One of the things I really missed in 2020 and earlier 2021, one of the things that probably contributed to the riding-roughshod on my mental health that the pandemic did, was a lack of things to look forward to.
Like, I wound up ordering a LOT of stupid stuff online, stuff I didn't need, because watching that package (sometimes v. slowly) wend its way from the seller to me gave me something pleasant to anticipate, something more than "in x more hours you can go to bed" or "maybe you can have two cookies after dinner tonight."
Unfortunately, I realize that the novelty of being Out and being Different Places in the World is a big thing for me - that seven or eight months of pretty strictly staying home was hard. Even trying to leaven it a bit with a few walks on the equestrian trail or the nature trail up at the lake, even with the occasional aimless-drives in the country didn't help a lot (which I realized made me feel WORSE, though they were probably important for not totally losing my driving skills).
But now, things seem....a bit better. Even with omicron, the news this morning seems to be "if you're fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine, especially if you've had a booster, this will mostly be a nothingburger for you, keep on with the minor precautions you've been doing." (I still mask in class and in shops, I am still not eating inside restaurants, I am still avoiding crowds and will continue to do so for a while)
But I do have several things to look forward to. I taught my last official class today for the semester (tomorrow is an exam, Friday is people doing presentations so I just have to grade).
Tomorrow night is the first AAUW Christmas party since 2019. Really the first "party" of any sort since 2019 for me. I have my gift (a hat) and the little toy for the toy drive, and tonight I make the turkey meatballs I always make. And you know, the whole "that I always make" thing is a THING for me. It feels like a bit of a return to normalcy - I found the cookbook with the recipe (which is also here on the blog, so if I couldn't find the cookbook I could search on "meatballs" and turn it up).
Since my exams are all written and my grading is effectively done until Monday, I am taking Saturday and going to Quixotic Fibers (they SHOULD be open, they list a class at 11 am - I will probably try to get there before that and complete my shopping before that, again avoiding crowds and it's a small shop). This will also be a 'first time since early 2020' thing for me. That's my big plan for the day though I might also swing by Ulta on the way back home, and maybe the bookstore? And maybe get some Nice Food at the natural-foods store (if they have their Nice Christmas Foods in this year) for exam week.
And for exam week, in the evenings, I can stay home. And when I get my grading done during the day (which I probably can do), I will knit and relax and try to find holiday programming on tv. I would like to finish the current socks and also the pioneer braid scarf (I worked on it some last night; perhaps I like it a bit better). I'm already thinking about over-break projects; I will probably take the Incunabula sweater with me, and some new socks/hats/maybe scarf projects. And I printed off a pattern I had for a large crocheted Kelpie toy, and IF my mom feels okay with going out to the new big JoAnn's in her town (She PROBABLY will, though I'm not sure how cautious she wants to be in light of Omicron - I could probably go alone if I had to but it would be more fun going with her), I could get supplies to make it. I might scroll through my other saved patterns and see if there are any other toy patterns that "speak" to me because it feels to me like Christmas Break Should Be For Making Toys.
And yes, looking forward to Christmas break. I have my tickets (I leave the 14th, not the 15th, as I remembered - so a good long time BEFORE Christmas, and then a while yet after it). It looks like the new variant should NOT snarl my plans (as I noted above) and it will just be NICE. Nice to be back home again, it will just be me and my mom (my brother and his family don't travel over Christmas) and with just the two of us it's a lot quieter and more orderly - we keep to pretty much the same schedule (up by 7, eat just three meals a day, go to bed around 9 - my brother's family sleeps a lot later and get up at different times and they kind of graze constantly instead of set mealtimes so it's a little more chaotic with all of us together). And maybe that's what I need as a slow introduction back to being around people, after a year and a half mostly away from them.
But also just being able to do "real" Christmas again, I mean, with another person there. But also the idea of having a stretch of time where I'm not the sole cook/grocery shopper/housekeeper - sharing the load with someone else.
And also, yes, I admit: being able to sit on the sofa and watch cartoons or old Christmas movies and knit or crochet or whatever, that's a thing, that's a thing I need and want. And yes, I can kind of have that now, except with work it means I get home around 5 and I"m tired and I need to make time to practice piano and do the marketing and everything.
Part of the point of vacation is laying down some of your responsibilities for a bit; I think this is why people like cruises and all-inclusive places - the whole issue of grocery shopping and cooking and dishwashing is removed from the equation, which gives you more time.
And, maybe? I hope and pray? Omicron will either basically fizzle out, or it will turn out to be the "huh, COVID is pivoting to a more seasonal-flu-like illness that can be managed without too much concern" and come spring maybe I can go visit friends again, and do extended days-out where I can eat somewhere OTHER than a drive-through for my meal, and maybe, just maybe? things will be better?
I admit at this point I'm even afraid to breathe that thought, lest I jinx it again - it felt very much like omicron and delta were both things that came down as jinxes; before delta I was saying "oh it will be possible for me to feel comfortable teaching unmasked this fall!" and before omicron I was saying "come spring semester, we'll be able to mostly be back to normal and I won't have to worry about things like dividing up my soils lab into two cohorts and doing two labs per week (then again: with a larger class that might make more sense any way). And I was looking forward to ditching Zoom except in the rare case of someone with an extended medical reason to have to be absent from class.
But maybe? Maybe it might still happen? Maybe not this spring, but maybe fall 2022? Maybe before I retire? I would like to look forward to things with hope again.