.A., I had to go through the whole thing again!)

When Ally left for college in Connecticut, it made me an official empty nester (unless you count Riley, who is not allowed to go to college, and besides he’s smart enough and knows everything that’s important about life without a higher education), but she was also playing soccer, so we saw her every week of the fall, and her school was close enough for us to drive to and back from in a day if we felt the need to see her cute face (unlike Spain and California, which were a much more difficult story).

With the house all emptied out, I began to hunt for the good in the situation (that’s what we do here at the gratitude-a-thon, find the sunny side of the street). No more 17 pairs of shoes in the hallway. Less laundry. When I left something clean, it would be clean when I came back to it (how novel!) And of course, the best part–if I didn’t get to the grocery store for food, or I was too busy to cook, and we had to have cheese and crackers for dinner, or take out, it was just fine. You honestly, no exaggeration, could serve my husband a piece of rug with a side of curtains and he’d tell you how absolutely delicious it was. My kids, not so much.

Picture by the AMAZING Rania Matar!

Jake and Ally would come back and visit, and that was always fun, but the house was now mainly ours and the benefits of our freedom and having a whole lot less responsibility, and of course, re-bonding with one another, was nice. It was fun. It was good. We traveled. A lot. We were leaning in to it.

All of which is to say, I never thought we’d all live together again, in this house, like before. But guess what, Covid 19 had other plans for us (and maybe you, too). And here we are, the four of us, all cohabitating once again, but this time, everybody is an adult! (Well, everyone but my husband, who can still be a bit of a child sometimes!)

And it’s, well, unexpectedly interesting! And definitely the silver lining of this truly bizarre moment in history.

With Jake living in LA, I’m not so sure that we’d ever get to spend this much time with him unless we were having something like a pandemic. Having not lived with him in more than six years, I’m getting to know him in a way I haven’t been able to do, despite visits, Facetime, texting, Instagram messaging and phone calls. It’s fun to see how he handles his his job as an assistant account executive at an ad agency (especially in the later hours of his work day, which with the time difference, make it 9:00 here). I admire his ambition and work ethic. He loves to cook and has a way with the grill. He’s got a great sense of humor and continues to be a thoughtful guy, like he was when he was little. He’s very self aware and is always up for constructive criticism that will make him a better person. On the down side, he’s not any neater than he was when he was a teenager (ugh) and GOD FORBID HE SHOULD PUT A DISH IN THE DISHWASHER, or do something the first time you ask him to, but he’s always happy to walk the dog, or run to the grocery store for a quick shop.

Although we’ve spent a good amount of time with Ally during college, I’ve learned a lot about her, too, since she’s been home, after we unceremoniously said goodbye to her senior year by piling her stuff hastily into the car, on March 13. She, too, is as messy as she was when she was younger, she has more laundry than the rest of us put together, and at least 16 of those 17 shoes in the hallway are hers, but she’s actually attending law school during this total shit show! And she’s killing it! She had her apartment in Hartford, and was excited to be starting law school at UConn last August, but then, like so many schools, the whole shebang went virtual. I couldn’t quite imagine how it was going to work out for her, but I have to hand it to her, she’s doing incredibly well, super engaged, going big on class particpaion and making friends. She is constantly schooling us in all she’s learning and I am half thinking the four of us could probably pass her exams in December! She’s also been our go-to on all things social justice, as it’s one of her interests and something she focused on in college. She’s become very self-aware and is actually realizing she can be wrong sometimes (!) And she keeps us laughing our heads off. If law doesn’t work out for her, she has a career in comedy as a back-up. The girl is funny.

Have we fought? Yup. Do we sometimes want to clobber each other? Uh huh. But the truth is, I keep thinking what an extraordinary thing this is to be able to spend not just a visit, but actual day-to-day time with these two adult people who used to be little in this very same house. And really, given the circumstances, we’re doing damn well together. We have celebrated Ally’s at-home, online graduation, fended off a rat infestation in our backyard, survived the twice broken downstairs bathroom door, acted as co-workers as the four of us working in unison, laptops going in different rooms, looking like the Apple store, had a blast during a socially distanced week on the Cape, sang happy birthday three times at dinners in outside restaurants in varying degrees of cold (ok, one was on the edge of a patio), grieved Peter’s dad, “G-dad, who died of Covid, stopped making fun of my hoarding of toilet paper and paper towels, rallied around Peter finding out he has to have a shoulder replacement, lived through an election season that was like no other, with incessant news watching and accompanying anxiety, one absentee ballot and three MA voters, and a Joe & Kamala victory, in which I actually banged pots, old school, in the street, and nursed the dog through anesthesia for a teeth cleaning in which he had a tooth pulled and had 7 growths removed with 20 stitches. No, we’re not singing Kumbya on the daily, but we love and adore each other and it’s very clear we’d do anything for one another (unless of course it has to do with cleaning or laundry). I mean, this is a stressful time for all of us, but being together has been a bright spot in an otherwise, masked, socially distanced and surreal period of time.

