Happiness is Not Going to the Mall

I realize that people still went out on Black Friday, evidently feeling that death was a small price to pay for a cheap TV, but most of the people I know nestled back into post-holiday stupor and made other plans for gift buying and receiving. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping. But I gave it up pretty easily when it became associated with a future on a ventilator. And I think that the social distancing/quarantine has changed the way we look at things, possibly permanently. When I asked my daughter what the grandkids wanted, she said they weren’t sure. They’ve been at home so long surrounded by their books and toys and games that it’s soaked in that they’re pretty much stocked up. There’s something about being surrounded by your stuff 24/7 that makes you realize that you possibly have enough. More than enough. Too much. And the idea of buying more is just kind of ridiculous.

That hasn’t stopped me from burning up online buying, of course, but I’m not risking my life doing that, and it’s curiously targeted, not based on my usual “Ooooh something shiny” response to actually being next to the thing I’m impulsing. I’m not going to say I’m happy about the virus, that’s an ongoing, escalating tragedy. But good can come out of bad, like not feeling compelled to overspend on the holidays because I’m not someplace with “Santa Baby” blaring on loudspeakers and a lot of cranky but determined people too close to me. I’m happy I’m home today.

What made you happy this week?

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75 thoughts on “Happiness is Not Going to the Mall

  1. I like the head game of avoiding malls and Amazon while acquiring what I want. Bookshop.org is working very well for me. I have two candy brands — See’s and Munson’s — that have mall stores. This year I’m ordering See’s online and driving further to shop at a Munson’s that isn’t inside a mall (the shipping costs for Munson’s are exhorbitant).

    Sending gifts to my son and daughter-in-law in Europe is complicated: first, I can’t send perfume, anything liquid, perishable, fragile, battery-operated, sharp, and that sort of thing. Second, I try to avoid giving them the hassle of paying customs –not because of the price but because it means standing in line at the post office for an hour or more. That means showing that everything in the package is used. Overall, it’s fun to play as a game; otherwise, I’d be wallowing in disappointment that they can’t come to the US this year. The situation could be much worse.

  2. Happiness is following weekend lockdown rules. That’s what our community forum has advised and I’m trying to follow it. Basically, lock yourself and family down for the weekend and then only go to work/school and essential movement in the week.

    So I bought a whole lot of Asian voices e-books that were a-sale and have been having a pleasant time of it.

    For anyone interested Chris Corsini does an entertaining tarot reading for full and new moons with ASL and English. He’s on Instagram and YouTube. And Jahnavi Sheriff as The Yoga Sheriff on YouTube has some new very short yoga videos.

    Don’t stagnate!

  3. Christmas shopping was easy this year b/c husband got really into woodworking as his quarantine hobby and wanted to make stuff for all the grown-ups. It all turned out very nicely! We watched Casablanca while he wrapped last night, which is our Christmas tradition and made us both happy. Something new I asked for this year was for people to support musicians and podcasters I like on Patreon. New music and podcasts were very good for my mental health this year. kAnd less stuff in our tiny house.
    So what has made me happy this week? A quiet Thanksgiving. Nice weather, still. Decluttering the boys’ rooms of things they’ve outgrown *before* Christmas so we have room for their new stuff. Those peppermint white chocolate Hershey’s kisses that only come out this time of year. I haven’t even eaten any, but I have a bag stashed away and I’m probably going to bake cookies with some too.
    Other happy things – Lots of reading time and actually finishing something. Cheating on the Italian language with my side piece, Catalan 😉 I’m still studying lots of Italian, but there’s something fun about new words and diving into a new culture. My Italian class ends in about 2 weeks and doesn’t start again till early January, so I’ve decided I’m going to let myself go and really dabble in Catalan during that period. I speak Spanish pretty well, so I definitely have a head start (Catalan isn’t a dialect of Spanish, it is its own language, but there is a lot of similarity.) I don’t really feel the need to be conversational (no traveling Catalonia any time soon, alas), I just want to be able to read, watch TV, and listen to music in the language, which now thanks to the internet is pretty easy.

