Thanksgiving 2021

It’s a little hard to be thankful right now when I feel like I’m going to be forever stuck in this pandemic and half of the people in this country are actively trying to prolong it. I feel like I’m never going to be able to do the things I love again. But as much as I feel like life sucks right now, I am very much still thankful for things. I thought about making a list like I often have in previous years, but this year I’m just going to concentrate on the one thing I’m most thankful for this year, which is my friends.

At a point in time where most people have gone back to living their lives like they did pre-pandemic including my friends, I am thankful that I have a lot of people in my life who know that I am immunocompromised and am not experiencing the same freedom that they are and have continued to adjust things in their lives to include me. They are what is keeping me sane. So thank you to friends who do online game night with me most weeks. Thank you to friends who have agreed to shift back to online book clubs after delta ruined our plans to meet in person. Thank you to friends who when someone says why don’t we go to a bar for happy hour have said how about everyone comes over and we hang out on my porch instead. Thank you to friends who have invited me to fun outdoor events. Thank you to friends who have checked in on party plans to make sure I’d be okay with the set-up. Thank you to all my friends who are adjusting their lives to make sure I still feel included even when it would easier not to. You will never know how much it means to me. I love you all dearly and am so blessed and happy to have you all in my lives. So this year friends, I am thankful for you and I am hopeful that finally in 2022 we will get to start living more normal lives.

Banana Pants

If you’ve read any of my Most Memorable Pop Culture posts that I write at the end of every year, you’ll know that my favorite podcast over the past several years has been Make Me Smart. As far as I know I haven’t convinced anyone else to listen, but I still love it and think the rest of you all are just missing out. Anyway, one of the hosts of the podcast, Molly Wood, often refers to things that she thinks are crazy as banana pants. It was a term she used a lot in reference to the whole We Work IPO debacle, but it’s also been used in reference to lots of other things too.

Make Me Smart is a podcast produced under the umbrella of American Public Media’s Marketplace. Since it’s a publicly funded radio program they get some of their support through fund drives throughout the year. Whoever is in charge of the fund drive swag is really good at their job. They make great fund drive gifts related to their mothership radio show and the podcasts that have come out of it the past several years. I already wrote about some of my other favorite gifts in my sock market is not the economy socks and my super market is not the economy reusable grocery bag. I did not get it, but they also recently had a KaiPA pint glass, so named after Marketplace and Make Me Smart host Kai Rysdaal who loves IPAs and is always talking about them on the show and drinking them during the Economics on Tap Friday happy hour taping of the podcast.

In their most recent fund drive they ran with Molly’s frequent use of the phrase banana pants and created some literal banana pants. I recently got mine in the mail, and I love them. I’m going to be spending a lot of time in them this winter. They are super comfy, and they make me smile. They even have pockets! I even manifested some more merch. Last night as I was wearing my banana pants and my sock market is not the economy socks I was thinking to myself that now I just need a shirt to complete my ensemble. Then what do you know today I get an email telling me about new t-shirts they have made as merch unrelated to fund drives. I of course bought one immediately.

The banana pants are also now a little bit bitter sweet as Molly Wood just announced last week that she is leaving Marketplace and Make Me Smart for a new job at the end of November. She’s done a lot of reporting on climate change over the past several years, which has led to her new job. She is leaving journalism to go work for a venture capital firm dedicated to raising money to fund technology aimed at being climate change solutions. I am super sad that she is leaving. The podcast will continue, and I of course am still going to listen but it won’t be the same. Molly and Kai have the best podcast co-host energy. There have been many times over the years where one or the other of them hasn’t been there due to vacations or other work commitments and there was a guest co-host. It didn’t matter which one of them wasn’t there it just never felt as good to me as when they were hosting together. I know I’ll continue to enjoy the podcast, but I don’t think it will ever be able to be what it was without both Molly and Kai there.

I guess I’ll just have to sit around in my banana pants and remember the good times.

