ENOUGH

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I’m writing this post on New Year’s Day and thinking about all that occurred in 2020.  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit shell shocked from the past 12 months.  We had such high hopes going into the year – a new decade before us seemed so full of potential.  The biggest controversy a year ago was the guy buying his wife a Peloton for Christmas.  Little did we know that he would turn out to be the smartest guy in the room.  We got a bit of foreshadowing of a bad year when Kobe died in January but we persevered, thinking it was a one-off piece of bad news.  Then in March, everything shifted and life as we knew it changed.  But for better or worse, we’ve made it through and with a vaccine on the horizon I am hopeful for a better year.  Or, more realistically, a better half year.  I’ve resigned myself to the notion that the first half of 2021 is going to look a whole lot like 2020.  Still, it’s a new year and worthy of some resolutions.

NOT me after months of being at home

With the new year approaching there are lots of people opining about how to make 2021 a better year.  The best piece of advice I read was to find your “enough”. Not as in, “I’ve had enough cake” because we all know there is no such thing.  Instead, the author suggested that we all learn to be grateful for having “enough” of something – food, shelter, friendship, health, money.  Personally, I think 2020 was a good year for analyzing my “enough”.  Watching innumerable people lose jobs, and subsequently housing and security, made me more grateful than ever for a roof over my head and knowledge that I had “enough” to weather the COVID storm.  I learned that I had “enough” hobbies to entertain myself for endless days/weeks/months without going completely batshit crazy.  I had “enough” self-discipline to log 13,000 steps every day this year with one exception (I can be forgiven – I had minor surgery that day).  Prior to March I wouldn’t have known that about myself but now I’m pretty proud that I did not slink into a vegetative state on my couch watching the entire “Tiger King” series.

Most importantly, 2020 taught me that I have “enough” family and friends.  My husband and Dash The Wonder Dog have been great company over the past several months, providing support, laughs and a reason to go for a walk every day.  My friends have also been a source of support this year.  I have “enough” good friends to render me one of the luckiest people around.  I read an article from Instyle magazine that posed the idea that 2020 allowed you to narrow down your true friends by using the yardstick of who you would allow to see you topless.  I’m thinking that the average age of an Instyle reader is 19, so maybe that makes sense for them.  I can tell you at age 70, NO ONE wants to see me topless so my friends might be narrowed by those I would spare that visual.  In any event, 2020 brought into focus who I really treasure spending time with and that is a good guidepost going forward.

Had we all known a year ago what we were to face, I suspect we would have thought we couldn’t get through it. But the last 12 months has taught us that we have more grit, resilience, patience, and strength than we gave ourselves credit for.  In truth, we had “enough” to get through it and we are better off now for knowing that.

I hope that 2021 brings all of you “enough” of all the things that matter to you.  While we still have a few months to go before there is some semblance of normalcy, there is hope on the horizon and for now, that is enough.

We’re All Singing the Betwixmas Blues

by Bob Sparrow

Yes, Betwixmas is a word . . . sort of – it’s the term used for the six days between Christmas and New Year’s Day – and we are now in it up to our masks.    There are names for two of these six days that bookend Betwixmas; at the beginning, December 26 is ‘Boxing Day’, which is not celebrated in America, but mostly in England and its former Commonwealth satellites (Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Hong Kong).  It started out as a day to honor servants and those less fortunate by giving them a ‘box’ of something of value.  It then morphed into a shopping holiday (apparently, they said, ‘screw the servants’) where one would take back the ‘boxes’ of whatever they got for Christmas and exchange them for a box of something they really wanted (Maybe we do celebrate it here in America after all).  At the other end of Betwixmas is, of course, New Year’s Eve; never before will so many people really mean it when they say “Happy New Year”!!! But those four days in between, particularly this year, will drive you crazy enough to actually try to eat your grandma’s brick-hard fruitcake that you got again this Christmas.

Betweixmas is a time when we really don’t know what day it is,  who you are or what you’re really supposed to be doing.  There is no school and no one is really working.  If someone goes into the office during Betwixmas, it’s not to work, it’s just to get away from the spouse and/or kids, that have been driving them crazy since the Covid outbreak.

Paradoxically, the shortest day of the year was just last Monday, so the days should seem to just fly by, but no, these days drag on and makes Betwixmas seem interminable.  Typically, it’s the time to relax after the Christmas ‘rush’ and get ready to usher in a new year, a different year, anything but what we’ve been experiencing, so this Betwixmas drags on even more than normal.

