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Poetry Club is here with hopes to increase the understanding and appreciation of poetry and encourage the discussion of poetry in your neighborhood and around the world. Can talking about poetry bring understanding between neighbors? Can understanding bring us closer to living more peacefully together? We are willing to give it a try! Are you?
It started when the three of us took Ron’s “Introduction to Poetry” class at a local community college. We enjoyed it so much we asked Ron if he would like to continue the discussion in a casual atmosphere. On October 31, 2015, we met for coffee at a local cafe, and we’ve been meeting every month since. Soon, the news got around and we started to grow to about 8-10 people. Then, we got organized. Whether you’re a writer or admirer of poetry, or simply want to learn more about it, you’ll love these feel-good conversations.
Poetry Club discusses classical and contemporary poetry. Members take turns hosting discussions on the work of a different poet each week. Our perspectives are pedestrian, collegiate, and everything in between. Currently, we are about 6-8 people who meet every Saturday online; a retired professor, a retired librarian, some poets, a writer, and a guy who just loves poetry, all fans of the written word. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and join us!
Thank you for listening, participating, and exploring poetry with us. The podcast is produced by CHICKADEE PRODUCTIONS
So in the mid-2010s, I lived with a boyfriend. We moved in together after dating for about a year. I was looking for a place to live and he says, “move in with me.” So I did.
You learn a lot more about a person when you live with them. This guy had a massive DVD collection including the FULL season of “Friends”. He loved that show. I also learned that I was his first steady girlfriend in over 5 years. I was impressed that he worked two jobs and saved his money to reach a lifetime goal of owning a home by the time he was 40. He stopped going out, stopped socializing to reduce the temptation to spend money to reach this goal. He oversimplified his life; work, food, sleep and watched “Friends” and his other DVDs.
This is a new age in America. It is difficult for people under 40 to get into a home in most moderately populated areas, such as Washington State. Many that do make it into a home generally are a two-person income couple and live above their means on credit. Everything is expensive and wages are not going up anytime soon.
In a 2017 Harvard Study…
“In the study, the researchers determined affordability by people’s ability to pay 30 percent of their income or less on the cost of housing, which may include their mortgage, insurance, and taxes.
Homeownership keeps declining, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies’ detailed and comprehensive 2017 State of the Nation’s Housing report, in part because home prices in many markets have continued to go up while wages have not kept pace. In 2016, “the homeownership rate fell to 63.4 percent, marking the 12th consecutive year of declines.””
I knew what he did was difficult. I was impressed by his focus and hard work. It was also very generous of him to share his home with me. We had a nice relationship and remain distant, but friends to this day.
Here is the core of it. A few times during our relationship he’d occasionally make comments about my looks. He’d say, “you know sometimes you look like yourself, and other times you, you look…different.” When I inquired how and in what way, he responded um, as kindly as possible I suppose, sometimes I didn’t look so good, just different. Here it is 2021 and I still think about those comments. What was his perspective? What did he mean I don’t look like myself?
There it was. At 6:53 am this morning. An answer to a nine-year-old question landed on my head! My vanity badmintoned for ten years–am I beautiful but sometimes appear ugly, or am I ugly but occasionally look beautiful? I am human, so are other humans, we are all three-dimensional beings ugly and beautiful at the same time…depending on your perspective. By perspective, I mean exactly– where your eyeballs are in relationship to my face.
The human eye is better than any camera. The human organic experience is a higher definition than any sitcom. The Real Real is both beautiful and ugly, not homogenized drama processed for your entertainment.
I’D LIKE TO THANK THE PANDEMIC…
All the online meetings the working class are enduring during the pandemic, I wonder will our perceptions change to a 2-D memory format? The camera lens mimics the human eye. It goes where a human can take it. Video composition is the art of framing the photo to correspond with a mode or message. There are 7 rules for better shot composition and framing: The Rule Of Thirds. Symmetry. Leading Lines. Leading Room & Head Room. Depth. Size Equals Power. Break the Rules.
These are rules we don’t live by in our body, only in composition.
