“Molly Campbell's witty, intelligent, and heartfelt musings have made me fall in love with the accordion all over again.”
Josh Brener, Actor, soon to be seen in the new TBS Series “Glory Daze,” as Zach Miller. 

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TODAY, TOMORROW, AND THE NEXT DAY

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For many of us, these are uncomfortable times. The future looks murky; and we face the next few years with at best, some anxiety, and at worst, full blown fear. It is difficult to be a writer of humor at the moment. Nothing seems funny. In order to perk myself up, I have cobbled together my own set of coping strategies. I think all of us who feel as I do are doing the same. I thought I would share, even though nothing about them is funny.

I have decided to stop feeling guilty about certain behaviors. Instead of thinking of myself as a “slugabed,” I now feel that drinking coffee against a pile of pillows with a crowd of cats, listening to podcasts in the morning instead of leaping out of bed to “greet the day” is good for my soul. The fact that I have coffee stains on the front of all of my pjs, and I imbibe cat hair along with caffeine is of no consequence.

I take my time getting dressed. Not because I have all sorts of wardrobe decisions to make. Nope. I wear the same jeans, sweatpants, and tee shirts that I have been putting on forever. But now I look in the mirror and study my face as I rub in the “anti-aging” cream and try to note if it is effective. I give myself “mirror facelifts” and wish I looked that taut. I root through my sock drawer, wondering how much longer I should wait for the mate to that argyle sock to show up before I throw it away. As I pull the shirt over my head, I imagine what it might be like to be blind. I look at the bedspread and try to lose myself in the pattern of flowers and leaves. I rearrange the seven throw pillows. I admire my own decorating skills.

Downstairs, as I push the Swiffer around, I think about all of the millions of people who agree with me politically, and who won’t sit still for injustice or having a tyrant in charge. That gives me strength.

Then I take a deep breath. I think of what makes up the dust that I am gathering-could it be particles of the people who lived in this house a hundred years ago?

I think about those people, and what worried them. Disease-the kind that overcame children and swept them away, or crippled them. The Great Depression–what sorts of economies did the people who lived here practice? Did they worry about what they would eat? Did they sit by this fireplace, darning socks and feeling chilly, because they couldn’t afford all that expensive coal for the furnace? Did they think that things would never look up again?

I look out the window at the tree in my back yard that must be at least a hundred years old. Did a little girl, long dead, run around the base of it, humming? Did some fearless little boy try to climb it? How many bird’s nests have been in it? Then I think about what this house must have looked like when it was newly built in 1912, all bright and shiny–the tree in the back yard just a little sapling from the nursery. The bannister didn’t creak. The family that built it proud of all the latest things, like the sink in the guest bathroom, which is now an antique. Those people loved this house. They were happy here. Life went on then, as it will now.

Sometimes, I like to listen to classical music. Wait. There has always been music! Nobody stopped writing music. Even in the midst of World War Two, people wrote beautiful music. And words. Books were written. Poetry. Nothing stops us from creating beauty, even in times of terrible stress. Another deep breath.

These are the things I dwell on now. And when a headline stabs me or worry starts to creep in, I look out the window again. And I breathe.

 

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IT’S OVER

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All the good stuff is over. Christmas is over. New Year’s Eve is over. The fun part of winter-the part where we are excited for snow and the holidays-that’s over. The election is over, and 65 + million of us think the world as we know it might be over.

This is the time when days are unbearably short. The furnace is on all the time, so everybody has dry, itchy skin. Cabin fever. Crockpots and Instant Pots bubble along on all the countertops, because STEW. It’s hard to roll over in bed, because all the cats and dogs are on there with you.

This is the time of year when I wish my husband liked to play games. In all of my favorite books, when the holidays and all the good stuff are over until Spring, couples sit in front of the fireside and play Whist (I have no idea what that is), Pinochle, Cribbage, or Scrabble. Or they put together a huge jigsaw puzzle. It’s cozy and brings out conversation, emotional connection and subdued laughter. It’s a fantasy.

Over here, one of us sits by the fire, all right. Looking down at either an iPhone or Mac Book Air. The other one sits in a chair, glued to yet another device. No conversation. No eye contact. Occasionally, somebody murmurs something, turns on a video, or coughs.

