In my last blog, I reported on assorted “gifts” received during the first twelve days of Christmas. Since then, twelve more days have passed. Still no partridge in a pear tree, but much more to report.
On day thirteen, I awoke with a scratchy throat, diagnosed my illness as Covid-19 and positioned my fingers to dial 9-1-1. I then remembered that I possessed a miracle cure: a four- or five-year old bottle of Bisolvon Linctus Adulto. After using it for five years I looked up the words. Linctus means medicine in syrup form and Bisolvon–not sold in the United States–is for chest congestion and coughs. I bought these at a Portuguese pharmacy, where the pharmacists and I spoke Portuspanglese before they arrived at the proper diagnosis and prescription.
These patient souls, who in this tiny town in Eastern Portugal likely hadn’t seen a customer in months, gave me their full attention and sent me back to our hotel with this large bottle of liquid and some tablets. The next day my cold fled. I know doctors look down upon using old medicine, but I will be crushed when I run out of this miracle drug.
Day fourteen I felt fine.
Day fifteen, I rooted through drawers of card-making supplies and found enough odds and ends to assemble a variety of different sized cards. After creating several mock-ups I chose the one with the green tree and a very large, red bird. Later, recipient in Texas emailed: “Thanks for your lovely card with the giant Cardinal, I don’t believe any other bird will challenge his ownership [of the tree].” Then to compensate in case he’d hurt mine and the bird’s feelings he added, “We loved it.”
Day sixteen, after attaching my art to the cards, I realized I would have to write a message. By hand. But I no longer write in a way that resembles human handwriting. I can’t even decipher my grocery lists.
After mailing out cards in which my illegible penmanship could lead recipients to fear they’d received ransom notes or other threats, I invested in a resource to help me out. Now I can practice and be ready to write something they can read next December.
Day seventeen I celebrated the discovery of sugar. It came in the form of a mystery package loaded with candies, Rice Krispie-marshmallow bars, frosted cookies, and many other treats. The same evening, a neighbor brought over her special baklava, “layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup, frosting or honey.” The excitement of receiving so many sweet, surprise gifts was only slightly offset by the sugar high that followed.
Day eighteen I made oatmeal cookies, gave a dozen to a neighbor, and received a gift of expensive red wine in return.
Day nineteen I sat and watched the birds scramble for seeds and suet at our backyard feeders while I downed oatmeal cookies and some of the sugary treats.
Day twenty we went on a walk that took us through a local sports park. The day was sunny and warm(ish) and each of the park’s many baseball fields was filled with peewee players, laughing, shouting and having fun. At that moment, I realized I hadn’t witnessed a group of people having fun since March. It felt so…so…so normal.
Day twenty-one I picked up two mysteries from my library (you order ahead, set a pickup time and they hand you a sack through a window) plus a surprise bag of five books they chose for me based on the genre I specified. This month, I’m in the mood for mysteries, and as of day twenty-three I had nine.
Day twenty-two, a neighbor whose oven wasn’t working asked to borrow ours to bake, for us, the Christmas cardamom bread she’s been making since the nineteen seventies. It brought whole new meaning to “you bake-it” products.
On day twenty-three, we visited a popular garden store known for its festive decorations. The pandemic had led to cut backs in their displays, but it was still fun to see colors besides gray.
It’s day twenty-four and we’ve bought our groceries for tomorrow, and baked a cake filled with pears, apples, an orange, a lemon and nuts.
The most challenging year of our lives is coming to an end and we are grateful to have our health, food and a roof over our heads, aware that many cannot say the same.
Time to appreciate this season of reflection and gratitude.