I wonder, perhaps, just maybe, if a person watches too much TV, too many hours on video games, attends only Zoom meetings, lives alone, stops seeing friends in real life…could they forget what normal 3-D interaction is like? In real life, the other bodies you interact with are not in perfect frames, with mood lighting, or wearing costumes that easily identify their personality. I believe my boyfriend was in transition. He was coming out of a dark five years that stripped him of his social skills. It diminished his perspectives to the point that he was shocked when his girlfriend expressed an infinite amount of expression. Perhaps as we slowly work our way out of the pandemic more studies and information will be produced regarding the anticipated awkward action of “being normal” again.
Humans are infinite and complex. We live in a world with space and time. We dance around and with each other as we should.
Hope you are having a good week. Washington State was moved into Phase 3 of a 4 phase COVID plan. Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel? I do. I returned to the gym. After my first week, I already feel the endorphins back in action. Take care of yourself- Shannon
“…and I am waiting for the Age of Anxiety to drop dead…”
-“I am Waiting” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, (b. 1919- d. 2021)
Something funny happened to me the other day. First off I had a bad day. Nothing too extreme, just your normal run-of-the-mill bummer of a day. I was feeling inadequate at work and falling behind in some personal goals. My little apartment is my sanctuary. Pulling into my parking space, sitting in the car for a moment to collect myself, the weight of the day became known. Dang, what a day!
Walked in to set my stuff in the house. Got the mail key. Went out to grabbed the day’s mail. Went back inside. Looked through it at my desk. It’s Tuesday so grocery flyer day. A bunch of recycling from one box to another. One letter caught my attention immediately—no mistaking it, it was a check. Inside was a letter from the local book store along with a check for the sale of ten of my poetry books, approximately $65. The letter explained the 4th quarter payments are late due to accounting circumstances. I was bummed thinking nothing sold last quarter, but, apparently, somethings sold. So, this is good news. But…I stared at the check and the letter with no exclamation or acknowledgment. I was still processing my crappy day. I needed to process my crappy day. I wanted to turn the key from sad to glad right away but instead, I said, “I’ll celebrate tomorrow, or Saturday.” A voice replied, “Did you just schedule HAPPINESS?”
Words Under My Skin
Can the lines of a book or poem hug you? Yes. Comfort comes in many forms and during this freakin’ pandemic I would guess many of us are seeking comfort in any form we can get it. I sure am.
A shift that has started in my writing is absorption. For the previous decade, poems came to me, loudly, processing through my mind and body and shooting out my fingertips to the page. I appreciated the clarity of the thought. What’s happening now is I hear the poem and just friggin’ savor it. I’m keeping the words within me. Like a dissolving lozenge, the flavor slowly works its way through my soul, feeding my very essence. Sounds dramatic? It is. A bit of a mini-drama. My knee jerks to hurry up and capture the thought on paper, my throat wanting to continue the precious perception, says gently, simply, NO.
Writers have a natural progression, you get an idea you write, or you need to form an idea so you write. Writers write. The stanzas coming to me throughout my day and dream time should be placed onto the page. Perhaps the moments are attempts of my psyche to heal the mind and body, acknowledge and absorb the beauty around me, helping me to recover from a bad day. Maybe I’m just being lazy. Fresh words and stories come by for a visit and I talk with them and keep them in my heart.
Perhaps we can force another Age of Enlightenment onto the planet? Let’s keep creating and loving each other and see what happens. Have a good day wherever you are. -Shannon
P.S. I was looking forward to perhaps some aliens landing, or a break down of society completely but it looks like the vaccine is coming out and masks are coming off in September (my guess for Bellingham, WA.) *sigh* no fun.
What a delight to learn a poem of mine, written in the spirit of Saint Bukowski, b. August 16, 1920, was selected for a chapbook celebrating his 100th birthday! My first international submission acceptance. Indeed an honor. A copy is flying closer towards my mailbox as I post this update. These are beautiful, limited edition, small press collector books that you can still order–get your copy today! Contact Newington Blue Press, East London, today!(Apx. £25)
“Newington Blue Press was born in 2020 – when due to the Covid–19 virus and pandemia the centenary Festival on the occasion of what would have been the 100th birthday of Bukowski – to be held in Germany – had to be cancelled. Originally planned as a small, humble replacement only, our anthology of tributes, testimonials, and unpublished works – lived up to it’s second volume so far and is to be continued.