  4. Well, not exactly happy, but relieved that two days of abdominal pain culminated in a quick and uncomplicated appendectomy on Thursday. One way to meet a lot of new and interesting people during lockdown… and most of them medical professionals.

    Now to take it easy….doctors’ (and everyone’s) orders; so a lot of lying on the couch surrounded by books.

    1. Glad you are well and caught it in time! Been there, done that; emergency appendectomy is sooo much fun. Take care.

    2. Well that’s taking decluttering really far. Of course, it is not as though you really needed that appendix.

      And it was timely.

      Shaggy dog story here. My abdominal pain which happened on a Tuesday and took most of the day to get into the doctor, resulted in her sending me for an MRI since she did not think it was my appendix. The MRI could not be scheduled until early Friday. Very late Friday after the pain had mostly disappeared, the clinic called and said I did have appendicitis and needed to come into Emergency and see a doctor. And I said no, it was not bothering me. Early Saturday morning Emergency called and said, really I should come in just so they could be sure it hadn’t ruptured. So my husband took me into Emergency and the doctor agreed it did not seem to have ruptured but was a reoccurring infection and did need to come out and I said no. And we chatted in a friendly way for a bit and discussed my medical history and I mentioned that I had two artificial knees which were very successful. And the doctor said “Bingo. I knew that appendix had to come out. If you have prosthesis, infections are extremely dangerous.” And he and my husband tag-teamed me until I agreed. I have always assumed since the doctor came into to examine me and ruined his Saturday, he figured he should at least get to do a surgery.

      1. My father got an infection in an artificial hip. It was not good. I reckon that surgeon deserved to do the surgery!

    3. Thanks, everyone, for all the healing vibes. I’m now immersed in JKR’s latest, Troubled Blood. 900-odd pages. That should keep me going…

      1. More healing vibes coming your way from me. Surgery’s a total bummer but it’s good they caught it early!

  5. I decided to put my art room back together, although not as perfectly as it was before it was dismantled prior to our plans to sell & move fell through, and the pandemic hit. I can’t figure out how to reinstall the wall mounted shelving system, so I’m just going to use three bookshelves. Maybe someday I’ll be able to install the shelving system in the garage for the resin work. That’s messy and toxic funes result, so I already had a cobbled together area in the garage for it. Anyway. I feel happy about trying to pull the work space together again.

  6. I am almost done my Christmas shopping – a combination of on-line, small local stores and one quick trip to an outdoor mall. We had a family discussion about going to my in laws for Christmas and decided to stay put. Covid rates in Ontario are up and down and my PIL live very close to a large area in lock down, so not worth the risk.

    I always wanted a vintage silver Christmas tree and found one from the US company last year. I shipped it to a friend’s US post office box but because of the lockdown, etc., we were never able to coordinate pick up. We’re finally going to get it today – can’t wait to set it up and decorate. Nice diversion from school assignments and exam prep.

    1. Oooh! I’ve been wanting one of those. What colors are you going to decorate it in? Pics when it’s decorated!

    2. I have one of those in my attic. With a color wheel. Maybe some year I’ll get it out. Not this year. I really cut down on my decorating. It feels good with less stuff.

    3. When there was a big flood coming, almost 24 years ago, we had to clean out my parent’s crawl space fast. That included the genuine silver tinsel Christmas tree in its original box. The box was held together with many journey’s worth of mover’s tape and had “Father sure is mean” scrawled on it in red crayon. We just tossed on the truck for the charity shop. Later I found out what a desirable item it was. Someone got a treasure!

  7. While it it true that the mall is partly responsible for the decline of local retail (those old main streets in the centers of towns and the “downtown” sections of larger cities), at some point over the last 30 years or so, these same malls and the stores in them have became a version of local retail. All stores employ actual people in your town or city who make their living there–and if they are small businesses that are not part of a national chain, it is important to remember that these small business owners are people, too.

    We will fall along the “is less more or is more more?” continuum, but unless we are off the grid fending for ourselves, we will still purchase things and we have a choice to make. What the malls were to the old downtowns, Amazon and that ilk will be to most placed-based “brick and mortar” retail stores that employ actual people and provide spaces for all of us to be our outside–or public–selves. Retail stores have great value–they are where you are up close and personal with the merch, and the sales people–who have actual skills and know their merch–can provide guidance and assistance.

