Happiness is Other People

I talked to my brother and sister-in-law on Christmas Eve about nothing important; it was wonderful.

I talked to my friend Alisa yesterday morning about how we’re doing, nothing either of us needs to remember; it was fun.

I talked to my daughter yesterday afternoon about this and that, nothing crucial; it was the best.

And the thing I remember most about all of it, is the sheer joy I felt hearing their voices, picturing them in my mind, feeling warm memories about times past and warm thoughts about futures together. I really don’t like the phone, but I love the voices.

Note to self: Call Krissie.

What made you warm and happy this week?

58 thoughts on “Happiness is Other People

  1. Same, really: a friend turning up unexpectedly for coffee and a walk on Thursday; calls yesterday from my nephew (on a short break in his ambulance-driving job) and my brother and family. Plus getting presents I actually like, so no guilt. And doing some window shopping on the Sarah Raven (gardening) website, since two presents were vouchers for them.

  2. The last couple of days before Christmas at the shop are filled with people. I get a lot of joy out of helping them find the perfect gifts, and their happiness at being in a store full of handcrafted, locally made work, instead of stuck at a mall. It reminds me I why I started doing this twenty-two years ago.

    I didn’t have much contact with people once I went home on Friday night, other than some group texts with a bunch of Betty friends. Felt a little bit sad at being alone (not because I mind being by myself on the holidays, I almost always am and it’s not my holiday, but because last year I had the housemate and we had fun) but had a nice chat on the phone with my best friend on Saturday.

    Really, for me, after a very busy and overly-peopled November and December, I’m okay with not too many people right now.

  3. Visit with in-laws went well on Friday, introduced someone to “Leverage” that night, had a pleasant, low key Christmas with lots of good food, and now looking forward to a whole week off. I have less people in my life than I used to, but I think I treasure them more. That’s certainly my intention for 2022.

    On an unrelated note, I can’t find”Questionable: When Is A Scene Not Necessary” no matter how I search. Can this one go back up? I just had yet another person to whom I wished to recommend it.

  4. We are spending Christmas with grandchildren. It has been such fun. It is currently snowing and we got to see the Northern Lights on Christmas eve. I spoke with family and everyone is safe and cozy.

    I celebrated the 5th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. When I was diagnosed, I was told my life expectancy was 3-5 years so we threw a major party.

    1. Congrats on five years! I’m a fifteen-year ovarian cancer survivor. Don’t believe everything they tell you or that you read. Party on!

    2. Oh, Phred, great on you. Now dance around, throw up your arms and howl in delight. Tell you what: I’ll do that dance too, in your honor.

  5. Being able to spend Christmas with my family has made me very happy. I am never going to take this for granted ever again.

  6. I’m nearly there. One more birthday party to host (tomorrow) and I will have completed my first December of hosting 3 birthday parties and 1 Christmas…

    And so far it has gone really well. I do feel that there were some aspects of the Christmas that should be tweaked in the future, but have made a note and am comforting myself with the thought that it was my first attempt, so was unlikely to go perfectly. No one was poisoned, and there was minimal fighting amongst the kids and none amongst the adults. And most of them said they’d had a good time.

    Food tomorrow is fairly basic and very British: sausages and mash with gravy, also peas, sweetcorn, and cauliflower pops (that last is an experiment from the frozen aisle of Asda). And Victoria sponge birthday cake (another vegan experiment – haven’t done a practice run with this one, but made the cake part today and it looks and smells as it should. A little pale, but I’m guessing that is due to the lack of dairy-butter).

    The menu is as the birthday boy requested, and feels very do-able compared to the oven-Tetris I was doing yesterday.

    I have actually really enjoyed it too. Odd moments here and there when I questioned my sanity, but overall definitely happy. Would sign up for it next year no problem (just as well re the birthdays, they aren’t going anywhere, but Christmas might migrate. We’ll see)

    I hope you all had a great holiday season so far, and even better in the future 🙂

        1. At least none of the birthdays are actually ON Christmas, are they? A former boss was born on Christmas Day and her mother named her Carol.

