It’s New Year’s Eve. I ate too much Indian food from Noor Jahan that was crazy spicy and delicious, followed by a scoop of ice cream, which completely put me over the limit. My oldest is at our pod family’s house for a sleepover and the rest of us are watching “The Witches” (2020 version), which obviously I’m now only half watching. Oh and yes, more champagne, because why not. I’ve already over indulged at this point.
1) Like everyone else, I’m saying a big buh-bye to 2020. I’m ready for a clean slate and a brand new year with less horribleness. But dare I say that 2020 wasn’t all bad for me. As a not-so-subtle introvert, the isolation of the pandemic didn’t crush me and even invigorated me at times. I relished in the intimacy of my immediate family, I evaluated and re-evaluated, cleaned and threw out, spent less and saved more, and spent time that I wouldn’t have otherwise carved out- talking on the phone with faraway friends.
2) I did a lot of podcast listening this year. My favorite podcast line from this year is from the first season of Breakdown. I don’t remember the quote in it’s exact form, but it’s something along the lines of, “you can probably imagine that confrontations that start with the words ‘red-headed crack whore’ usually don’t end well.”
I’m now on Season 2 and at least so far, the podcast is a great investigative journalism series with a narrator who seems down to earth and has a somewhat nerdy and non-pretentious voice.
3) I did an embarrassing amount of puzzling this year. My favorite pieces (in terms of texture, feel, weight, because now I am a connoisseur and can evaluate such things) were the Piecework brand puzzles, a fancy-ish boutique line of puzzles that have chic images. These puzzles are on the difficult side, but not enough to take the enjoyment out of putting them together.
I think my favorite one to work on was this Edward Gorey image, because of the pieces (Pomegranate puzzles have a nice feel, too) but because the image is so quirky. The kids and I had fun imagining the different back stories of the random people.
4) And a lot of TV watching. My favorite show, which I stopped watching in early 2020 because… too close for comfort… but started up again recently is The Handmaid’s Tale. Riveting! Intelligent! Weirdly visually beautiful! Storytelling at it’s best.
A second favorite was His Dark Materials, because I am a sucker for fantasy and anything that involves children on a quest and animals and magic and perfectly evil characters who you love to hate is right up my alley. Oh and The Queen’s Gambit, oh my gosh. An absolute must.
5) My favorite book of the year is hands down “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a book I talked about in the October List, but the one above, “Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” is the one I read this month and it was the perfect holiday break read – a “light” murder mystery based in Denver. The central character works at a used bookstore. The ending was a bit tidy, but forgivable.
6) I haven’t made homemade mac n’ cheese for years because the kids don’t like it. The little one decided she wanted to give it another shot, so I took out my tried and true Martha Stewart recipe and whipped it up. Holy cow, it is SO good. The big kid still doesn’t like it, but the 9-year-old loved it, so majority rules and I will be adding it to our rotation.
7) I ventured out of Grosse Pointe (ha) to Detroit’s West Village to get my hair cut and colored. The folks at Village Parlor did such a great job, I am SO happy. He took the stupid triangle weight off my hair (finally! thank you!) which means that I can air dry it again with no issues and the color gal spent an extra hour fixing my color because she wanted to get it right.
8) The girls woke us up at 6:40 am on Christmas morning. They actually woke up much earlier, but gave us some extra time to sleep (although I did hear banging of doors at about 5:45 am and never fully went back to sleep after that). It was a low-key, lazy day, which is normal for us and just how we like it.
9) Christmas bonus: waking up to snow! The forecast called for a chance of rain and a smaller chance of snow, and then on Christmas Eve my phone app showed no sign of either, so I assumed we’d get nothing. But around 10:00 pm it started to lightly snow and our white Christmas wish came true (score another point for 2020).
10) On Christmas night we went to our pod family’s house for dinner. (Side note: I think everyone knows what a pod family is by now, but basically the family we have been allowing ourselves to see and be close to since Covid. It’s worked out well.)
We provided dinner this year, due to an incident during my husband’s college years. The story goes that one day my husband brought home a Honey-Baked ham, announcing to his roommates that it was hands off, then put it in the freezer. Long story short, his roommate chipped away at it little by little, day after day, until it was completely gone.
Out of the blue, a week before Christmas my husband received a text that we would be getting a full holiday meal – ham, sides and a pie – delivered to our door on Christmas Eve, to make up for his roommate’s eating of the ham many years ago. A great story and the meal was great and fed all of us!
11) One of my Christmas gifts was the cookbook “Flavor.” I’d seen a recent post on a friend’s Instagram about eggplant dumplings she and her boyfriend made and had been dying to try them since then. Serendipitously, the exact recipe they made can be found in my new cookbook, so I took it as a sign and promptly shopped for the ingredients and made the dish.
The process was more involved than I usually like, but the result was really, really yummy AND the husband who has professed his dislike of eggplant many times, loved it. Winning.
12) I’m trying to think of another favorite to share or a song that sums up my year or some funny quip about what I won’t miss about 2020, but I can’t. One thing that 2020 has done is zapped my brain. And I’m okay with it. When my mind says “I’m done,” I let it be done. Sometimes stopping when you need to stop is just as valuable as forcing yourself to persevere. A lesson learned in 2020 that I’d like to carry into the next decade.
So my number 12 on the December List is I’m done for the year. Later, 2020. I remain hopeful for the future in spite of foreseeable hardships. I truly wish that 2021 brings you happiness, peace and so much comfort, which we all so desperately need – Happiest New Year wishes to all.