The writer’s call-out & mission statement for BUK 100: “We have gathered writers, scholars, and graphic artists/photographers from all around the globe in order to celebrate the man Bukowski on the very occasion. Our contributors range from contemporary witnesses/friends of Bukowski – still alive, to emulating artists working in his tradition, scholars who work for or gaining degrees/doctorates on Bukowski to congenial artists esp. in the performing arts who are occopied with the phenomenon of the «poet laureate of skid row» for years. Everybody is free to greet Charles Bukowski in his or her specific way, style and individuality, be it an essay – a photograph or poetry. We would warmly welcome you to take part in our little endeavour, which explicitely aims to blow borders of nations and thus assembles contributions from artists from all continents.”
P.S. Perhaps you and a writer you know say, “I need to give this some air.” Reading a work in progress at an open mic or to a group of other writers can help form the piece. In 2018 I read my Charles Bukowski-inspired poem “Christopher Titus Save Me.” based on the Bukowski poem “The Twelve Hour Night”. It is one of my longest poems, yet written from the heart -or should I say the wrenched heart- about working as an overnight deep cleaner at a Casino. I had no words to describe the experience and Bukowski helped me find those words. But, the poem needed air, it needed to be tested.
In my town, we have a monthly open mic at the local indie book store, Village Books. The night I signed up for a 5-minute read, a new artist was in the crowd drawing, um, portraits… of each reader. Bob Zaslow–thank you. Bob included in his portrait lines from “Christopher Titus Save Me”.
Monday is the first day of SPRING! The sun is coming through my window. I watched it as it arched around the buildings, right-sided shadows slowly making their way left. The Christmas Cactus takin’ it all in. No meme this morning. just this photo. -Hope you are well, healthy, happy, fed, sheltered, loved and giving love…and CREATING, Shannon
Today was one of those days while driving down the I-5 freeway, my tired brain thought I left my car keys at the last appointment. For two long seconds, I had a panic patting my pockets–“Where are my keys?!” moment. Effin’ ridiculous. I wonder if I’m getting enough sleep. I’m not sure about sleep, but I’m getting waaaaay too much rest.
The other day I read that many people are continuing to have strange dreams, “Pandemic Dreams”. Dreams about being unable to get the simplest thing completed; walking through a maze-like existence, experiencing some sort of repetitive behavior that increases anxiety. In October of 2020, the magazine Scientific American explains we are having more dreams because we are resting more which equals more REM sleep.
“Relaxed schedules may also have caused dreaming to occur later than usual in the morning, when REM sleep is more prevalent and intense and, thus, dreams are more bizarre. Dream-tweets reflect these qualities: “I was taking care of a newborn girl that had COVID … it was so vivid and real.” Increased dreaming during late-morning REM intervals results from the convergence of several processes. Sleep itself cycles through deep and light stages about every 90 minutes, but pressure for REM sleep gradually increases as the need for deep, recuperative sleep is progressively satisfied. Meanwhile, a circadian process that is tightly linked to our 24-hour core body temperature rhythm gives an abrupt boost to REM sleep propensity late in the sleep period and stays elevated through the morning.“
As a single woman, working two essential jobs, living in a small apartment…my dreams are a bit different. I’m not dreaming about bugs attacking me or social distancing faux pas in the soup aisle. I’m dreaming about celebrities sliding into my bed and hugging me, saying witty things. Last week Jimmi Simpson (left) kept me laughing and calm with some stories & huggies in bed. This week Mr. Jason Sudeikis (right) joined me for a little pillow talk. He was so warm and kind. We just laid in bed and talked. I know you are seeing someone Jason, my subconscious means no disrespect to your lady, but you are a pretty good snuggle bunny.
I look forward to the gym reopening and, like, being able to hug people again, you know the whole spectrum of touching and standing next to people. Touching surfaces like exercise bikes, armrests in the movie theater, shake a hand “hello”, hug a friend goodbye, but–I will never go bowling again.
“The whole business of what’s reality and what isn’t has never been solved and probably never will be. So I don’t care to be too definite about anything. I have a lot of edges called Perhaps and almost nothing you can call Certainty.”