          1. Fortunately not, thank goodness…

            Turns out the birthday party for the 27th (husband) had to be postponed. With 15 minutes to go before guests arrived, DS started throwing up. He continued all day, poor thing, but has rallied today and is very happy to be able to keep down water and toast. We will get more daring with food choices as the day progresses if improvement continues.

    1. Or half birthdays, so it doesn’t get overshadowed by Christmas. Like when the Royal celebrate them on a more convenient day. Also since you don’t do the party on Christmas their friends can come

      1. I have considered doing a summer BBQ with this in mind, but to date it hasn’t happened.

        Maybe in 2022 if/when Covid allows.

  7. I baked cookies and did homework all week. The former was fun; the latter was necessary. Lovely long FT chat with a close friend in another province. Wine and appetizers outside by a fire with other friends. DH, DS and I tested negative and piled in the car for the 5 hr drive to my PILs. Short but enjoyable visit. We’re heading home with leftover turkey – sandwiches for the next few days!

  8. All the family Christmas plans blew up on the 23rd when my oldest great-nephew tested positive for COVID. We are postponing until everyone is healthy again and it’s safe to gather.
    Phone calls kept yesterday from feeling bleak as we all called one another to check in. It was not a bad day, just quieter than expected.
    Thank goodness the greatling seems to have a mild case. My nephew says he is sleeping a lot and is “not 100%,” but is not in distress. The whole household is holding their breath since there are 4 other children plus the parents hoping to not catch it.

    1. Same here. My Plan A had already blown up due to covid restrictions, and then Plan B blew up on Christmas Eve when one of the hosts learned she’d been exposed to covid at work, so she’s testing and quarantining. And her boss is requiring people come into the office in-person tomorrow instead of shutting down for the week after three people have tested positive (and it’s a small office, so that’s a huge percentage). No quarantine period (except the three days off for the holiday), and the workers interact with the public, who will have no notice that the entire office is a breeding ground for covid. Yeah, I’m a little angry. Okay, a lot angry.

  9. Had my good friend come, it’s been a couple of years since she’s been able, she’s been coming for twenty years. No church service choir singing, and several guests for dinner couldn’t come because the roads were iced over. One friend could walk down the road, so we had enough company for it to be a party. Since the oven’s broken, everything had to be made on the stove top, so mousse instead of pie, etc. Delish!
    Hoping for a quiet day today and to nap off some of the red wine from last night’s dinner.

  10. Had Christmas Eve and Christmas day with my parents. Traditional Thai dinner out followed by traditional Zoom reading of the Night Before Christmas to my young cousins on the Eve, and than back again in the morning for the traditional pancake breakfast, stockings, presents, the usual meal. My parents are in their 80s, so there will only be so many more. One sibling called in via Zoom for the present opening. The other slept through it or something. After dinner we played a traditional game of Scrabble where my father, as is tradition, played a word that was very sketchy. I actually didn’t notice, but would have won if I had called him out. (Amuk as a variation of amok. He won’t get away with it again.)

    Then I returned to the blissful silence of my house, watched the Ted Lasso Christmas special, and read some Murderbot before bed.

  11. Happiness was a Christmas Eve bracketed by music: Lessons and Carols from King’s College in the morning and some lovely music at the Christmas Eve service–a young, extremely talented violinist provided extra. I miss singing in a choir, especially at this time of year, but at least can hear good music. And friends sent lovely, thoughtful gifts, so I had presents to open on the 25th. Also it’s stopped raining!

  12. Low key Christmas Day yesterday. Family dinner at my niece’s home with eldest brother and assorted nephews and their in-laws. Bittersweet happiness. Brother optimistic of his future but I can see the affects of chemo and memory loss. Being with extended family made me happy. It is a winter wonderland on the west coast. Going for a walk in the snow instead of rain. Happy days.

  13. Last night, I kinda-sorta turned the official record, the Power Plant Log into my own Book of Lasts. Just a matter of adding ” for my last time.” to a number of entries.