    If you are in a place where in-person shopping is permitted and you follow the rules (mask up and distance from customers facilitated by the rules governing in-store people limits and you are not in an obvious at-risk group), you might consider shopping locally and in person to assure that once this is over (and it will be over) there are places to go in person again.

    A world where we can largely only purchase on line is one that I don’t want to live in–the joy that in-person commerce brings, which includes live interpersonal exchanges, is real. I believe that in-person commerce plays an important role in our society–it goes hand-in-hand with the development and sustainability of community and it is the foundation for a civic space that goes beyond commerce.

    So, while I am refashioning sweaters that I knitted (with yarn purchased in local stores) years ago (taking out the turtlenecks from those cropped sweaters–what were we thinking?–and adding the “new” yarn to the bottom), I see the sale signs in my local stores, which in NYC is a larger area. They are desperate to stay in business at this point, and I buy a new sweater or something else that I need (which for me is a wider concept than it is for others) to help increase the chances that they will weather this storm and be around when this is over.

    After 9/11, Mayor Bloomberg told us it was a civic good to go shopping and eat in restaurants, which now means bundling up and eating at tables on the sidewalks outside the restaurants. It was true then and I believe it is true now.

    1. For me it comes down to people vs businesses. Yes, I know people run businesses and work in businesses, but people getting sick and overwhelming hospitals trumps businesses. Our economy has been shifting for awhile, the pandemic just accelerated it. Once we’re out of lockdown and the virus is under control, of course people will go back to shopping in real life, it’s too much fun, too immediate not to. But right now? No. Hospitals all over the country are overwhelmed, the virus is everywhere, and there really is no safe in-person shopping, just kind of safe (six feet apart, masks). And especially now with so many people being so irresponsible, nope. I understand the need to save bricks-and-mortar, but keeping people safe comes first.

      1. I understand–that is not an irrational evaluation. I happen to live in a place where the guidelines in place from almost the beginning were as science-based as possible and where compliance has been quite high. Even with all that, though, I do understand that people must make their own risk assessments.

        But not going to the mall, which I read as not going shopping (since we don’t have malls in NYC, though some argue that lower Broadway is just one large outdoor mall), made me awfully sad and despairing on many levels. That’s just me, but it caused me to respond, which I hardly ever do.

        Until there is another lock-down–and I greatly hope there isn’t one in our future–my risk assessment will include in person shopping in stores with serious guidelines on their end, when I need what they sell and especially when they are the very businesses I went to before the whole nightmare.

        For fuck’s sake, I used to go to the grocery story and the pharmacy during lock down to buy the essentials and the non-essentials. At the grocery store, I noticed they sell hard-milled french soaps that smell nice right next to the national brands, and, at the pharmacy, I discovered Revlon’s long-lasting lip “paint” (for lack of a better word) that doesn’t transfer to the mask and I tried out all sorts of other stuff! It kept me sane during that time, so when other retail opened up I went and will continue to go until the government closes them down or they go out of business. The number of empty storefronts on our “high” street just keep increasing.

        There is no reason to assume places will go back to the way it was and the number of people who make a city a city will be there, and what we do now will affect that.

        Just my 2 cents.

    2. I have to agree with Jenny on this one. I don’t want stores and restaurants to go out of business, but if I can die from being around a lot of people shopping in person, nothing’s worth that. At least for now, online/takeout has to be a main option.

      I just don’t think it’s safe to go anywhere where a lot of people are swarming about. I haven’t gone to any craft fairs all year and I love craft fairs–even if they tried holding them outdoors/with ventilation, those are events that depend on lots of people to come, and that’s still hazardous.

      I have been in three retail establishments the entire pandemic: (a) I ordered from our local bookstore and once we went into red tier they reneged on delivering to my house, forcing me to have to go in and pick up my orders, (b) FedEx because I had to mail a few things and could not get around it and FedEx has a lot less people than USPS, and (c) my crush’s family business where I go in when they open on a Sunday before all the people show up and everyone politely wears masks. And frankly, I’m not even sure I should be doing even those any more since almost all of my state is on purple tier now.