Family Reunion

I promised in a previous post that I would be writing about my recent trip to Massachusetts. I almost forgot to do it, but even though it’s a little delayed I’m finally getting around to it. For the most part I hadn’t seen any of my family since Christmas of 2019 before COVID. As you may recall my mom and sister did drive down from NJ and surprise me right before this last Christmas. I only got to spend about 90 minutes with them though and they were the only family I’d seen for a year and half.

My sister recently took a new job and moved back to Massachusetts with her family. Since all the adults and my eldest niece were vaccinated my husband and I decided to go up over my sister and my’s birthday (yes, we do have the same birthday one year apart). My parents decided to fly out from Arizona and we also got my cousin and her husband to come from St. Louis.

It was really great to get to spend time with my family again. My sister has a really nice pool and backyard area in her new house so we spent a lot of time hanging out by the pool. We also went hiking in a place called World’s End one day. I expected there to be some really dramatic vista or something given the name, but there wasn’t really. Although at some point you do get a nice view of Boston from across the water. My husband looked it up and apparently at one point they were planning on building a nuclear power plant there, so maybe that’s where the name comes from. We stopped on the way home at some place called the Lobster Pound and got lobster rolls. Being my family we also played a lot of cards while I was there.

My nieces are getting older and are now at the age where they don’t care that much about hanging out with me while I’m there. They were mostly off doing their own thing. I know it’s an inevitable part of growing up, but it’s still a little sad.

One day we’ll probably fly up when visiting, but I’m still not ready to get on a plane so we decided to drive up. It took us around 7 and a half on the way up with two stops and about 9 on the way back. My nephew once told me that Connecticut is the worst based on drives they used to make between NYC and Rhode Island. I am now inclined to agree with him. Connecticut is the worst. It’s long and the traffic is terrible. Also if you want to easily get food and use their service centers your choices are pretty much McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts at every stop. For the few places that had additional offerings it seems like they didn’t survive the pandemic as the Qdoba at the one we stopped at on the way up was closed and the Sbarro at the one we stopped at on the way back was closed.

I would up eating McDonald’s for the first time in 16 years and remembering why I never eat McDonald’s. It only barely has a resemblance to actual food. It was not good at all. Coming home I decided to just get a milkshake and I couldn’t even drink that. It just tasted like chemicals to me and I thought it was disgusting. If you like McDonald’s I guess you do you, but I honestly don’t know how people eat it or why they choose to go there when they have literally any other option. We’ll probably be driving back up there at Christmas this year as well and I might pack myself food because it seems like all my other options on that drive are terrible.

I’m very happy that we’re finally at a place where I feel okay seeing family and friends again. I hope it stays that way.

Life After (Sort-of) Vaccination

It’s been one month since I supposedly hit full vaccination status and about 10 days since my husband hit it. After being super locked down through the pandemic thus far, we’re slowly starting to baby step our way back out into the world. The problem is that I take a whole cocktail of immunosuppressant drugs, so we don’t actually know how effective the vaccine was for me or if it even was at all. Basically the advice seems to be that if you’re immunocompromised that even if you’re vaccinated you should act like you’re not. To some degree the world feels even less safe now for me than it did before. With case rates dropping due to people getting vaccinated mask mandates and capacity restrictions are being removed it’s now less safe for me to go into situations where I don’t know if people are vaccinated or not. I’m getting angrier and angrier at the people who refuse to get vaccinated or wear a mask and can’t seem to comprehend that their actions don’t affect just them.

I am also super jealous of people who are vaccinated that thanks to the incredibly effective vaccines that were developed in record time are able to start living their lives again in some semblance of normal. I feel like I am being left behind. I want to feel like I can go back out into the world again without putting my life in danger. I want to be able to go to stores and restaurants. I won’t even outside anywhere because I have no idea how many people there are or are not vaccinated.