Blue Horses: Poems, by Mary Oliver, Penguin Books, 2016.
With that being said, perhaps…
when gods make love, they create nebulas
Below are two poem drafts to share today. I’d love some feedback if you’re up for it. I was in Village Books the other day and saw my book “Fallen” on the shelf. It came out in 2017, four years ago. Hmmmmm… If I were to guess, I think I have one more poetry book in me, possibly by 2022. I hope it is picked up and published traditionally, and I return to the open mic circuit to launch the book properly. My first two books were self-published, “Fallen” was my first traditionally published. Thank you Independent Writers Studio, of Bellingham, WA. Self-publishing has its rewards, but I cannot emphasize enough the power of traveling the area with your book in hand, meeting your readers/followers, in person. I wonder, and am hesitant to declare, that a self-published book not advertised, given away to your family and friends only, is, generally speaking, a waste of paper. The written word has power. Why hide that potential under your bed? Share your work. Try it. You’ll like it.
1/16/21 It is a new year. I write the number and it feels the same as 2020 The new-yearness will not appear until the end of February after a late Northwest snow The old year, the previous skin, will hang on a bit and fog my eyes My hand refused to write a “1” IT IS TIME pun intended to tell me it is time The styles do not change, technology crawls very few items in my home could tell me what decade I’m in if I had the gift to slip about time
If you take a person from 1880 and place them in 1980 The 1980s would appear to be a different world entirely But take a person from 1998 to 2021…not too many changes All the advancements and we simply have smaller, thinner phones Did anyone ask for a smaller phone? We die of cancer, disease, starvation, and war To answer the call, our technicians and scientists developed a Fitbit and placed TV in our pockets to track our racing heartbeats while watching the news
WARM WINTER The leaves scratch the air as the frozen drops of winter tap my window in the middle of the night they want in to take over my home return it back to soil I am sure of it The potted plants by the glass seduce the storm arms beg it to set them free while a drizzle of rooftop runoff piddles down a leaking drain pipe Even a worm comes out to comment on the weather war High and humble worn and cold the snow shovel stands at attention in a dark corner ready to fight
Memes of my feels today. Thank you for your visit. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Keep writing. -Shannon
On March 24th the governor of Washington State declared the “Stay Home. Stay Healthy” mandate. Here we are over 300 days later, fatigued, depressed, foggy, frustrated…and now hopeful. Hopeful that the pandemic will end this year, and America can get back to work. The second half of 2020 I began to read the daily “briefings” of American Historian Heather Cox Richardson. Her writings have helped me to place events into a perspective I would not have been able to do so on my own. It’s helped me, might help you, the link is at the bottom of the page.
John Oliver also makes me smile. I like his analogy of last week feeling like a person finishing a marathon, after breaking the ribbon and about to celebrate an official comes up, shakes your hand, and says, “Did you know that one million dogs are euthanized in shelters every day?” Just give us ONE DAY to feel the relief. PLEASE, just one day for those that survived the four year attack on America by Americans, can we have ONE day of hope?
Outside of politics I’ve been thinking about an old friend that passed away a few years ago. Jim joked about being a curmudgeon, but he really was a good-tempered easy-going old guy who had a divine level of dad jokes at the ready. There was an absence of family men in my upbringing. Mostly appeared as unreachable, or two dimensional. Grandpas lived in other states, my father had sleeping fits, and my uncles were loud, swearing, sons of bitches that belched loudly and with great showmanship at the Thanksgiving table upsetting the aunties. Life has a beautiful way of balancing itself. If you are missing a family relationship, say a sister, parent, or, heck, a whole family, somehow life brings you a family. I do not know how it does it, but it is so welcomed. Jim was welcomed into my life as an adopted grandpa. We met at a poetry open mic. Here is the one photo I have of us, taken at his first book launch.
He supported my work, greeted me with a smile, asked me what I was up to in my writing world, shared with me what he was marveling at that day. A wonderful gentleman. I believe it would be egotistical of me to think I was special to him because he treated everyone this way. All people and everything about this world were special to him. He passed “into the cosmos” in October 2019. I do not know how much support I gave him, but he helped me more than I was able to ever share or express to him.
