On My Mind: December 2020

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

Bouquet of Flowers, On My Mind, Susanne SkinneNobody is sorry to bid 2020 farewell. It’s going down as a really horrible, terrible no-good year. I will be glad to see the back end of it, and I look forward to a fresh start in 2021.

The best thing I can say about this year is that I had time to reorganize closets. I also learned to make sourdough starter, started a book club, and rediscovered sewing.

But the year lingers and I can’t leave it behind without sharing a final December 2020 What’s On My Mind blog.

What’s In A Name?

A pandemic reshaped our world. By April, pandemic-related language crept into everyone’s conversations. Coronavirus became one of the most-used words in our vocabulary.

Words and phrases defining 2020 include systemic racism, Black lives matter, quarantine, remote, and new normal. Covidiots and Blursday speak to our inability to process this virus, creating new words to describe our daily lives.

Loungewear became the attire of 2020, attesting to our home confinement. Since we’re working remotely, new normal also means new casual. Work clothes and casual clothes merged into one wardrobe. Jeggings are the new jeans.

Last but not least—the mask. Who knew a face covering would become part of everyone’s wardrobe? Prada, Louis Vuitton and Dior are sewing face masks exclusively for medical workers. It’s a revenue stream nobody thought of one year ago. 

A Covid-19 Vaccine

Pfizer and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech collaborated on a Covid-19 vaccine, committing to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020, and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Covid-19 vaccine, syringe, December 2020The FDA granted emergency-use approval on December 11th.  On December 12th trucks loaded with the first doses of the vaccine left the Pfizer plant.

The vaccine must be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit and transported on dry ice. Those most at risk will be the first to receive the two-part dose. I am one of them as I am the compassionate care giver to my sister who is in memory care.

The vaccine is 95% effective but it is the responsibility of all of us to follow CDC prevention guidelines.

On Being A Gracious Loser

The 2020 election is a teachable moment for gracious losing. It’s a what not to do lesson for people of all ages.

History shows us that people who gain respect and admiration are those who show us how to lose gracefully. Most of us are familiar with the agony of defeat. We’ve experienced the feeling of not getting what we want. In our everyday lives we’ve been passed over for promotion, failed a test, survived broken relationships—and even lost an election. We define ourselves by how we respond in the midst of adversity.

People that win are also gracious losers. A victory is testimony to your ability and skill, but defeat shows your character.

Suze’s Christmas Kitchen

Irish Coffee, holiday, Christmas, December 2020Fruitcake has a bad rap, and rightfully so. The bricks of yesteryear are for the brave and the few; my dad among them.

My brother and I also like fruitcake, so I’ve invested in finding a recipe worthy enough to eat.  Most are pretenders to the fruitcake throne, filled with candied fruit and cardboard flavor.

This year’s cake is a winner. Two things set it apart from traditional recipes. The first—no surprise—is ingredients. King Arthur Baking steps away from the traditional formula with this recipe. Key players are dried apricots, dates, pineapple and two cups of toasted nuts. It also incorporates crystalized ginger and black cocoa. What it does not boast is the mix of candied fruit appearing on store shelves every December.

This non-traditional approach results in a very enjoyable cake, with deep flavor and texture. I soaked the fruit in a mixture of good bourbon and honey, then brushed the finished cake with more bourbon. You can never have too much bourbon.

My cookie palooza is downsized this year for many reasons but I still like to mix our favorites with something new. I wanted a non-traditional option and found these Yugoslavian Christmas Cookies. They taste like more.

Another item appearing on holiday shelves is flavored coffee creamer. Don’t buy it – make it. It’s easy, and so much better. The taste will convince you.

Watch ~ Read ~ Listen

Susanne Skinner, Read-Watch-Listen, books, movies, musicSome oldies but goodies that bring to mind the words of Charles W. Howard,

“They err who think Santa Claus enters through the chimney. He enters through the heart.” 

Read

The Flight of the Reindeer by Robert Sullivan:  A Christmas story for grown-ups.  Robert Sullivan meticulously gathered information from scientists, historians, zoologists, and Arctic explorers. His mission—to prove that Santa is not a myth. Through beautiful illustrations, photos, and convincing writing, this is a story for adults that gave up hope. It will make a believer out of you.

Watch

The Christmas Candle: In the village of Gladbury, legend has it every twenty-five years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever receives and lights the Christmas Candle experiences a miracle on Christmas Eve. The arrival of electricity and a progressive new minister from London offer an opportunity to redefine miracles and experience human kindness.

Listen

Faith Hill’s version of Where are You Christmas? seems appropriate for this upside-down year.

David Archuleta and Nathan Pacheco, joined by a piano and a cello, offer holiday hope in this beautiful version of The Prayer.

Finally, nothing beats a holiday flash mob. The United States Air Force Band delivers at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. With thanks and appreciation to all who wear the uniform and serve.

Good Riddance 2020

2020 Goodbye and Good Riddance, Covid-19, horrible yearI’m calling December 31st Good Riddance Day.  I look forward to a new year that restores dignity and democracy to our country and a vaccine that eliminates a deadly virus that has thus far claimed 1,610,265 lives.

We all want a good new year. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready.

This entry was posted in Books, Entertainment, Food and Cooking, Health & Safety, Susanne Skinner and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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