I’m enrolled in a study looking at the COVID vaccines in people with Crohn’s disease and as part of that I should have my antibodies tested in about a month, but everything I’ve read about that says that unless it miraculously shows that my body did still mount an effective response to the vaccine we don’t really know what it means. There may be other immune responses that are primed that they can’t measure in the existing antibody tests or if I have some antibodies but not as many as healthy people no one knows what the threshold for effectiveness is. There just isn’t enough data yet. So in some respects I want the test in hopes that it tells me the vaccine was effective and I can start living my life more normally, but most likely it’s going to show data that no one really knows how to interpret and I’m still going to feel like I’m living in limbo.

Even with the fact that the vaccine might not be very effective for me, they are offering me some ability to come out of hiding a little bit. The fact that case rates are dropping means it’s much less likely that I’ll come into contact with virus and now that we know that it’s very unlikely for someone who is vaccinated to pass on the disease to someone else I can feel fairly safe in situations where I know everyone is vaccinated.

I’ve started seeing some friends again maskless and in non-socially distant situations. I’ve hung out with a couple of different groups of friends and one of my book clubs has returned to meeting in person. We’re still doing all of these things outside because it’s safer and while the weather allows for it why not. I’m also going to be able to see my family soon. We’re going to visit my sister-in-law this weekend and a few weeks I’m going to visit my sister and her family where my parents and my cousin will also join us. I’ve also started dipping my toe back into more public situations where I can’t know the vaccine status of everyone. I’ve scheduled a million medical appointments that I put off. Not exactly the most fun thing, but necessary. I also have gone back into some stores for the first time in a year. We’re picking back up on the kitchen renovation we were about to start right before the pandemic hit last year, so we’re needing to go to stores to finish picking out all the stuff we need to decide on for that. I also went back to in-person church for the first time since the pandemic started this past Sunday. We’re meeting outside and still masked at the Baltimore Museum of Industry’s pavilion, so it feels very safe to do. I definitely wouldn’t be back if we were meeting indoors right now. It was really nice to be able to be there in person again. There is definitely something to be said for physical community.

For now I’m trying to concentrate on the things I’m starting to get back and not dwell too much on the things that I feel like I still can’t do or wonder about how I’m going to navigate a life that is going back to normal for people either because they’re vaccinated or because they’re unvaccinated and just don’t care while I do care and may not be protected. Eventually the world is going to move on and at some point I’m probably going to have start accepting a higher level of risk than I feel comfortable with because I won’t be able to avoid it forever. See above about my anger at people who won’t get vaccinated.

But I am thankful for all my friends who are vaccinated and are being accommodating to my comfort level for doing things like shifting a suggested get together from an outdoor gathering at a restaurant to someone’s house. It’s really nice to be able to spend time with people again even if I wish I could do more.

Oyster Crackers

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here about simple little pleasures, but I should really try and do more of that. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place to have something that forced me to find and focus on the good things in life. Obviously that’s been a bit of a struggle the past 12 months, but given the funk I’ve been in lately perhaps something I need to get back into the habit of.

I have some friends that I have been doing an online game night with pretty much every Saturday since the pandemic started. It was very cute of me back in the beginning to think that this was only going to last for a few weeks so I sent out a new calendar invite every week where I tried to name it with a pop culture reference based on what number week it was we had been doing it. For a very long time it’s been a recurring calendar invite named Virtual Game Night: To Infinity and Beyond.

Now you are probably wondering what in the heck virtual game night has to do with oyster crackers. A few weeks ago for Galentine’s Day I bought chocolate tasting kits from River Sea Chocolates for us ladies to do instead of our regularly scheduled game night. We didn’t actually wind up doing it on Galentine’s Day because one of the neverending ice storms we had for awhile delayed my ability to drive around and deliver them.

At any rate the tasting kits included two little packages of oyster crackers to cleanse our palates between the different types of chocolate. While the chocolate was good we all got a little obsessed with oyster crackers and for the next couple weeks kept talking about oyster crackers in our group chat, buying oyster crackers, and musing about whether for our next tasting we should try a variety of flavored oyster crackers. Who knew that oyster crackers would be more popular than chocolate?

