End-of-December and 2020 Reflections

Well, it’s been quite the year hasn’t it? Truly we never know what a day—or a year—will bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). Much has been written about the pandemic and other events of the year, so I won’t reiterate them here. Probably the top takeaways for me this year are:

  • Hold plans loosely.
  • God is still in control. Life’s circumstances have not taken him by surprise.
  • We walk the same way we do in any circumstances—by faith.
  • Listen more, assume less.

Thankfully, our family had a couple of excursions right before the lockdowns began. That helped the initial isolation not feel as bad. My husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary from last December a little late and went to the Gatlinburg/Sevierville/Pigeon Forge area in January to stay in a nice, cabin-like hotel, eat at a nice restaurant, attend a couple of attractions, and reread some love notes from college days. Then in February we visited the Biltmore House and Downton Abbey exhibit with all the family except my oldest, who lives out of state.

A friend and I went out for lunch during the early days of the virus and discussed it and what effects it might have. We had no idea it would be so widespread and last so long. But we were glad that we had that time together right before it.

Thankfully, my husband and three sons could all work from home for the most part. Jason, my middle son, had to go in a lot during December, their busiest time of the year. Because we were all isolating, we felt safe getting together (the strictest regulations here so far limited gatherings to ten, and we’re only seven when all together). My oldest son missed his April visit, but came in August and December via train, mostly on a sleeper car. So he hardly saw anyone on the trip, which he felt was safer (though much longer) than flying. Those gatherings and Zoom church sustained us.

We had some health issues: the atrial fibrillation which I had surgery for three years ago started up again and landed me in the ER twice. I have follow-up appointments in the next couple of weeks to see what we should do about that. The last hospital visit exposed us to COVID, as a nurse who talked about isolating from family because she worked with COVID patients kept pulling down her mask as she talked. That was the week before Jeremy’s scheduled train trip here, which made for some uncertainty. But we got a rapid COVID test the day before he was supposed to leave, and new guidelines said no symptoms and a negative test from day 5 or later after exposure only required a week’s quarantine, so we were good to go—and very thankful.

Normally I include “Timothyisms” in my monthly posts—quips from my six-year-old grandson. The only one I noted this time was when we were isolating due to one of Jason’s coworkers testing positive for COVID. They had helped us put up and decorate the Christmas tree earlier, and as we FaceTimed, I showed Timothy some of the presents accumulating under it. He said, “Granddad Claus is coming to town!”

We send store-bought Christmas cards to loved ones, but I make them for the immediate family. I try to incorporate their favorite colors and interests.

This was Jim’s:

The little squares were made with the Cuttlebug embosser.

This was for Jeremy, who likes foxes:

The background was embossed, and the fox and trees came from a scrapbook paper set. The Merry Christmas was a sticker.

This was Jason’s:

He likes blue, and I am often drawn to cheery, whimsical ideas for him. The words at the bottom were on a sticker.

This was for Mittu, my daughter-in-law, who likes purple:

The idea I had seen on Pinterest (where I get most of my inspiration) showed a tree made with heart-shaped cutouts. I decided to add the glitter-frosted edges. I liked it better before I added the Merry Christmas sticker at the bottom, but I couldn’t remove it once I glued it on.

This was Timothy’s:

I saw the idea here (via Pinterest) for using shapes to create the penguin. But mine must have been shaped a little differently—it didn’t look right to try to make it short and squatty like hers. But I thought it turned out cute. I had to get Jesse to help me with the eyes: I just couldn’t get something that tiny cut out and glued on. I wished later I had outlined the little sign so it stood out better.

This was Jesse’s:

And this was for our anniversary:

I usually list what we’ve been watching in these posts, but we haven’t watched much out of the ordinary the last two months (I missed November–there just wasn’t a good time to work an end-of-month post in). I’m still working through the Lark Rise to Candelford series while using the exercise bike. Somehow we didn’t watch any of the usual Christmas movies or specials. We streamed The Croods: A New Age and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey to watch with the family. They were . . . okay. My husband and I watched Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors when it was on TV one night and were surprised that network TV allowed such upfront messages about faith and eternal destiny. I wouldn’t take all my theology from the movie, but the message of the need to trust in God was clear.

I won’t list the books reads in November and December since I just posted all the books I read this year as well as my top twelve.

And, since this is an end-of-year post, instead of listing posts from the last two months, I thought I’d look back at the posts from the year that seemed to resonate the most with readers. My five most-read posts of the year are:

I’m thankful people found something useful there. I need to go back and remind myself of some of those truths.

It’s hard to end the year with a sense of closure and look to 2021 as bright and shiny and new when so many of this year’s problems remain: the pandemic and its physical, emotional, and economic toll, the civil and racial strife and unrest, a new administration with alarming values. But my Daily Light on the Daily Path entry for this morning was all about God bearing His people as on eagle’s wings. My Bible reading in Exodus 33 told of the time just after Israel made and worshiped the golden calf instead of God. He was going to send them on to the promised land, but not go with them Himself because they were a stiffnecked people. But Moses pleaded, and God promised, “‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he [Moses] said to him [God], ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here'” (verses 14-15). Whatever happens in the coming year, we can rely on God’s presence and depend on Him to bear us up.

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements)

Cards Made in December

I’ve written end-of-month posts this year, but I didn’t for December. There just wasn’t time, plus I figured most of us were doing the same things: getting ready for and then celebrating Christmas.

One thing I mention in those end-of-month posts is the books I read. Most of December’s reading was for the Literary Christmas challenge: one Christmas novel and three collections of Christmas stories or novellas. But I also finished up The Gilded Age by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner and Shakespeare’s King Lear, both audiobooks, to complete the Back to the Classics Reading Challenge. Plus I finished the devotional book I had been reading all year, Seasons of the Heart.

At the end of the month I also share any cards I’ve made that month. December was a busy month for card-making.

This one was for my husband for our 40th anniversary. It’s supposed to look like a bouquet of balloons. It didn’t come out quite as I had hoped, but my husband liked it.

I buy Christmas cards to mail out, but I make cards for the immediate family. Only once before have I had a theme in making Christmas cards, and that was snow people. This year, as I looked at the design ideas I had accumulated on Pinterest, I saw several that looked like ornaments. So I decided to use that idea. I had a Cuttlebug embosser that looked like a fir tree, so I used that for all of the backgrounds.

The design I used for Jim’s and Jeremy’s came from a free pattern I used for felt ornaments for Timothy a few years ago. I just loved both of these designs and was glad to have a chance to use them again.

Jim’s:

I used this for Jeremy because he likes foxes, but this ended up looking more like a dog. I could not find a single rust-colored paper or card stock in Hobby Lobby or my own collection. I’ll have to stock up next fall.

I think Jason likes designs that are a little playful, so this one seemed perfect. I used stick-on felt for the snowman and card stock for the bird. The eyes and smile were stick-on beads.

Mittu likes purple, and one of their Christmas trees was white, so this seemed like a good combination for her. I cut strips from various pieces of scrapbooking paper and glued them side by side for the design.

The snow people on Timothy’s were made with stickers. I was delighted to find some that represented their family.

And this is Jesse’s, cut from a piece of glittery cardstock. The word is a sticker.

I had thought about coming back and adding a word at the top of each card, but there just wasn’t time.

Finally, this card was for my step-father’s after-Christmas birthday. The design was all done on the Cricut.

So that was my month in card-making! It was a busy one. But there are none to be made in January, so I’ll have a bit of a rest before February’s Valentine cards.

(Sharing with Create, Bake, Grow, Gather)