    I fear I have tempted fate/karma/Murphy, NOT for my last time. Technically, I am not retired until January 1 – this last week of not-retirement is leave and holiday and anything at all could bite me and chew, vigorously.

    My favorite person awakened me at the crack of noon to ask if she could borrow my car. I said “Sure!” Now that I am fully awake, I realize she meant all day until tomorrow, to visit her boyfriend, and I’ll not be running to the FNFL to restock my larder. All I have to eat are eggs, bacon, and three pieces of Texas Toast (garlic butter) and a salad past its prime. And canned vegetables. And thirty-odd 64 gram cans of Underwood Deviled Ham. And crackers.

    I don’t know why I’m even thinking of complaining, except practice in curmudgeonhood. But I was looking forward to ground beef and ground pork and making I Can’t Believe It’s Not Chili.

    Be well, all of you. Enjoy… everything.

    1. Maybe put “Borrowing car, buy me takeout” on a keyring on your car keys 🙂 “but your ingredients sound similar to Thewolfepit youtube channel uses to cook dinner. He’s a basic cook and he also mentioned Texas toast which it why I thought of him.

      1. Heh. I just finished cooking/eating dinner, which was six eggs a scramblin’, five ounces onions, 4 servings minced garlic, three toasts from Texas, two fists of bacon, and a splash of Extra Virgin Oil. If I had more ingredients, I could sing it. 🙂
        Seven shakes of pepper?
        Eight glugs of root beer?
        Rats. Nothing else went in me or the frying pan.

          1. That’s re=e=e=ealy reaching. Next I’d have to enumerate saliva swallowed, and does anybody, anywhere want to know how often I scratched… anything? (And I already stretched the truth. I only ate two of the Texas Toast, and I’m not sure 9 strips of precooked bacon counts as “two fists.” )

  14. My younger son brought his children down from Sacramento, so for three glorious days I had six of my seven grandchildren around me. The only thing that would’ve made it better would have been if my oldest grandchild and his wife and the three greats had been able to come over from Nevada, so that we could all be together for the first time in three years. Alas, weather made crossing the Sierra impossible, which is not at all uncommon this time of year, so we’ll try again later on. It was a wonderful visit. ❤️❤️❤️

  15. It’s not over ’till it’s over, so it isn’t over.

    Jenny, you are absolutely right that happiness is other people. The past week began with folks arriving from Poland and California. We shared wonderful breakfasts and dinners, a visit to Old Sturbridge Village, and a birthday party, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day parties. Some of us walked the Freedom Trail in Boston, attended a Women’s Solstice 2021 party, and met up with a friend in NYC. A vast conversation.

    Today was supposed to be restful, but the COVID testing place I had lined up for the folks returning to Poland suddenly closed for the day. Frantic calls to testing centers across Massachusetts finally led to a site in Connecticut an hour’s drive away. The Atlantic-crossing folks are now heading back up here for their luggage — it will have taken 5 1/2 hours to get a 15-minute antigen test.

    The Californian just left for the Hartford/Springfield airport. I plan to squeeze into the car taking the now-tested people to Logan Airport in Boston.

    It won’t be over until I’ve heard from everyone that they’re safe back in their homes.

  16. Dinner yesterday with a bunch of cousins. It was peaceful and the food was great.

    I’m now peopled out for a few days.

  17. I’m with my mom and her boyfriend for Christmas and so far everyone feels well, thank goodness. Got some stuff I liked. It’s been pretty chill, even if I stupidly didn’t think I’d run out of the ball of yarn I was using and I was out of things to yarn ON CHRISTMAS.

    1. Out of things to yarn? At Christmas? That sounds tragic!

      Though perhaps I am speaking for myself; the constant knitting is about the only thing allowing me to hang onto my patience right now….

  18. I am still pretty much burrowed into my holiday hermit hole BUT did visit with family for coffee on this Boxing Day. Much better to not aggravate each other with too many hours of mealtime treacherous hours of exposure 🙃

  19. My furnace is keeping me warm and happy because it’s in the -30s with wind chills into the -40s. Even Fred the Polar Bear Dog runs out and back in again, no lollygagging.