      I hate that it’s a choice between possible horrible death/possible permanently handicapping yourself and keeping people in business, but it is and death trumps everything. At least online lets me spend some money somewhere.

  8. What’s making me happy is painting again, and baking for the church Christmas Fair. We’ve put up a gorgeous web site so people can buy online. I made traditional turkey leftover sandwiches for lunch and my cat’s on my lap. Those two facts may be related.

  9. Agree. I’m good with online buying or local curb-side pickup when trying to support local business. In my community, there are very good contactless options.

    And although I do sometimes miss the social aspect of shopping and the tactile experience for clothes and such, for most things delivery is actually very convenient for me as a hermit-writer type. And so far our delivery folks have been great and contactless, as well. The one challenge coming now is snow because all the pathways and stairs need to be kept clear all days in case someone comes. We already had our first taste of it last week and it’s not always easy when the snow keeps coming throughout the day but still doable.

    As for happy for the week, there were a few highlights, but hubby and I also watched the old movie Little Darlings which neither of us had seen since we were kids. Really fun and while there are some historical things to keep in mind (really, would a camp hire Armand Assante to work with teen girls?) the story is actually much deeper and sensitive than I remembered. Noticed after that it was written by two women so kudos to them for that. Plus, great soundtrack. And Miranda from SITC was in it and had the best clothes which was fun, too, since decades later she ended up on a show known for fashion. I may be a tad bias on her Little Darlings wardrobe, though, since it’s so close to my own:)

  10. The mall I usually shopped in for nearly fifty years was torn down recently to make way for a newer version. Sort of like open air and no longer enclosed. Which pushes me towards on line shopping. The first rule that I gave myself is to be sure I can return anything without mailing back. So stores have to be within driving distance. Plus it has to be free shipping which means spending a certain amount. I can do that. One of my granddaughters sat at the table and asked for a pen and paper to start her Christmas list. When she reached eighteen items I asked if any could be bought from the dollar store. She’ll get it when she starts earning her own money.

    I have zero interest in technology, things just kept coming at a rapid pace so that I can no longer keep up. When our grandson was over I saw him fiddling with the TV. And then let it go from my mind. Later that week I noticed a new channel. We didn’t have Netflix, but with the app from his phone he included us with his package. Who knew that could happen. Honestly all I use my phone for is the kindle app.

  11. The mall I shopped at for decades in North Seattle is being torn down to make way for, of all things, an ice rink for a hockey team the city decided to woo. Northgate Mall was one of the first, if not *the* first inside malls in the US. It was the major shopping area for that area and for the people who aren’t wealthy (those people have Bellevue Square on the east side of Lake Washington). Now those folks have to either drive to one of the other malls — east or way south — or find some other way to shop at a lot of those stores. Both those options are tough for people lower than middle-class. Hell, both those options are tough for regular middle-class — I rarely went to other malls when I lived there (pre-2001). The mall needed to be updated, but it was useful.

    1. When I was going to the UW, I thought the Nordstrom at North Gate had better sales then the one downtown. I even did my grocery shopping at the supermarket there sometimes. I think it was QFC. And my doctor had a clinic there. My husband on the other had never shopped there.

      Our friends who have lived in Lake Forest Park for the last 30 years never shop there and it is very close by for them.

    2. Southdale Mall, in a suburb of Minneapolis, was the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States. In the winter, you’d never see the sun unless you were lucky enough to be in charge of opening the doors at the beginning of business hours and could see all the way across the mall to a window in the back of the store at the opposite end of the mall. I haven’t been there since I moved out of Minnesota in 1986, so I have no idea how or if it has been renovated.

  12. I cleared a space to grow flowers for cutting on the allotment: a fellow plot-holder not only helped me erect a couple of rusty scaffold poles which I’m going to wire together for growing climbers, but got me a barrow of muck (I’ve promised myself I’m not barrowing muck again; will pay more for the cost-price bagged stuff they sell in the spring). So I’m ready to move a Japanese quince, giant scabious and a spare penstemon. Also sowed two polyanthus mixtures this morning – and sowing’s always a hopeful, happy thing to do.