I really do love oyster crackers, but they are not something I ever really buy for myself. I pretty much usually only eat them at restaurants when they’re served with soup. They are key with clam chowder, but it’s really hard to find clam chowder in dumb Maryland. We’re all about crab here so everyone has cream of crab soup instead, which is fine but not the same.

I too should probably cave and buy myself some oyster crackers to snack on as a treat.

A Very COVID Christmas

Obviously like for many of us (though sadly not enough of us), this Christmas season looked very different than Christmases past. Although it’s not one I would necessarily want to repeat, I also found a lot of things to take joy in.

There were not the usual parties and get togethers that happen this time of year, but I appreciate how my friends got creative to come together and celebrate in new and interesting ways. One of my friends hosted an online holiday murder mystery. Having done some of these murder mystery parties in person I wasn’t sure how it would translate to online, but it worked pretty well. I even figured out who the murderer was! A different group of friends did a couple of online Christmas movie nights where we watched White Christmas and Home Alone over text together.

We also had our 17th annual Winter Wonderland party that we have with a group of friends every year. Back in the day we used to rent out the upper room at Max’s. Then once there were a lot of kids in the group meeting at a bar became untenable so our friends started hosting at their house. Then this year we had to move online. Our friends put together a slide show of past parties. It was fun to look back at the early years and see us and all our kids grow up. The other benefit to doing this party online was that some friends who have left Baltimore over the years were able to drop in and join us as well!

I usually bake a ton of Christmas cookies in December and give them away as gifts. I was obviously still able to enjoy this tradition, though due to mail issues I didn’t mail anything out this year worried that the cookies wouldn’t be any good by the time they got there. In the past few years since they moved to Baltimore I’ve also been baking and decorating Christmas cookies with my niece. Obviously this year we couldn’t get together to bake, but we each baked cookies on our own and did a little sidewalk exchange of cookies and presents. She did an excellent job on her own.

I wasn’t expecting to spend any part of the holiday season with my family. We have been super careful the entire pandemic and so were definitely not traveling or getting together with anyone in-person inside. My parents against my preference travelled from Arizona to my sister’s house in New Jersey. Even though I haven’t seen any of them since last Christmas we were not going to drive up and join them. However, on the Monday before Christmas my sister and my mother drove down to surprise us with a quick visit. They only stayed for about an hour and half and we sat outside in masks socially distanced and visited for a little bit before they turned around and drove back. It was a really nice surprise and it was great to see them. I look forward to some day hopefully in the not too distant future when I can see the rest of my family too.

Actual Christmas was quiet with just me and my husband. It’s the first time in my 20+ years of adult life where I have spent Christmas in my own home. I’ve always traveled to somewhere else either to visit my family or my husband’s family. Although I missed spending the holiday with family there was something nice about spending Christmas in my own house and trying my best to continue some traditions while creating some new ones of my own. Though I guess they probably can’t be called traditions if I never do them again.

On Christmas Eve I attended the Christmas Eve service at my church for the first time ever since I’m always traveling, though it was online. My main goal was to continue the tradition of eating shrimp cocktail on Christmas Eve. When I was a small child growing up in Georgia my parents had a Christmas Eve open house party every year. There were always two standard things that they served along with other appetizers, shrimp cocktail and a cheese ball. After we moved away when I was in middle school and they stopped having that party we continued eating shrimp cocktail on Christmas Eve. The cheese ball fell by the wayside, which is fine with me. I never really liked those things anyway. One year when I was first living in Baltimore and working at Barnes & Noble wasn’t able to fly home until after I got off work on Christmas Eve so I missed hanging out with my family that night and eating the shrimp cocktail with them. When I got there my mother told me that my grandma wanted her to bring the shrimp cocktail to the airport for me. My mom said she didn’t but it was in the fridge for me when we got to the house. My husband is a vegetarian so he won’t eat it, but I cooked up 4 little shrimp just for me to eat along with some other little appetizers for our Christmas Eve dinner. We also Zoomed with my family and opened our Christmas presents together and finished off the night watching It’s a Wonderful Life.