I suggested a rousing game of Dominoes just last evening, and my spouse looked at me incredulously and asked if I was okay. I sighed. Then I looked down at my phone and played a few rounds of Solitaire.

Yup. The good part of Winter is truly over. Anybody out there know how to play Whist? Is it fun? Do men like it? Wait. How do you play Poker?

 

 

 

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I OPENED THE WINDOW AND IN FLU ENZA

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Happy New year. ugh

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TRANSITIONING

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This will be the first year that we will not have our children here at home for Christmas. This is something that most families face—only the lucky ones all live in the same town forever.

Not having a “family” Christmas sparks all sorts of things. The big tree stays in the attic, along with all of the historical, family ornaments. Or, the historical family ornaments are sorted through and dispersed to the children, for whom they have the most meaning. Instead of adorning every single room with holiday festoons and seasonal accessories, there is instead one little tree in the front window, and a wreath on the door. So much easier to put those away in January. The stockings are packed into the boxes with the ornaments to be sent to the kids. No sense hanging them here.

Cookies? Who would eat them? And the standing order for the big turkey—cancelled. No need to root around in the pantry drawers for the holly berry napkin rings, either.

This all sounds very dispiriting. But there is an antidote. We look forward to traveling across the country to a house where there is a very excited three-year-old boy, who can’t wait for Santa. In this house, there are five, count them, five, Christmas trees. Stockings. At least two advent calendars, three crèches, an entire collection of German incense smoker Santas, holiday bedsheets and duvet covers—the entire nine yards! And I don’t have to put any of it away after the holidays!

Christmas dinner will be delicious, and I don’t have to cook it. There will be three toddlers, ten terrific adults, and a bunch of bad jokes and good cheer. Lots of people to help do the dishes. And Christmas music.

We will not be sleeping in our own beds, but the guest room mattress in this house is extremely comfortable. And right before he goes to sleep, a little boy will climb in with us and ask to hear a story.

We will probably spend all our Christmases in this house from now on, until we get too old to travel. And as far as I am concerned, one doesn’t get to be too old to travel until the age of 88. Thus, we don’t have to think about that for many years.

Another thing. Airports at Christmas time are happy places. If you don’t believe me, just watch Love, Actually for the hundredth time. Family reunions in baggage claim are hard to beat.

If you are going to be at your house for Christmas, put up an extra tree. Maybe set a Santa figurine on top of the toilet tank—so festive. And have a wonderful time in front of your own fireside. But if you are traveling to see your kids, maybe we will pass one another in the concourse at O’Hare. I will give you a hug and hand you a candy cane. Happy Holidays.

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A HOLIDAY HOW-TO, SORT OF

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This is Joanie. Joanie is holiday happy. Yes, Joanie is aware of the election results. But Joanie knows how to be chipper. These are some of the things Joanie does to be happy in December:

Joanie drinks a lot of eggnog, to begin with. The kind with rum.

Joanie has one of those pre-decorated artificial trees. No mess. Joanie has her husband drag it out of the attic, Joanie unfolds the thing, plugs it in, and voila! Done. Incidentally, Joanie’s children don’t come home for Christmas any longer, as they are grown. This explains why Joanie gets away with this. Because if one of her children flew home and saw the thing, there would be a tantrum. Though Joanie misses having her children in attendance, she loves the fact that un-decorating after the holidays is so incredibly easy.

Joanie listens to Christmas carols on her iPhone using earbuds–just about all day long. This drowns out the football games her husband watches this time of year. And frankly, the carols drown out Joanie’s husband as well.

Joanie does all her holiday shopping on Amazon.

Joanie makes slice and bake cookies. She holds her chin up high when her friends discuss the huge outlay of time it requires to buy all those little jars of sprinkles and sparkles, haul out the gingerbread recipe, rummage around in junk drawers for cookie cutters, and then bake, bake, bake. Joanie feels no guilt, whatsoever.

Joanie watches White Christmas all by herself in the afternoons. At least five times during December.

And when push comes to shove, Joanie firmly believes that the world will go on, people are intrinsically good, wars will end, Presidents will either lead or step down, and there will always be happy endings, somewhere, sometimes, somehow.

We should all be like Joanie.

 

 

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