  13. I used to work across the street from one of LA’s largest and nicest malls, so I enjoyed the luxury of popping over on my lunch break or after work. Now that I’m retired, and with the plague all around us, the very idea of a mall gives me the shivers.

    I don’t see much gifting this year – DH’s brother is in Thailand and sis is in Nova Scotia, so gifts for them would include a trip to the post office – no thanks! And my brothers and I haven’t exchanged gifts in years. I’ll probably send favorite niece something, as long as I can order online and ship direct, or it’s small enough that I can avoid the post office and its exposures.

    1. I‘ve sent things to friends in London through my Amazon UK account. No trip to the post office and shipping costs are lower because the items are shipped within England. It’s great if you have a kid studying abroad.

      You could probably open an Amazon Canada account and order something sent from it your sister in Nova Scotia .

      Happy Holidays to All!

      1. You can. I’ve had an Amazon UK account for many years — it used to be the only way I could find certain books that just weren’t available in the US. Now I have that, an Amazon.ca for Canada, and an Amazon.de for Germany (more specialist books, of course). Never had a problem.

        1. Deborah, I didn’t need to get a special Amazon account to send things to my son and daughter-in-law in Poland. There is no Amazon Poland, and I can’t mail things easily to Poland. However, it turns out that Amazon Germany (amazon.de) now ships to Poland. So after buying perfume for my daughter-in-law, only to discover that I can’t mail it from the US, I used amazon.de.

          I didn’t need to make an account. I just started from amazon.de.

          Amusing bits: Amazon Germany’s distribution warehouses are in Poland even though there is no Amazon Poland. Also, now I have a bottle of perfume that will have to wait until next year to be a Christmas gift; perfume doesn’t have a sell by date, does it?

        2. Log in, look to the right of the search bar, and you’ll see a flag.
          Click on the flag, and look at the bottom choice, “Change country/region”
          Go from there.

    2. Yeah, I so far have refused to mail anyone any gifts. I’m not sure if I am going to cave in on this one later for people who are too far away to drive things to drop off on their porch, but in general I don’t think it’s a good idea.

      Honestly, very, very few people are going to get any gifts from me this year. Most of my friends don’t even want to do any and/or haven’t been in contact much this year at all, so for me it will probably be only the people who insist on getting their prezzies or else they throw shit fits, really. (One of my friends is a real effing lulu on this topic because expensive gifts are her only love language, but hers got ordered months ago, so she’s done, at least. Even with that, she has still not been fun to deal with this year on the topic. I’m soooooooo sick of hearing about how much money is spent and and how nobody reciprocates enough.)

      I told my mother she has to tell me what she wants this year, which so far she has been reluctant to do, because guessing what she wants/likes is gonna be even worse under the circumstances. I’m making her some cross stitch pieces that hopefully I can fit into a regular envelope or…something that doesn’t require me to physically get help to mail. I hope.

  14. Oh, right. Happy. 1) I’m alive and healthy. 2) My pink (I seem to have developed a fondness for certain pinks after a lifetime of hating pink) cotton throw is soft and warm. 3) I bought a new cover for my iPad mini — first generation; it is bright and colorful and my old one fell apart after only about six months. This one seems sturdier.

  15. I have never been a shopper. I’m one of those people who have a list and go into a store to get what I need and then out. And I’ve got enough ‘stuff’ to last me for another decade. Except for books and some crafting stuff.

    My youngest sister (the baby) asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I suggested we stop the birthday presents (we stopped Xmas years ago) and she agreed. Now, we just have to convince the middle sister to go along. That may be difficult.

    In the meantime, I asked her to donate to my favorite Sheltie rescue.

    1. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, shopping was a recreation for me. My girlfriends and I could spend hours at the mall and not buy a thing. When I moved to the Oregon Coast to live near my mom and grandma, I discovered that they loved to shop the day after Thanksgiving AND the day after Xmas! I’d stopped that several years before. Oh, the crowds!

