We decorated our Christmas tree today. While many people put their trees up right after Thanksgiving here in the United States, we usually wait until closer to Christmas and keep it up until Epiphany. This year, knowing that daughter E and granddaughter ABC will be heading to the UK mid-month for the holidays, we decided to decorate early in order to observe St. Nicholas Day on December sixth for exchanging gifts and opening stockings.
At almost eighteen months, we weren’t sure how ABC would react to tree trimming. We went through our considerable cache of ornaments and chose all the indestructible and child-safe ones for the bottom half of the tree. ABC was delighted with all the rocking horses, bells, animals, musical instruments, angels, etc. and ran back and forth with them. She wanted them on the tree and then wanted them back off to play with them, but, eventually, we got the whole tree decorated. We are sure there will be lots of opportunities to re-hang ornaments after she decides to play with them again!
I love our Christmas ornament collection, which includes ones that came to us from our families, handmade ones, and many that we have collected while travelling. One special one that we added this year is a handmade downy woodpecker, which we bought to commemorate the one that our daughters tried to rescue.
The woodpecker’s new bear friend is one that we have had for decades.
And two of ABC’s words are “bear” and “bird”, even if they do sound a lot alike when she says them.
I admit that, with so much going on this past year, I am having trouble feeling in the Christmas spirit, but ABC’s delighted squeals with each new ornament certainly helped.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We were able to bring Nana from the skilled nursing unit over to the dining room in the Village Center for Thanksgiving dinner, which was delicious.
For years, Nana had been the unofficial goodwill ambassador of the retirement community. She used to make the rounds of the tables after dinner, visiting with everyone and catching up on them and their families. After she went into hospice care in early summer 2017, she wasn’t able to be out and about. Now that she has been decertified by hospice and has done some rehab, she was strong enough to come over for an hour using a wheelchair outfitted with portable oxygen.
A number of people stopped by the table to say hello. There was lots of good food, conversation, and warmth, all of which counteracted the blustery day outside.
Last year at this time, I hadn’t thought it possible that we would have the privilege of another Thanksgiving with Nana and Paco. I am so grateful that we had this day together.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended what was known then as the Great War. The carnage had been so great with several countries losing the majority of their young men that it was thought that this war would be “the war to end all wars.”
Sadly, that armistice did not end wars. The ensuing decades have seen an even larger world war, the development of more types of weapons, many regional wars that have been ideological proxy wars, genocides of various groups, and, increasingly, the torture, starvation, bombing, wounding, and death of non-combatants.
If we truly wish to honor those who have served in the military, we should reflect on what armistice means, what it means to cease hostilities, and what it means to be at peace. Instead of spending so much on expensive weaponry, we could spend more on fighting poverty, disease, and environmental degradation.
This afternoon at my parents’ senior community, there will be a gathering of veterans who live there. A few, like my dad, are veterans of World War II. Others, also like my dad, served in Korea. There are Vietnam War era veterans and those who served during peacetime. They will share coffee and cake and conversation.
I doubt any of them want more war.
They want their grandchildren and great-grandchildren to live in peace.
This afternoon, we noticed a downy woodpecker on the ground under our feeders. It was strange, as woodpeckers generally don’t like being on the ground. We watched it for a while, but it became obvious that it couldn’t fly back up to the relative safety of the trees.
My daughters researched what to do. They put air holes in a cardboard shoebox and cushioned it with a towel. Next, T gently picked up the woodpecker with a washcloth and put it in the box and brought it inside. It is very chilly and wet today, so a warm, dry box was important for the bird to have any chance of survival.
Then, we needed expert help. They looked online for wildlife rehabilitators. There are none in our county who do bird rescues and the nearest one in a neighboring county wasn’t at home. Next, they called one that is affiliated with Cornell, daughter T’s alma mater. They were able to assist, so E and T headed for Ithaca, about an hour’s drive. (I stayed at home with baby toddler ABC.)
I’m happy to report that the woodpecker stayed cozy in the box until arrival. It looks as though he is having problem with one eye and his neck. They will treat him if they are able and humanely euthanize him if they can’t help him, much better than either freezing to death or being eaten by a cat. They are going to send a postcard with the outcome and I will update at that time.
The whirlwind that was October has blown into November. At the moment, it has brought some messy mixed precipitation with wet snow starting to accumulate on the grass and the cars, but “messy and mixed” describes a lot of the situations I find myself in of late.
We have been continuing to try to settle Nana and Paco into new routines with Nana in the Health Canter and Paco in his apartment, but things tend to shift day to day. I have been trying to untangle all the required paperwork and meetings, but some things are still in process.
Meanwhile, even though I haven’t been able to follow the news as closely as I usually do, I feel the weight and disquiet of the terrible events around the United States with shootings, pipe bombs, fires, and vitriol swirling around us. I had hoped the election would settle things down a bit. While I am grateful not to be inundated with political ads, the level of uncertainty, especially in national politics, is daunting. Mueller’s team went quiet for several weeks before the election due to Justice Department protocol, but now there is a wide-spread expectation that new charges may be announced, although with Attorney General Sessions having been fired, it is hard to know what will happen next and when/if a final report will be made public.
It seems we are in for more “mixed and messy” times…