Ally’s birthday dinner at Scampo, on the edge of the patio.

What are you doing that you wouldn’t be doing if it weren’t for the pandemic mucking up your life? I’m getting to know my adult kids in a way I’m quite sure I’d never get to do otherwise. And gratitude, so much gratitude, for that.

GRATITUDE-A-THON DAY 2014: HOPE

Last Sunday I stood in line for 30 minutes at Clear Flour Bakery, which should be called The Crack Den of Brookline, to buy bread to deliver to some friends with a note that said, “Election week sustenance.” I was kidding of course, just trying to help some friends get through the crazy with carbs, but that little note turned out to be prophetic.

The past week has been 1,387,922 years long. Since Tuesday, we’ve been living in la vida limbo, biting our nails, incessantly checking our phones, our computers, our tvs, our radios for news, praying, hoping, wishing, becoming intimately acquainted with Steve Kornacki, his khakis (Kornkhakis), and that little piece of hair that despite being gelled down, always pops up like a Jack-in-the-box, on the left side of his head. We drooled over Rachel’s barn door walls (in quarantine because a friend tested positive for Covid), noticed Rick Santorum was curiously rocking Kamala Converse, gloried in the wisdom coming out of John Meacham’s mouth.

We waited and we waited some more.

We texted friends, as we tried to maintain hope and composure. We tried to work, but who were we kidding. We drank wine and ate bad food. And then drank more wine and ate more bad food. We slept in fits and spurts, our phones beckoning us to check for news. Refresh, refresh, refresh. We waded through our days with the fear that Trump might unleash the Proud Boys and QAnon crowds to make trouble (and not good trouble). We wondered how long this could reasonably go on? We prepared ourselves for the worst, while hoping for the best. We made deals with God. We researched where we could move our lives to and how fast we could get there, in case things went sideways. We cried. We laughed. We napped.

And then Saturday morning, as my family and I were huddled around the tv, for day five, my daughter working on law school homework, my son just up, my husband sipping coffee, Joe Biden’s face appeared, a yellow box with a check mark next to the words that sounded like Truffle potato chips taste, “President Elect.”

Wait, what?

Did Pennsylvania finally come in? Oh yes, it had. And it ushered in with it a collective sigh of relief that could be heard round the world–summed up in a tweet by the mayor of Paris, “Welcome back America.” Screams worthy of Horror pics escaped our mouths, only they were happy screams. We jumped up and down like kids who hear the ice cream tune coming down the street. We kissed and hugged. We toggled stations to see if it was real, and yes, even Fox News, Trump’s shadow administration, had called it for Biden. I opened my front door and let out a holler, a holler that had been living inside me for the past four years, waiting for freedom. My neighbor was banging pots in the backyard and so I joined her. Within minutes, our neighborhood poured into the street, unbridled joy in the form of a kitchen utensil heavy band. We danced unself-consciously, and wanting to hug each other, but masked and socially distanced, settled for yipping and howling and twirling our tired, giddy selves instead. Car horns beeped and spirits visibly rose and people laughed and texts flew into my phone from all over the country, all with the same basic sentiment–THE NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER. And the week that was turned into a moment of pure and raucous elation. My shoulders, permanently parked up by my ears since that cruel night in 2016 began to melt down my back.

My husband and I drove to Castle Island and walked by the water on an unusually sunny and warm day in November and literally watched the tide turn.

The speeches were filled with optimism and warmth and Joe said, “Even if you didn’t vote for me, i’ll be your president,” and I believed him. And Kamala’s smile lit up the podium and her words, “And while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last,” echoed out into the deepest recesses of women’s hearts, everywhere.

Yup, after four of a power hungry president who lied, cheated, divided, insulted and murdered our planet, our standing, our children and our souls, Joe Biden, a 78 year old man who’s run for president twice unsuccessfully, served his country his whole life, lost his wife and baby daughter in an accident when he was just 29, and a grown son to cancer, held the office of VP for 8 years, possessing the compassion and empathy you can only have if you’ve been through the worst and come out the other end, and the integrity of the finest gentleman, became the president of the United States. And I felt a feeling I’d totally forgotten.

Hope.

Gratitude to our country who voted to rebuke hate and division and lies and cheating and bullying and bigotry. I know we are divided. I know we have some enormous problems to face and fix. And I know this ain’t no disco, that it will be hard and painful to right this ship. But there’s an adult in the room again. And I believe, I really believe we’re going to be alright.