I have a very long dining room table. It sits 16 people before the leaf is added! I treasure the many  family dinners here, crowding in, bumping shoulders. My grand-daughter chooses the linens and plates and tablecloth. We line the silver and glassware along the table Martha Stewart style. 

It broke my heart to give it all up this year. The table has sat as idle as have people groups across the country. In my last article I pondered how to not be robbed of these “feed-my-soul” times with my large family and yet keep myself (age 77) and others safe.

We each are responsible for our own safety and we are responsible for finding a balance between physical health and soul health for ourselves. It requires a bit of dreaming, lots of letting go of how it was, and a healthy dose of risk-adventure taking. What feeds my soul may freak yours out. Since we are ok with that, I thought, in light of my last article, you may like to hear how I decided to have this holiday season.  Not so much philosophic wandering in this story, just “here’s how I found joy” in planning Thanksgiving Dinner.

We have an extra-large garage in our lot across the street from our live-in house. Mostly storage, with a nice corner for my treadmill. A long workbench lines the back wall. Enough space to accommodate tables spaced pretty far apart. Maybe not six feet, but better that butt-to-butt at the table in the house.

Covered the workbench with some festive Christmas tablecloths!  Positioned our four banquet tables into a loose square with walking distance between, and placed chairs only on the outside border so we could all see each other. Decorated everything with lots of small pumpkins and gourds and candles. I didn’t have four matching tablecloths but somehow that didn’t matter this year.

Placed food on the workbench, gave each person their own serving spoon.  Unseasonably warm weather gave us sunshine, and a fire pit in the driveway made that old unheated garage comfortable!

Back to the real house for pie and games, and puzzles and laying around. I didn’t worry about six feet of social distance because I had decided to be happy with two feet and to accept the risk. The reward would be worth the risk to me.

I would not advocate this for everyone. I am only navigating my own way to keep peace and joy in my life. To not give in to negative thoughts or complaining or depression.  It was a wonderful day that I will always treasure.

Now on to Christmas.  We live in northern Indiana, so chances of the garage being useable is almost zero.  We either gather in the house or not at all. In my heart, the not-at-all is out of the question! 

So I’m putting that long dining room table to a new use. Setting up three electric griddles, one at each end, one in the center. Adding an assortment of cheeses and breads and letting everyone make their own grilled cheese sandwich.  A big pot of homemade tomato soup on the stove in the kitchen will round it out.

I think my gang will turn this into a contest to see who makes the best grilled cheese, because they jump on every opportunity to have a contest. We have even had special trophies made for winners to take home.

This is a far cry from my dreamy Christmases, but in my heart this year I long for ease and comfort and lounging around and talking and just being. This Christmas seems more perfect than any I have ever done.  I have found joy. I have created joy in the midst of Chaos and I’m feeling pretty darn proud of myself because I am more that OK now.

May you find joy and peace this holiday in however you choose to do it.

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