  16. I enjoy Christmas shopping when I have a specific idea for what I want for someone. Otherwise, I dither, and second guess on what if they hate it/are allergic to chocolate/don’t drink/don’t like those colours/already have it… and then I panic and flee without getting anything.

    My darling sons, bless them, decided a few years ago that the best Christmases are the ones with just a couple of gifts that were really special instead of a pile of bits that they’ll play with for a few hours and never look at again. We try to give them a family experience gift – something like theatre tickets, or a pass to Scienceworks, which will be a bit trickier this year – and a book each, and then one thing that they really want and will use.

  17. Today the boy spent the afternoon with my parents and they decorated the xmas cake and taught him to scrump apples. I made apple cake with the results. A Sunday well spent.

    1. Does scrumping apples mean to collect windfalls? “Scrump” has a wonderful sound to it. When I checked the definition online, the most popular was to steal. Your post showed from the context that there was no stealing involved.

  18. It’s Sunday and my larder is bare. Shopping is indicated, masked and socially separated – although, I could call in an order and pick it up, just like dinner. Whatever else is true, there will be no turkey-based foods this week.

    No malls. I haven’t been to a mall in years. Scratch that – I lie. The At Home superstore is in a mall, and the dotter and I have shopped there, using the outside entrance.

    Amazon meets many of my needs.

  19. Well, it’s been a low key minibreak. As for actual happiness, I slept in till 11:25 this morning, I’m crafting, and my mom got me an online subscription to watching Hallmark Channel movies off frndlytv.com. Normally our tradition is obsessive Hallmark movie watching the entire time I’m with her (I don’t have cable since streaming exists), so she got me that so I can keep up with the shows. Huzzah!

    On a random note, Jenny, if you’re in the mood to analyze rom-coms, you might want to check out “Happiest Season” on Hulu if you have it. Boy, is that one…controversial. This is the movie where it features a gay couple except one of them is NOT out of the closet yet, hasn’t mentioned this to her girlfriend until they’re on the way over to the parents’ house and forces her back into the closet. I read a blog entry saying that this movie breaks the ultimate rom com rule that the love interest supports the heroine and well, that’s pretty accurate until the end.

    1. I have it on my watch list, I just haven’t watched TV lately because I’ve been binge reading. Definitely will watch.

  20. What made me happy this week?
    1. Seeing my siblings for Thanksgiving. We are all in our 60’s, and have been quarantining for 6 months (aside from closing out and selling Dad’s house, after Dad passed – at 93 – in March) we wanted to be together this first Thanksgiving without Dad. We laughed, played poker and board games, worked jigsaw puzzles, walked on the beach. Great four days. Our annual Thanksgiving photo shows us, distanced, wearing our masks!
    2. Being home again!
    3. Deciding that I will send food / chocolate to my siblings and friends, via online. None of us need more things, so it’s time for consumables. Fortunately, my two grown sons both gave me gift ideas, so I’ll select and order online and have the gifts delivered.

  21. There was a time in my life when I shopped for entertainment; that time is long past. For over a decade I’ve done 90% of my shopping/gift giving online. I sent the game WINGSPAN to my sister and her wife, ordered four months of live blooming flowers for my mother and my mother-in-law, and that’s me basically done.

    Happiness this weekend was a restorative offline holiday, followed by a day of writerly productivity, followed by a day of getting things done in the yard. Today we have watched a Frozen/Frozen II double feature on Disney+ and now I’m going to work on the biggest/farthest-along WIP.

  22. Happiness this week was two lengthy phone conversations with dear friends who don’t live nearby, plus Thanksgiving with a long-time friend. It was cooked by a local place, though it was pick up the day before, because they determined in-house dining was too risky. I made a pan of cornbread, and that’s it. Met up with a local friend I don’t often see for coffee and conversation on Friday, so a very lovely, people-ful week for me.
    Plus I got a few short writing projects drafted.

  23. Happiness for me was discovering that I can send flat rate boxes via USPS from my home at no extra charge. Once you create an account with USPS, you can order the boxes delivered to your home at no charge and then when you want to send a package, you just go online and set up the day you want the package picked up and your postal carrier picks it up when they make their regular delivery. You print the label on regular paper or on label stock and you even get e-mail updates on the progress of your package. USPS markets this as Click-N-Ship.