Christmas Day was equally quiet, but also was a lovely, peaceful day. I know that orange rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning is a tradition in a lot of families. It never was in ours, but it always sounded like a tradition I wanted in on. So this year I made it happen for myself and made some orange rolls for breakfast. I also discovered that I actually really like egg nog this year. I didn’t really think that I did, but in my quest to be as festive as possible I decided I should buy some and figured out that I actually really like it. I’m definitely going to limit myself to one little quart of it though because it is not good for you at all. My husband and I opened the rest of our presents from each other and from his family. He was even super proud of himself because I made some off-hand comment about there never being anything in my stocking without knowing that he had already stuck a little something in mine for me. So I even had a little stocking present from Santa this year.

My family has never had a set meal for our Christmas dinner, so unlike at Thanksgiving where I wanted to make all our traditional Thanksgiving food for just the two of us I didn’t feel compelled to make anything in particular. I just knew I wanted it to be simpler than all the food I made at Thanksgiving. I settled on making an individual beef Wellington for me, a butternut squash Wellington for my vegetarian husband with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and roasted green beans and almonds. My husband ordered a lovely little floral centerpiece from our local florist and we had a beautiful Christmas table. We finished off our Christmas watching Wonder Woman 1984 while eating popcorn and pecan pie.

While none of this is how I would have expected to spend this Christmas at the beginning of the year it also had many quiet moments of joy and peace. I know for many this was a Christmas of unimaginable loss, struggle, and hardship. I am beyond grateful for all the blessings I have. As we finish out this impossibly hard year I wish everyone a brighter 2021.

My Morning Walk

I don’t even know who I am anymore. This pandemic has turned me into a person that gets up early to go for a walk before work. The exercise part is not new. I have always exercised on the regular. I just tended to mostly do it at the gym because I like things to be climate controlled. Actual pleasant weather in Baltimore where it’s not too hot and not too cold is rare most of the year so in the past I haven’t exercised outside that frequently.

Obviously that changed with COVID-19. I could no longer go to the gym every day. I would normally go after work because I am not a morning person. I’m sort of a middle of the road person as I’m not a super night owl either. I think my ideal sleep pattern if I didn’t have to get up for work would be midnight to 8 am, but I digress. When the pandemic first started I was still walking after work and some on my lunch breaks. Turns out it’s an effort to get the same number of steps I used to get when I went to work because I no longer have all the incidental steps I used to get going about my day just doing stuff like walking to meetings and between parking lots and buildings, etc.

That worked fine for awhile, but eventually it got too hot to realistically and comfortably exercise after work. So I started dragging myself out of bed before work to exercise in the morning before it was stupidly hot, and even then some days were pretty uncomfortable. I got used to doing my long walk in the morning so even when it turned cold I still kept going for my walk in the morning. I like being out in the morning when it’s quiet and there aren’t too many people out yet. I still go out for shorter walks during my lunch break or after work to help make up for those incidental steps I’m not getting working from home and it’s always a challenge to avoid people. I’ve also seen some really incredible sunrises on my walks, which is not something I ever really experienced before either because I was still asleep or just inside my house and not out looking at the sunrise.

I spent a stupid amount of money on cold weather exercise clothes and the face mask does double duty in protecting me from COVID and helping keep my face warm, so it hasn’t been as bad as I thought exercising outside in the winter yet. The snow and ice is going to be the biggest impediment to that because I’m not interested in breaking any limbs slipping on ice. So outdoor exercise might be off the table for awhile until the snow we’re getting right now goes away.