My poem “Leaf Tattoo” was one of his favorites. Often when I see a leaf tattoo or now, the little buds of a new leaf on the branches, I am reminded of his kindness. I’m thankful for people like Jim. I’m glad he appeared in my life, and for other “adopted” family that visited, albeit, only for a short time. They are true treasures.
Leaf Tattoo You can you feel it In my city The change of air as wind folds in fall’s weather.
Orange leaves appear on the sidewalks of Holly Street. No worms to dance them back to soil.
Cement laden, laid on the roadside in random patterns leave a tattoo, imprinted on the stone. Five pointed stars a tree hand pressed by feet and rain bleed orange ink for all to see.
By winter the marks wash away By spring, bright green babies wave at us from their mother’s arm borne back into our memory.
In America, we drive on the right side of the road. Also, people here generally walk on the right side of the sidewalk, busy hiking trails, even grocery store isles. When I walk along the trails around a nearby lake, I keep to the right side of the path. If I have the trail to myself, I walk right down the middle as if I owned the place.
What is your neighborhood like during the pandemic? Where I am I have noticed giving another pedestrian 6 feet is seen as a courtesy; in the grocery store, offices, parks, etc., keeping your distance is a sign of good manners. It is awkward or rude if a person stands too close to another. Feathers get ruffled.
Earlier this year, before the snowpack in the mountains could build and the rains of the Northwest La Nina winter began, Padden Gorge Trail was dry and quiet. The creek was all but dried up. The cold air chased away many birds and I experienced the eerie sensation of standing in a silent forest.
To The Right second draft
The woods are quiet today I do not hear the rustle of a bird no wind playing at the leaves no foraging of a rodent or the panting of a dog Padden Creek is down to its late summer trickle Everything is off
My ears reach for the sound of people at the lake trail on end with mine I hear no one I haven’t been sleeping lately For a moment I am dream walking zombified in this quiet wood with no direction, no purpose No others to use as a reference or provide a sense of direction No validation of movement or placement
I walk down the canyon trail in silence. surrounded by silence
Then–they find me The crunching roar of off-road bike tires approach me from behind I move to the right The joggers with focused steps and controlled pants I move to the right Two dogs and two owners come at me head-on I move to the right Facedown each time to make sure my breath does not mix with theirs Behind me I hear the steps of another walker I move to the right I’m a slow walker compared to others I know this walker will pass me I wait no walker Then turn to look No one
There are two places on these trails where the sound tricks the ear My own steps sound like another getting ready to pass but it is just me and my steps echoing off the walls of the thick forest
How nice of me to give the same courtesy I give others unknowingly yet, still as sweet
I play Among Us. My name is “poptart”. You may wonder why a 52 year old woman would want to play a real-time murder mystery set on a space ship with the prepubescent of our population, but you’ve no need, I will tell you why I do it. I’ve entered a very specific time in my life where I gain great satisfaction defeating children in games of deceit and strategy. Today, however, those raggamuffins booted me out of two games in less than 30 minutes. Don’t they have better things to do like Google history homework answers or something? I crashed on Pink’s argument that she couldn’t be the killer because “I’m only 8.” If she’s 8, then I’m 8. Ridiculous argument! That pink flower in your hair only makes you more creepy, PINK!
It is 6:30 p.m. as I begin to write and I want it to be 6:30 a.m. tomorrow. At that time I will have things to do: wake up, catch the days headlines, take a shower, have breakfast, get dressed then go to work. When I’m at work I’ll have even MORE things to do. Between now and tomorrow I have TWELVE hours to do something with. At least 8 hours of that can be used for sleeping. During COVID I’ve tested my sleeping abilities AKA: time travel. I can fast forward about 3-5 hours at a time with an elongated blink of an eye …which is really what sleep is, one long blink. Rarely can I make it more than 12 hours in one undisturbed lay-down. The longest since March is a good, very nice and needed 10 hours in bed. Sleeping when bored is the highlight and delete of unwanted hours. The “>>2x” button on your Blueray.
What the heck will I do for 12 hours?