    My mother is in a memory care facility and the pandemic lock down made me hesitate to send anything to her that I could not be assured was safe, so finding out I could send holiday themed cards, decorations, and homemade cookies made me happy. And I didn’t have to wait in line at the Post Office.

      1. I’ve only shipped the flat rate priority mail boxes – if it fits in the box and weighs no more than 70 pounds, it is the rate for that sized box. I’ve been using the medium flat rate box that costs $15.05 and I’ve been using PayPal as my form of payment, but you can use your credit card. There are different sized boxes with the price dependent upon the size. Some items might not work well with the size of boxes available for flat rate shipping. If you check the USPS website, there is lots of information there that is helpful.

        I’ve used the flat rate shipping option for years and just this year found out I don’t have to wait in line at the post office. (I guess I’m a late adopter of this service.)

        The one thing I learned was that it’s wise to put up the flag on you mailbox and leave a note to the postal carrier to remind them to pick up your package, just in case they haven’t received the pick up notification that day.

  24. Happiness this week was a low-key Thanksgiving meal (and the kittens behaved VERY well without prompting, to my surprise).

    Happiness was the arrival from Australia of DEATH IN DAYLESFORD, the newest Phryne Fisher (I stuck a afterthought about it in Thursday’s Good Book entries, but by now who’s looking at last Thursday?).

    Happiness is being amused by a new YouTube video on “What Ancient Egyptian Sounded Like”; not sure I agree with everything said, but I learned some things I didn’t know before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-K5OjAkiEA

    Happiness is the terrific folks at the Dickens Fair, who can’t hold the actual event even in the Cow Palace, but are posting selected bits and pieces of it over the five weeks before Christmas.

    Happiness is also being presented with the 2020 Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar. My cousin has been giving us these for several years — she gave them to my mother in the last few years of Mother’s life, and now is sending them to me. We were stationed in Germany during the Occupation and Advent calendars have been part of the holiday season for me for rather more than sixty years, even when they weren’t used much in the United States.

    Happiness — or at least hopefulness — is having someone email me this afternoon to ask whether I know anything about a project to restore the White House Rose Garden, on the q.t. I don’t, but I’m thinking of places to ask where someone might.

  25. My Great Dane, Murphy, learned to shake hands this week. He wasn’t getting it all until he watched Angus, our service dog in training, demonstrate it. (We teach the pups to shake and the trainers at Advanced Training pair SHAKE with the UP command to teach the dogs to turn on lights, hit the blue buttons to open doors, etc.) Now Murphy gravely lifts his paw in time with Angus: synchronized shaking. It’s pretty funny.
    And today I went to the quirky bookstore where I work part-time, and we had 72 online orders since closing yesterday at 5pm. That’s so encouraging for a small shop like ours. I am only working when the store is closed to customers; I don’t care if they are masked, socially distanced and have used hand sanitizer. I love filling online orders. Plus, we ship (not free, but as cheap as we can) and we’ll wrap your gifts (free!), too.

  26. I think it has been more than a decade since I’ve been at the mall that is located just a few miles from where I live. Decades ago, it had a Walden’s Books, which was a draw, but then it became a hot-bed of crime and stores started to disappear, so there was no reason to visit. I think now all that remains is a Walmart and a Macy’s. I did come *close* to the mall yesterday, as the local Christmas tree lot set up shop in the abandoned parking lot. I was not able to best my previous record acquiring a tree in 5 minutes, but I think I made it in about 10 minutes this time, without ever coming within about 10 feet of anyone.

    Now I’m safely back at home, where the only contact (socially distant, of course) I’m likely to have is with the refrigerator repairman and the flood-remediation people next week. Not my idea of a good time, but a broken water line can’t be ignored, even now.