Of course don’t get me wrong. Once this pandemic is over and life gets a little more normal I’m likely to go back to my old ways. I might be a little more liberal about what I consider okay outdoor exercise weather, but I’ll probably return to the gym and after work exercise. Right now since I have no commute and don’t have to do things like make my lunch I’m really not getting up much earlier than I did pre-pandemic. While getting up at 6:30 hasn’t been terrible, I’m not willing to get up before 6 am to get a walk in before getting ready to go to work when I no longer work from home. I’ll continue to try and make the most of my outdoor morning walks while I’m still doing them though.

Moravian Love Feast

Wake Forest holds a Moravian Lovefeast every year on the first Sunday in December. It was started by some Moravian students back in 1965 and has become one of the longest running and most beloved traditions at the school. It was always my favorite event of the year when I was a student there.

There are Christmas carols sung by the choir, played on brass instruments, the organ, and played the handbell choir interspersed with short scripture readings and a very short reflection sermon. Towards the end of the service everyone partakes in the feast part of the Lovefeast which consists of a Moravian Lovefeast bun and Moravian coffee. The bun is a potato roll spiced with nutmeg and mace and citrus rind. The coffee is a super sweet and milky coffee. I don’t like coffee and even I didn’t mind drinking it. The feast is followed by the passing of candlelight with the beeswax candles everyone is given when entering. It was always so beautiful to stand there and sing together in a sea of candlelight

They’ve been livestreaming it for years, but I’m usually always so busy at this point in the year that I have never tuned in for it. This year I’m obviously not enjoying all my normal holiday fun, so I decided it would be the perfect year to finally participate. I had the idea that I would bake some Moravian Lovefeast buns, make some coffee, and order some of the beeswax candles online. I had no idea that the red wrap on the candles to catch the wax is actually a Moravian candle skirt. I always assumed it was a generic wax drip catcher and that it would be easy to find. It was not. I had to order them from a Moravian candle shop in Old Salem, NC.

I was going to take a little Lovefeast kit with all the stuff to my friend who also lives in the area and is a fellow alum. Great minds apparently think alike because she also bought some candles and sent them to me. She wanted to bake her own buns, so I didn’t wind up giving her anything. Hopefully next year we can celebrate it together. We texted each other during the service this year instead.

This year’s feast was obviously a bit different than normal due to COVID. There was a not a crowd of people gathered together inside Wait Chapel for the service. Instead everything was pre-recorded with only the people participating in putting on the service present, but not at the same time. Everyone was wearing masks and was well spaced out. The choir was spaced out in the audience part of the chapel rather than up on the stage. There was obviously no live serving of the feast or passing of the candlelight. Instead they interspersed some footage of those things from previous years with the choir singing.

It was not the traditional Lovefeast, but it was still lovely and it reminded me of what a wonderful tradition it is. I am hopeful that next year it will be able to return to normal. I’m thinking I would love to make some time in my always full December plans to invite some friends to my house next year to celebrate it with me. It would be wonderful to have friends share in the experience and to be able to pass the candlelight to someone rather than me just yelling at my cat to not jump in my lap while I’m holding a lit candle.

Advent in the Time of COVID

Usually the weeks leading up to Christmas are a whirlwind of activity. There are so many holiday related things I try to cram in every year including the Hampden Christmas parade, multiple annual holiday parties, baking Christmas cookies, Christmas shopping, and usually a couple of theatre performances plus whatever else might come along. That’s in addition to heading off to some other state for about a week to spend the holiday with either my family or my husband’s family.

This year aside from baking some Christmas cookies and doing a little online shopping none of that is happening. It’s obviously sad because these are all things I look forward to every year and bring me a lot of joy. Instead of spending the next several weeks ruing over the fact that I’m once again missing out on things due to COVID, I want to let this advent season be a time of rest, reflection, and anticipation.

