An exciting event for me this past weekend; my best friend from high school was in Boston for the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party and was headed next to New York, so he stopped by my house to say hello. The last time we had seen each other was June 1974 at our graduation. I had found his email address in a directory and reached out. Shortly after, we had a long phone conversation to catch up from the 50-year gap in our collective time line. And that was great. But seeing each other? It was a wonderful gift and frankly, felt as if only mere weeks has passed us by, so strong was the connection from the past.
Christmas is precious few days away now – it will be the first ever without my son and the first in 14 years without my dear daughter-in-law and my beloved oldest grandson; and of course the first in 12 years without my middle grandson and first in 8 years without my sweet little granddaughter… But while they will not be here for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, they will be coming down shortly after and when they do, we will have Christmas Day #2 with them!!
Well, life has a way of keeping you on your toes. Christmas came and went and my kids from Maine were not able to come down. It has been a weird December, getting ready for Christmas without doing all the things we’ve done with our kids and grandkids all these years. Getting the tree was different – my grandkids have gone with us to pick out our tree every year for at least 13 years now. But not this year. So we started grandchild #4 on the tradition by taking him to help us select our tree and bring it home.
Christmas Eve continued its evolution as well. We used to go to my in-law’s house every Christmas Eve along with the whole family. But as one passed, and then the other, that tradition died out. Then we began going to my son’s home for Christmas Eve, but of course not this year as we are over 5-hours apart now. So instead, my wife and I went out and ate at our favorite Chinese restaurant. That may be our new tradition – we’ll see.
Christmas morning was very different for sure, with only my daughter, son in law, and our 2yo and 3mo little ones. At two (and almost a half) Teddy is just old enough to begin to appreciate Christmas. He still doesn’t fully grasp the magic of Santa and all the rest of it, but that will come. And his joy helped make the morning truly special. But there was an undeniable hole for all of us with the others being up in Maine. They did FaceTime us which was wonderful, and it was so good to see them all! But they were sure missed! But we had Christmas #2 yet to look forward to when they headed down to see us. And it was also Christmas Day when we found out they would not be able to make it here, and that was really a sad moment.
But have wheels, can travel; we are driving up to see them tomorrow. It’ll be a short visit due to weather forecasts – we’ll get there late afternoon and will be heading back home in the morning. But I am filled with great anticipation for the 4 or 5 hours we’ll have with them. The MINI will be packed to the gills for this trip!
Weather here has been much more October/November like than three days from January; temp’s routinely in the 40’s and even the 50’s – no snow (aside from flurries for 5 minutes one day) – quite a bit of rain, and nighttime temp’s rarely dipping below freezing. I am not trying to attach any significance to this, merely reporting what I am seeing. It may mean we’re in a warmer weather cycle (as seemingly evidenced by global temps for the year). It may also mean that seasons have shifted and winter may not really arrive here until deep into January; which means Spring might not arrive until well into April or even May!! Now if only I could break free more often to get out and hike!!
This post was begun at least a week before Christmas and it is now January 3, so a lot of time has passed by in between! So here I am again, back from our Christmas #2 in Maine and it was wonderful! We had snow on the drive up and it continued to snow when we arrived, so it was a “white Christmas” for us all. An awesome afternoon and evening with my Wolf pack of the North: opening presents, catching up, a delicious Christmas dinner, and a lot of laughter, hugs, and tears. We said our goodbyes and are already looking forward to our next visit!
I got out for a great 13-mile hike on New Year’s Day. Finding my legs getting more tired than what I am accustomed to, at least in the past. I suspect age may be creeping in, but to be fair to myself, I only hiked twice in November and twice in December, whereas I was hiking at least once a week, and more at times, in the summer. So part of my legs getting tired could well be due to lack of hiking as much. Use it or lose it has become a motto of mine in these senior years! And honestly, that applies to more than seniors and to more than physical exercise. It is as important, perhaps more so even, to continue to read, to study, to ask, to learn, to grow throughout our lifetimes. We need to grow intellectually as well as spiritually.
I once wrote of mental yoga, a term I coined to describe the need to avoid becoming rigid, biased, and close-minded as we age. Time changes everything but we often get “stuck” in thinking along the same lines we are used to. To embrace and be a part of society at any age, we have to be open-minded and willing to recognize new ideas. We don’t have to agree, but we have to respect other’s rights to have those ideas. Intolerance is often a symptom of a person who has stopped questioning and has stopped learning; racism as well, but I deeply believe that racism has its deepest roots in a close-minded upbringing – a learned behavior and way of thinking.
Anyway, mental yoga simply means paying attention, wondering, questioning, and trying to understand what we don’t. I swear I spend as much time on Google searching things I don’t know as I spend doing anything else on the internet. I play puzzles, all shapes and sizes, to at least try to hone my tired old gray matter and keep sharp.
Speaking of trying to maintain while aging, my PSA remains high. I met with my urologist yesterday and we’ve decided to do a MRI before deciding to do another biopsy. I hope to get this behind me (pun intended) as quickly as possible. I am quite certain that I am only experiencing a momentary spike in the PSA values, and that the MRI will confirm that there is nothing worrisome to be found, and that the PSA values will return to lower levels in a few short months. In the interim, I plan to try to hike as much as I can!! Stay well dear reader!