    Paul and I had a very low key Christmas. I was supposed to go visit him at work but it was too cold and he was too busy. We were able to have one of his co-workers over on Christmas Eve for turkey supper and that was good. They have had a rough week at work because of the cold.

    Today I am working on my on-line art class lessons, reinforcing seams in an old crazy quilt top of my grandmother’s, and making banana muffins.

  20. We had a lovely Christmas Eve with friends, then we hosted Christmas dinner for two couples – one who live here, and the other friends from Los Angeles who now live in Tbilisi, Georgia (she works for the State Department) and are visiting Lisbon for a few days. Today we went wine tasting and touring around the peninsula across the river from Lisbon – we hadn’t been to that area yet and it was really lovely.

    I think tomorrow’s going to be a quiet day!

  21. This year Christmas was much better than last year. Last year I was in quarantine with Covid, this year, although I was alone, I was able to go out for a couple of walks.
    My youngest sister and I exchange Christmas stocking and gifts every year, mostly over the phone, unless one of us is free to visit the other, then it’s in person. Yesterday we opened our stockings while talking on the phone and had a lot of laughs as we did so. I also called my other siblings and wished them a Merry Christmas. So, although a quiet day, it was way better than last year!

    1. Our presents and tree decorating are delayed pending a PCR test on foster daughter who we will pick up if the test is neg; if it’s positive we will drop off her presents and do a family zoom. But my daughter made here from London and son from Boston. Daughter went from home to boyfriends to Germany on a business trip and each time she left someone in the last location turned Covid positive but she has miraculously remained negative ; she ended up changing plans to fly directly to Boston where she met up with my son and they visited my mom (testing daily all the way, which should be sung to jingle bells I think) and then came here.
      So we are having a quiet low fuss visit but serving all their favorite meals. It’s lovely.

  22. We had a quiet dinner for four. I am slightly remorseful because though a cousin brought dessert, I should have had vanilla ice cream at the ready to accompany it. She made a dense, highly-spiced gingerbread in the “Pine Forest” bundt pan, and it just needs a little dairy on the side. My brother was pleased with his heating pad from Maggie, who, when he plugged it in and lured her in its direction, ignored it to lie on him. Guess she’s made her preferences clear! He’s wearing the sweatshirt from Calamityware. A very happy day. The only thing left to wish for, as Bob said, was that the party was larger. I do miss the bigger family celebrations . . . .

    Lots of music, though, including the carols of my favorite modern composer of same, Alfred Burt. He wrote ‘The Star Carol,’ ‘Some Children See Him,’ ‘We’ll Dress the House,’ and ‘Nigh Bethlehem.’ He died much too young. And I’m trying to decide which version of the carol from The Wind in the Willows, ‘Carol of the Field-Mice,’ I like best. There’s also one of the most charming carols for a small children’s group, ‘Carol of the Church Mice.’

    Tomorrow off to mail my gift from my brother, the DNA sample for Ancestry.

    1. Can’t say I’m happy that we’ve lost Desmond Tutu, but he fought the good fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith.

      1. And what Trisha Ashley calls “squirty cream.” I see you can buy tinned custard on Amazon as a British import.

        1. Just finished Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley, in which there was much use and mention of “squirty cream.” I snuggled up to Google to help me with other British colloquialisms. Now I know what an Aga is, and lots of food terms. Oh! Good book.

          1. Until very recently Agas used solid fuel and were always heated. That made them a Good Thing in northern Europe and the UK, where it isn’t usually too hot, but often much too hot for summer in the US. These days it’s electricity, diesel, natural or propane gas, or oil, or, if solid fuel is used, coal, anthracite or peat briquettes.

        2. You can also get the powdered version at World Market if you have one near you. (They may have the tinned type too, but I wanted to be able to make it in small quantities.) They also often have golden syrup.

