Back in the Day

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

This week, in a normal year (remember those?), I would have donated and helped hand out canned goods and coats at the mission down the street. I would have picked up a fresh turkey, fresh cranberries, baking and sweet potatoes, spinach, corn, and the ingredients for baking bread, muffins, and pumpkin pies for Christmas dinner.

If it was my turn to host our family, the white linen tablecloth and napkins would be pressed, white candles bought, the good plates washed and the silver polished. I would have gathered greenery, berries, and picked grape leaves from the grapevines in the courtyard to decorate the grapevine wreaths on my front door and the kitchen door. I love Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the appropriate-sized baking pans, bowls, pots, and cooking utensils would be washed and ready for morning. Cookbooks propped open to favorite family recipes, piled one on top of the other in order of preparation, would wait on the oak table in my kitchen. The aroma of simmering cinnamon sticks, cloves, cranberries, and orange peel would fill my home as I wait for my children to arrive. I’m happiest when surrounded by my children and family.

Around 8 in the morning, still in my pajamas with a good café con leche, food prepping would begin–cutting, chopping, dicing, boiling mashing, sautéing, and blanching—with Christmas music playing in the background. My children would join me later in the kitchen. We have wonderful memories of Christmases past.

Christmas 2020 will be different.

This Christmas season, I’m blessed to spend time with my daughter and her boyfriend and we will sorely miss my son and his girlfriend. We will miss family. The separations will remind us how different this holiday season is, but what is normal this year? Not much. Our lives will never be the same…and if I think on it, for some of us, that’s a very good thing. Change is good. And Lord knows, this nation needs drastic changes.

Despite the challenges, heartaches, and anxiety of 2020, we shall make new memories, have fun, take photographs to share with each other at a later time, and count ourselves truly blessed.

From my home to yours, I wish you a safe and healthy holiday season. Stay safe.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”, edited by Mayra Calvani.

Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico, and a collection of poems, titled “Thoughts on Near-Fictional Relationships”. The poems are about the many facets of love, which often remind her of the complicated relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

Thanksgiving 2020 – Blessings and Necessary Sacrifices

4 am, Thanksgiving morning.

** This morning, I discovered this blog post was not published. I know. My brain feels fuzzy and my sleep patterns have been disrupted this holiday season. To be sure, it’s way too early to be up. I guess old habits die hard.

On this American holiday, I give all thanks to the Native American community and their ancestors. I think of the Spaniards, who settled in Florida and founded St. Augustine, America’s oldest city, in September 1565. One hundred years before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. One hundred years. It is more than time to rewrite American history books.

This holiday season, as Covid-19 rampages across this country, some people still refuse to wear masks and practice social distance. Airports are filled with passengers traveling home for the holiday. I will celebrate alone. In quarantine without my children and my family. For the first time. No cooking, no baking. No laughter in my kitchen, no stories around the dinner table. If I’m entirely honest, I will endure the day. Too dramatic? Yeah, it is.

Like me, millions of parents and grandparents are without their beloved children and cherished grandchildren today. Most parents won’t know what the hell to do with themselves. Millions of young adults are away from their families and friends. Many single folks, who’ve lived alone for years and years, will really feel alone today. I feel you.

All this makes me sad and nostalgic. I’m grieving the past. No one told me this would happen in my 60s and the only way I know how to snap out of this is to acknowledge my feelings, write it out, and count my many blessings.

I’m alive. Today, I woke up relatively healthy and virus-free. Thankfully, so are my children and family members. That’s why I’m celebrating Thanksgiving alone this year–I want to see my daughter and her boyfriend at Christmas (we’ll isolate for two weeks beforehand and drive to our rented cabin), and I want to see my son and his girlfriend in 2021. The only way to do that is to isolate myself along with my baby, my quarantine buddy, my Chihuahua named Sophie.

We are very fortunate. Today, many Americans don’t have roofs over their heads, they are out of work, and no paychecks are coming in. Families are going hungry and businesses are shuttering their doors. Please consider donating to the many organizations feeding people this holiday season and beyond.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have tragically died and hundreds of thousands more are suffering with the virus. A dear friend and his wife are currently battling the virus and I’m very worried about them. People are dying alone. Family members are saying their last goodbyes to loved ones over cell phones and laptops. It’s horrendous, unimaginable, yet it’s happening across this nation and around the world. Our heroes, the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, are exhausted and emotionally traumatized.

For the sake of your family members and friends, strangers, and hospital personnel, stay home. It’s one day. A long weekend for some. As my friend said, “Better to miss Thanksgiving this year than to be ventilated in ICU for Christmas and the new year.” Amen.

Stay safe. January 20, 2021 can’t come soon enough.

Eleanor x

ABOUT ELEANOR:

Puerto Rican-born Eleanor Parker Sapia is the author of the multi-award-winning novel, “A Decent Woman”, published by Winter Goose Publishing. Eleanor’s debut novel, set 1900 Puerto Rico, garnered awards at the 2016 and 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is featured in the anthology, “Latina Authors and Their Muses”, edited by Mayra Calvani.

Eleanor is working on her second novel “The Laments”, set in 1926 Puerto Rico, and a collection of poems, titled “Thoughts on Near-Fictional Relationships”. The poems are about the many facets of love, which often remind her of the complicated relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.