So, is 2020 going down in your history book as the Worst. Year. Ever? Yeah, me too. Greg and I had so many health issues to deal with in 2019 that I thought for sure this year would be an improvement. I was wrong.
Yet even with all the challenges 2020 has brought, there also have been blessings. So I humbly thank God for all the good that I have witnessed:
- My husband is alive. Greg has been struggling with vertigo for years. He’s tried a variety of treatments, and they’ve all helped a little, but he still had debilitating balance problems that caused him to repeatedly fall and hit his head. His last hope was surgery for the spinal stenosis that the doctor determined was the cause of his problems. So on March 11, Greg went into the hospital for a discectomy and fusion from C-3 to C-6 (in his neck). We were assured that this was a routine procedure and he would be in the hospital for one night, two max. Unfortunately, Greg did not snap back after surgery. To make a long story short, he lost the ability to walk and to swallow, and he was extremely disoriented. Eight days after surgery he went into the ICU with aspiration pneumonia, influenza B, H1N1, and metabolic encephalopathy. The next day the hospital closed to visitors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It would be ten more weeks before we saw him again. Fifteen days after surgery they inserted a feeding tube into his stomach, and sent him to a skilled nursing facility. He came home at the end of May. He still has many physical challenges, but he is slowly improving.
- Greg and his brother have reconnected after very little contact for many years. When I didn’t know if Greg was going to pull through, I realized Peter would be devastated if he didn’t have a chance to talk to Greg. I decided to call and let him know Greg was very ill, so if he did pass away, Peter would at least have a little bit of time to process it. Peter and Greg were eventually able to talk to each other on the phone, and they’ve spoken every week since.
- My son is fully recovered from Covid-19. He’s the only member of our family who’s been stricken, and we were concerned because he’s diabetic. He took good care of himself, and we ran errands for him. (He lives nearby.)
- Friends reached out to us to offer assistance and make sure we’re okay. If I do have a need, I know multiple people I can call for help. I am so touched by the outpouring of love, not only to me, but throughout the country, as people cared for their neighbors.
- We have remained financially solvent through the pandemic so far. We have everything we need. We were able to contribute to the local food bank and also help our son, whose job was eliminated.
- Our other son was promoted in his job. It means a little more money for him, and a lot more responsibility, but it’s nice to see him recognized for his dedication and skill.
- We have hobbies and the time to pursue them. We are both retired teachers, and I am so relieved we don’t have to deal with the difficulties of working during a pandemic. I pray for all the people who are tasked with juggling extra duties and precautions, and I thank God for the people who are keeping our world running.
- Zoom. In March, my Bible study proposed we start meeting again via Zoom. I’d never heard of it, and I was reluctant to learn a new technology. But Zoom and other apps like GoToMeeting have been like a life preserver, allowing me to connect with people I care about (and also to see doctors remotely).
As much as I mourn the loss of life-as-we-knew-it, I am happy that I’m having positive experiences as well. We will get through this rough year if we reach out and help each other.
Thank you, God, for loving us and for your provisions for us. Help us to join in and help our neighbors negotiate this difficult time. Amen.
Now it’s your turn. What are you thankful for this year? Please share in the comments below.
More Sculpture Saturday.
Since my children were small, there’s been a basket in the corner of our living room filled with Christmas books. Some are children’s books, some are grownups’, some are fiction, some are non-fiction. They’ve been collected over decades, and I reread a few every year. I’ve even reviewed a few of my favorites.
I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story of my own. About a year ago I came up with an idea of a retelling of a classic Christmas tale—and that’s all I’m going to tell you about it, because I’m working hard at finishing it, and I’d really be bummed if you took my idea and did a better and quicker job of it than me.
Writing Christmas books is much like writing any other kind of book, but with a few slight differences. The same expectations for all fiction also apply to Christmas fiction: a vivid setting, a conflict, a main character who grows through time; a beginning, middle, and end; an arc with escalating action that leads to a satisfying conclusion. Christmas fiction also needs to evoke the feelings of the holidays, awakening associations through the senses: the twinkling lights, the smell of pine, the flavor of gingerbread, the sound of jingle bells. Christmas stories can be shorter than other novels, like 50,000 to 65,000 words rather than 90,000 to 300,000.
Christmas books generally sell from October through December. New Christmas books typically appear on shelves the first Tuesday in October. If you self-publish, you’ll want to launch in early October as well. Your book will languish from January through September, but you’ll be wise to self-promote it again starting each October.
Are you thinking of writing a Christmas book of your own? These articles may help you:
- Tips for writing Christmas novels.
- Four suggestions to make your Christmas story awesome.
- Lessons from A Christmas Carol.
- Charles Dickens’ motivation.
- Melody Carlson’s experience writing Christmas fiction.
- Some more things to consider.
- How did Christmas fiction become a thing?
- Christmas-themed prompts.
- The very best Christmas books. (Click the arrow next to “View gallery.” Keep clicking.
Look. Listen. Dream.
- Upcycling thrift store art.
- Interesting sculptures.
- Neil Young playing guitar.
- For the fiction writers: how to write cliffhangers.
- Bread as cartoons.
- A winter scene easy enough for a child (or an adult with a childlike sense of wonder) to paint.
- Beautiful zentangles.
- Using art to promote animal welfare.
- A beautiful Baltimore Album Quilt for autumn.
- The Comic Book Route in Brussels, Belgium.
- An artist discusses a marionette.
- Animal sculptures made from found objects.