I started one adult task; reading a self-help book, “The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child” by Nancy Newton Verrier.
The Primal Wound is a book which is revolutionizing the way we think about adoption. In its application of information about pre- and perinatal psychology, attachment, bonding, and loss, it clarifies the effects of separation from the birth mother on adopted children. In addition, it gives those children, whose pain has long been unacknowledged or misunderstood, validation for their feelings, as well as explanations for their behavior. Since its original publication in 1993, The Primal Wound has become a classic in adoption literature and is considered the adoptees’ bible. The insight which is brought to the experiences of abandonment and loss will contribute not only to the healing of adoptees, adoptive families, and birth parents, but will bring understanding and encouragement to anyone who has ever felt abandoned.
A friend loaned me the book. We are both adopted children. The book helps you work through the emotional trauma of abandonment all adoptees experience. She recommends it highly. It will be a tough read. About 10 minutes in I begin to cry a little.
The sun set at 4:21pm today. I should have gone for a walk, but I didn’t.
The other day at work I had the unusual job of sorting through donated Christmas decorations. The donations came from the husband of a woman that supported the organization. She, unfortunately, passed away over the summer. The widower was now in a convalescent center. A friend of his helped him collect their old Christmas decorations and deliver them to us to be donated to families in our housing program. It was shared that this gesture of giving was in honor of her love for Christmas and desire to help others. Very kind.
Late Friday afternoon I set up a staging table to sort through the five boxes of decorations, dividing them up into containers for delivery later that day. Some items were in better shape than others. With each item I wondered, perhaps, it held a special place in someone’s heart and memory. These were precious to someone at one time.
A couple of times I felt myself getting spooked out by it, I’ll be honest. However, reason dominated the afternoon. Decorations are not HOLY items that require special handling. They are not Mezuzah’s for example; old or broken Mezuzahs MUST NOT be thrown away but buried.
“Even though it is the scroll that is the mitzvah, the case also becomes holy because it is used for a Mitzvah. Therefore the case should be brought to a genizah – that is a place where holy items are brought to be buried in the Jewish cemetery.”
The embroidered caricature ornaments of Mr. and Mrs. Clause or a broken snowglobe with a water-bubbled Frosty, arms full of presents, do not require special disposal like sacred communion wine and baptismal water. Leftover blessed communion wine and the vessels used for serving MUST be washed in a sink that empties out into the ground.
“A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, or else in the vestry or sacristy, used for washing the communion vessels. The sacrarium is the drain itself. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. For Roman Catholic’s sacrarium is a “special sink used for the reverent disposal of sacred substances. This sink has a cover, a basin, and a special pipe and drain that empty directly into the earth, rather than into the sewer system”
Religion fascinates me. All these different rules, detailed rules, stifling rules, people make up for the brand distinction. Of course, at the root of many religious rules is the respect for the object and what it represents, such as the Word of God or the Blood of Christ. So, how do you categorize a ripped 1978 cross-stitched fabric wall banner of a geriatric man with fancy cherry-red lips proclaiming “HO! HO! HO!” that hung on a wall 23 days a year for 42 years? CAN it be thrown away, in the trash, to the landfill? Why yes it can—and it does.
The newsletter for Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc (PSSI) and the Stanford Recycling Center located in Redwood City, CA, USA, reported Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!
PSSI and SRC suggest some rules: reduce, reuse.
If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmascards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.
It is a delight for all non-profits to receive donations of any size shape and configuration. After going full circle in my thoughts I was happy that this family decided to donate their Christmas decorations to less fortunate families. Standing over my staging table, I wondered at the stuff, so much stuff. I sorted through each shoebox, bag, and large plastic containers of Christmas ribbon and plastic snowflakes, Christmas candleholders, Christmas ornaments made of glass, plastic, ceramic, tinsel and yarn, Christmas tree toppers, Christmas banners, tree garland, Christmas wreaths for the table and front door, Christmas votives and Christmas coffee cups. Whoever wanted a bag of evenly distributed items, they was ready. I tossed out the few old and broken and passed forward future memory makers.
Here are some 2020 ornaments that caught my attention. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Hope you are safe, warm, and bubbled up with folks you can tolerate.