Snow Angel

The result of these shiftless days are things like creating New Year’s resolutions that are unrealistic and completely unattainable.  To wit:  you’re probably going to be a little heavier by this time next year.  That home gym that you built this year will go mostly unused next year.  You’re not going to be a better person next year, you’re going to be about the same, and you’re going to be no more organized next year than you are this year.

Usually, the novelty of the kids being home during Christmas vacation calls for some family activity – heading to the mountains to frolic in the snow, visiting Disneyland or if you’re a fan, going to a college football bowl game.  But there’s no snow in the local mountains, Disneyland is closed and the general public is not allowed to attend a college football game.  We are doomed to spend Betwixmas just like we’ve spent the last nine months – in house arrest.

So, one would think that this would have been a good time for a blog that’s really entertaining; a missive filled with little-known facts of interest that would take your mind off the tedium of the times.  But no, it’s a match for the times.

Merappy Betwixmas

 

Could This Be Your Most Memorable Christmas?

by Bob Sparrow

Like everything else in 2020, I’m guessing Christmas this year will be a little different for you.  Probably fewer people gathered together, maybe a change from the regular venue, Santa could be wearing a mask instead of a beard and perhaps the gifts given and received might be a little different, as suggested by Suzanne last week.  But I have no doubt that the ‘Christmas Spirit’ will prevail – assuming you don’t run out of Christmas ‘spirits’.  If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes we need a change of routine in order to appreciate the routine.

So, as we prepare for whatever this holiday will bring, I can’t help but recall my most unusual Christmas – it took place in 1968.  As a backdrop for those who weren’t around then or as a stark reminder to those who were, 1968 was a crazy year!  The U.S. was ass-deep in a very unpopular Viet Nam war, causing unrest on college campuses in the form of protests and draft card burning.  Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated; the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace to be elected to his first term as president, streets were filled with civil and gender-rights protests – some not so peaceful, 82 crewmen of the USS Pueblo were held captive most of the year by North Korea; Mao Tse-Tung celebrated 20 years as communist leader of China and the Zodiac killer (who has yet to be found to this day) is on the prowl in California. In December of that year, three Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders, became the first to circle the moon, in preparation for the first moon landing seven months hence.

Don and me in front of house in Atsugi, Japan.  Dec. 1968

In 1968 I was an Ensign in the Navy (ours!) and in July of that year I received orders for Atsugi Naval Air Station, Japan.  By December, my wife and I and our dog, Xoon, were living in a small, two-bedroom house, surrounded by Japanese neighbors, about four miles from the base on Dog School Road – apparently, there was a dog school nearby; I’m not sure if it was a pre-school or a pee-school.  Thousands of miles from home in a foreign country, we were planning for a fairly lonely Christmas, our first and only one without family or friends.  Then, about two weeks before Christmas, I got a letter (no cell phones or even email in those days) from my best friend, Don Klapperich, who was a Navy F-4 jet pilot, assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Coral Sea.  He wrote that their ship, that had been on combat duty in the South China Sea, was coming into Yokohama for Christmas, and that their squadron (VF-151) allowed them to send for their wives to spend the holidays in Japan.

What great news!!!  What was going to be a very dismal Christmas, just got significantly better.  Don was not only my best friend, but my singing partner from high school, and since he had his guitar with him (not in his aircraft, but on the ‘boat’) and I had mine, Christmas Eve found the four of us gathered around our ‘space heater’ chatting and singing songs, which I recorded on a reel-to-reel tape.  I still have the recording, which I converted to a CD, and when I listen to it today, it takes me back to that most-unusual Christmas far from home.

That cold Christmas morning we woke up to no presents under no tree and no stockings hung by the chimney with care – we had no chimney.  But we did exchange gifts, then drove to the Officer’s Club on base, which had a TV, in order to watch our astronauts circle the moon and provide us with that iconic ‘Earth Rise’ photo.

Iconic ‘Earth Rise’ photo – December 1968

As we headed back home for the evening, we looked to the sky and saw a bright, crescent moon and marveled that three astronauts were up there circling it.  So, when I was expecting a lonely Christmas far from home, it turned out to be one of my most memorable Christmases ever.

My point, and I apologize for the rather circuitous route in getting to it, is that this Christmas will undoubtedly be different, presumably like no other you’ve ever or will ever experience, but with a little luck and a positive attitude, it may turn into a Christmas you’ll never forget – in a good way.

We’d love to hear how you’re planning to make this Christmas a pleasantly, different one.