Advent is all about waiting and expectation, but it is also about waiting on the unexpected and not having things turn out like we planned. Before Jesus the Israelites were expecting a savior to come down and overthrow the government that was oppressing them. What they did not expect was that their savior would come in the form of a baby who would grow up not to overthrow an earthly kingdom but to create a heavenly one while subverting many of the things they held to be true. He called them to be servants and to care for the poor and the marginalized. What they were anticipating did not look like what they were expecting.

Recently while we were all glued to social media and the internet waiting for the 2020 presidential election to be called I threw out a question on Facebook to have a little fun. I asked people to name something that used to bring them great joy but that people younger than them would never understand with the example of discovering a hidden track on a CD. The interesting thing that I found was that the majority of the responses people gave were based on anticipation for all kinds of things like not knowing who was at your door or calling you, waiting to develop photos to see what actually turned out, actually finding a new release movie in Blockbuster, standing in line to buy concert tickets, waiting to hear your favorite song the radio, and so much more. So much of our lives these days revolves around receiving instant gratification. We have forgotten that there can be great joy in waiting and anticipation.

This advent and Christmas season more than any other is all about the waiting and anticipation. We are all eagerly awaiting a time hopefully in the not too distant future where our lives will return to some semblance of normal. So this season while we’re all waiting I hope we can learn to wait in hope and eager expectation but not necessarily for the way things used to be. Let this be a time where we can stop and reflect on the future that Jesus came to create not one of earthly kingdoms but one of social justice and servanthood where we are focused on caring for the least of these while on this earth but also anticipating the heavenly kingdom he is preparing for us.

Things to Be Thankful For

I’ve done a couple posts over the course of the pandemic trying to remind myself that there are still good things in the world because a lot of the time these days it doesn’t feel like it. It’s especially hard to be thankful right now when we’re supposed to be thankful at Thanksgiving because all the usual traditions are being upended. Instead of spending the holiday with family and friends it will just be me and my husband. But I’m trying to put on my thankful hat and do another one of these posts on things that I’ve been thankful for recently. This is obviously not a comprehensive list of all the things I’m thankful for. Just ones that I’ve been thinking about in recent weeks.

  1. Online Game Night – Pretty much every Saturday since the pandemic began I’ve been hosting an online game night with some friends. We play a variety of casual games from board games where no one else needs access to the board, games that have online versions, and stuff inside the Board Game Arena website. There’s a core group of us every week with some other people who have come and gone or occasionally drop in. It’s a nice little social thing I can look forward to every week even if it’s not as good as getting to hang out in person. The benefit is that with these friends having kids and also all living out in Harford county I get to see them every week now instead of just the handful of times during the year we would normally manage to get our schedules to align. Who knows maybe we’ll still do it on occasion even after the pandemic is over.
  2. Thanksgiving food – Even though I will miss out on the other aspects of Thanksgiving, I’m still super excited for Thanksgiving food. I love Thanksgiving dinner and am very excited to dig into a big old plate of stuffing and mashed potatoes and some pumpkin pie which I will eat for breakfast for several days after the holiday. In addition to regular Thanksgiving I’m sad to also be missing all the annual Friendsgivings I’m a part of that allow me to eat even more Thanksgiving food. But don’t get me wrong this food only belongs in November in conjunction with Thanksgiving. That’s what makes it special.
  3. People trying to slow the spread of COVID – There aren’t enough of us, but I’m thankful for the other people that are sacrificing their holiday and many other things in their lives to help keep themselves and others safe. It’s a thankless job, but I see you.
  4. Vaccines – It’s absolutely incredible that we potentially have 3 highly effective vaccines that should hopefully be rolling out in the new year. It’s going to help us get our lives back so much quicker than if we had to wait for people to develop herd immunity naturally. Yay science!
  5. Biden’s Cabinet picks – It’s just so nice to not have to care that much about Biden’s Cabinet picks because he’s actually picking people qualified to do the jobs instead of political cronies who have no experience and/or just want to dismantle the organization they’ve been tapped to lead. Until this year I don’t think I’ve ever been thankful for a Cabinet pick, but now I am.