  23. Am happy to have finally received my PCR test result on Christmas Day and it was negative. We had already postponed our celebration, and that is fine because on the actual day I still wasn’t feeling great from what is just a run-of-the-mill cold. Husband and I didn’t exchange gifts yet, and the pile of presents awaits arrival of the couple of family members who will be joining us for dinner on NYE!

  24. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my kids. I enjoyed them so much. Then on Sunday, the girls came around and I finished their presents and we started and finished a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

    A big treat on Christmas Eve was that one of the twins bought a guitar in September and has been secretly practicing Christmas carols. So he serenaded us and we all sang and it was lovely. My Roommate joined us for Christmas Eve and she felt included and was happy so that was nice too.

    It was a lovely three days – relaxed and no arguments or upsets. So nice.

  25. I had a lovely chat with dotter today. She’d planned on coming back last night, but she and BF got their booster jabs together (SO romantic!) and she felt ‘orrible, after. Not feeling quite the thing today, either.

    So I made my trip to our FNFL for veggies, meat, soft drinks, meat, Atkins Royale Dark Chocolate shakes, meat, and of course, bread milk and eggs. Took the four gallons of milk (whole, 2%, 1%, and skim) directly to dotter’s fridge; soft drinks and meat to mine.

    Immediately oiled my wok and started the onions, minced garlic and red bell peppers. Instead of beef (which I had purchased, also) I added 2 pounds of “Meatloaf Mix,” which is just ground beef, pork, and veal. Then I added the Rotel diced tomatoes and chilis, which made this dish quite festive. Reds and greens throughout. I balanced the reds some more with cut green beans, then added the can of tomato sauce to finish it off. Voila! Gary’s I Can’t Believe It’s Not Chili. (I left out the garlic pepper and powdered habanero from the description, but there in there.)

    Just ate some with “diet” bread. Pepperidge Farm Very Thin Whole Wheat bread.

    I am very happy. 🙂

  26. Happy with the success of my plot to enliven the in-law family zoom (about 20 people, in a dozen squares). Several members regularly show off their dogs on these calls. So I made sock puppet dogs for the rest of us, which we all showed off on signal. The giggling and goofiness made up for my hot glue burns.

    The only drawback was that the real dog owners felt left out. Next time I’ll make them cats.

  27. Great low-key Christmas Day with my nuclear family, then 12/26 with a very small gathering of vaxxed & boosted friends since h.s. Lots of love, laughs & gifts & gratitude both days.

    Then today a browse of InD’tale Mag included a Bob Mayer article that mentioned Shane and the Hitwoman as a sequel to Agnes and the Hitman. Plugged title into a search engine to see the Nov 2021 release date and readers’ comments implying no input from Jennifer Crusie (to its detriment). Is this true? What, if anything, happened between you and Bob? If you didn’t collaborate on Shane… that makes me hesitant to read it because it’s your input that made Agnes… one of my all-time favorite reads.

    Regardless of the answers my fingers are crossed that something new from you is on the horizon. Very best wishes!

    1. Nothing out of the ordinary happened with me and Bob; we blow up at each other on a regular basis and then go back to e-mailing. I have ten books of my own started (and one finished that I’m rewriting) and I have to focus on those, so Bob went ahead with the sequel with my blessing. We still e-mail all the time–lately most of his are about Bigfoot–and we’re both working on other books. All is fine. And thank you for the best wishes!

  28. Jago Dibuja is a comic genius. I love Living With Hipster Girl and Gamer Girl, and as a Patreon supporter, I just opened Living with hipstergirl and gamergirl 519 english. I can’t link to it – it’s Patreon, you have to belong – but let me describe it. Artur, Erika, and Sophie are attending a 2022 New Years Eve party. They are near the old 2021 guy, an old man with a 2021 banner. Sophie says, “I suppose that one consolation would be that after all the things that happened this year, 2022 can hardly take us by surprise…”

    That’s when 2022 bursts from 2021’s chest, looking like the critter from Alien, except wearing the 2022 banner.

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