  27. Watching Dash & Lily on Netflix made me happy last week. The qurky characters and the lush and warm visuals. Having the Strand as another character in the story. Knowing that they are in trouble right now I tried to order online, but the cost of shipping internationally turned out to be excruciating. So I just hope they’ll still be there when we manage to save up enough to make it over the pond someday…

    We had a talk regarding gifts this year. The kids need some useful stuff and will get a few fun things that are useful as well (t-shirts with a corgie/cat), but I prefer to gift experiences otherwise. Dear son and my father spent a weekend forging knives lately. With masks and distancing. Had fun and were exhausted afterwards.
    For friends I’ve almost finished shopping (books and wool and such things, bought locally). Will have to send them by post, but there’s a very small office nearby very efficient with precautions.
    The best gift for me will be to spend time with loved ones. So we’ll try to self-quarantine before xmas for sure.

  28. I am shopping small this year, and did most of it in October. Now I just need to fill in the gaps. Most people are getting some combination of tea, soap and chocolate, all made locally by people I know. It’s all about comfort this year.

    If anyone is looking for tea, The Tria Prima has a website that ships. It’s all local (to Pa) or ethically grown. I’m not big on caffeine, so Honey bee or Rose Garden are my favorites. But Poetry smells divine.

    I am working a half week on, half week off schedule, which I am determined to use wisely. Last shut down I was too anxious. This one hopefully I will manage better. This time is a gift that I will never see again as a working person.

    And I am not doing any craft shows this year. I have never had such a quiet holiday season. Instead I am concentrating on my etsy shops, which is nice. I tend to overextend myself. Hopefully I learn to choose better in the future.

  29. I run a small local artists’ cooperative, so I’m hoping people will shop local this year. So far we’re doing better than expected, in part because people are clearly shopping early (some worry about a shutdown, and also realistic concerns about mailing things). I’m just praying we can stay open and continue to do well, because if we don’t, that’s it for us. (After 21 years.)

    I’m trying to put my money where my mouth is and shop on Main Street as much as I can, although a few of the things I need can only come from Amazon.

    I make and sell gemstone jewelry, and this year is NOT a jewelry year. No one is going anywhere, and masks make earrings tough. But as long as the shop’s sales are good overall, I don’t care. We have a great set up for distancing (we’re never crowded), clean multiple times a day, and require masks. Hopefully people feel safe shopping with us.

    1. If new york state were not so damned big, I would go to shop! Seems a big schlep from nyc!

      Where is the collective again?

  30. Happiness is starting Christmas decorating pretty early this year. I have lots of decorations as I am unable to resist post-Christmas clearance sales, so I started unpacking before Thanksgiving. There are things I forgot I had, so it’s a bit like shopping that costs nothing. My house is beginning to look like Christmas threw up in it, which is how I like it. Lights everywhere! Tiny Christmas houses! Snowmen! Christmas trees! Many Bumbles from Rudolph! (Somehow I have acquired a collection.) Tasteful it is not.

    My mom officially canceled Christmas at her house this year *and* suggested limiting the number of gifts we are buying. I am relieved. I find Christmas with the family very tiring. We’ll do our present-opening via Zoom, and then I will have the rest of the day free. Glorious!

    I’ve also been watching random Christmas shows and movies–Good ones, bad ones, indifferent ones. As long as they have a HEA, I am satisfied.

    Over the weekend Bake with a Legend, which is a company that puts on cooking lessons with Great British Bake0ff participants, did a free online scone baking class, which was really good fun. I still had leftover pie, so I skipped baking the scones. (They are doing another one on the 6th if anyone is interested.)

  31. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was in a Shopping Mall.

    I am more of a Thrift Store gal.

  32. Drawing class was the thing that made me happiest this week. I’m really enjoying the process as well as the result. I bought some watercolor pencils and started a drawing I’ll be able to use them on. Anticipating that makes me happy.

    Other than that, I spent Sunday afternoon wandering round our botanical gardens with my partner. Lovely summer weather and the rose gardens are out in splendor. It was peaceful and beautiful and made me really appreciate my city and my partner.

  33. When I was in my twenties, we would often come into the Gardens for a wander after work. The best days were ones I brought my book, and parked up on one of the benches in the rose garden for an hour or so. Even remembering makes me happy, the late afternoon sun low and golden, the perfume of the roses, and the occasional swoop of a kereru.

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