Spending part of New Year’s weekend getting back in a snail mail groove as I reactivate my Postcrossing account and send random cards and letters to friends and strangers.

Also sporadically dipping my toes back into the Micro.blog timeline. Happy New Year.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day.

(Photo taken through the screen of our bedroom window)

Snail tracks back to the future

Twenty-three holiday packages later (all sent by Priority Mail), only three can be classified as painfully late in the USPS system. That’s not a bad deal given the season, the pandemic, and the horror show that worsened under politicized Postal Service leadership.

Meanwhile, I am rediscovering the joys of snail mail and hoping that my love of analog written communication will last well into 2021.

Lately, I’ve taken to printing out articles from subscribed (that is, paywalled from the general public) sources and dropping them in the mail with a short letter or sticky note. It takes a bit more engagement than just linking to things in an email, plus I like the more directed one-on-one connection as opposed to the blasted-into-the-ether mode of social media and blogging. I forgot how much I enjoy sending out mail—and getting mail myself.

I’ve also reactivated my Postcrossing account and returned to my League of Extraordinary Penpals membership (and updated my database entry there for other members) after a lengthy hiatus.

Perhaps a balance of both blogging/social media and snail mail is the way to go for me in the coming year.

This is how I troll.

I hate when I can’t remember whether I took the painkillers I intended to take.

“Dear Santa,

“We would have left cookies and milk, but we have a cat who doesn’t know how to keep his paws to himself. I hope you accept this sticky note instead.

“Frannie”

(We put out cookies and eggnog after she went to bed anyway.)

An imperfect Christmas Eve in an imperfect year

We’ve been terribly off this Advent season, which makes sense in a calendar year that has made no sense whatsoever.

We lit our Advent candles each night and got our Christmas shopping done. Beyond that, we barely did much in the way of holiday decor. We ended up getting a small, sparkly white fake tree to go with our modest parol in the living room window; we brought down one box of Christmas decor with enough ornaments to dress up this 3-foot fake tree, and somehow it finally felt like Christmas.

No Christmas Eve Mass for the first time in forever, either. It doesn’t feel right, but the archdiocesan dispensation during the pandemic has me okay with us praying through the Mass readings and midnight Mass on a screen if it means feeling safe from contagion.

It’s not a perfect Christmas Eve by any means. But we’ll make do, and thank God for it all. With a glass of coquito tonight and half a churro for dessert. Merry Christmas.

Okay, so I only got four small packages shipped, made a batch of mint fudge, and sorted through one box of Christmas stuff to find enough ornaments for our tiny tree this year. Also, Frannie and I went to confession.

The rest of the time, I designed a Word letterhead template for myself and edited part of a blog post for a friend. (I need to finish that tonight.) Oh, and I’m still battling a terrible case of intestinal upset and back pain.

So much for the weekend to-do list. If I can stand it, I’ll get that blog post edit finished, wrap up a small edit due tomorrow for work, and hope I can handle work tomorrow. Right now, it doesn’t feel like I can.

I post occasionally on Reddit on my 12-year-old’s behalf. This is her entry in a contest on the Dragonvale subreddit. All digital.

A touch of digestive upset and lower back pain is keeping me from my Christmas to-do list. Could only handle a bit of salad, a few spoonfuls of mashed potatoes, and a glass of kefir at dinner.

My daughter is 12. She becomes a teenager in 3 months.

I don’t take for granted the fact that she still reaches for my hand when we walk together.

To-do list for this weekend before Christmas:

  • Go to CCD confession at our parish.
  • WRAP GIFTS!
  • Rearrange living room and bring out Christmas decorations to finally put up.
  • Make batches of mint, vanilla fudge, and candied nuts.
  • Pack up and ship at least six boxes of fudge and other homemade confections.
  • Send out a handful of cards/letters.

It’s going to be a long weekend after a long work week.

But first, some quality sleep.

Our parish has confession time for the CCD kids Saturday morning. Time to help F brush up on the sacrament. Hoping that starting with this video – a light, kid-friendly skit that is more endearing than I’d expect an “SNL” bit about confession to be – makes that process less daunting.

The Force is strong with the Sun-Times sports copy editors.

I dreamed that I somehow pissed off Ivanka Trump, and I ended up on the lam with my husband because she and Jared Kushner were trying to kill me.

I also woke up at least twice with explosive digestive issues.

It’s been a long, dreadful week.

My cousin Raymond died today of Covid-19. If you are so inclined, please pray for the repose of his soul and consolation for those he left behind, especially his 83-year-old mother, my aunt. And prayers that this insidious virus will be defeated. Thank you.

Spending a disturbing amount of time lately having to shoo the not-so-small kitten from the dog food. I had a friend whose cat died after eating too much dog food, so I’m a little paranoid about this sort of thing.

Dogs and cats, living together.

Joined Frannie yesterday for her CCD homework: Watch the 2012 film “For Greater Glory,” a drama about the Cristeros uprising to fight Mexico’s violent crackdown on the Catholic Church in the 1920s.

I was iffy about the idea of a 12-year-old watching a bloody 2.5-hour tale of martyrdom. But this one was a deeply affecting, powerful story of faith that was worth every minute of viewing. ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

I consider myself to the left of many of my churchgoing friends and to the right of my former newsroom colleagues.

Having said that, it’s news like this – in which some San Francisco committee aims to rename 42 schools – that makes me tired of the whole “woke” thing.

Reclining at Advent

Advent begins today. I could be in a reflective and meditative mode, setting up our wreath and candles for the season.

Instead, I’m relaxing under a fleece throw, watching random episodes of Ken Burns’ “Baseball,” on my early Christmas gift: an enormous cuddly recliner that I’ve been wanting for years. This is the kind of comfort I have craved for a long time.

I could be holier at this moment. But as this terrible 2020 begins to wind down, my gut tells me I really need this kind of extended hug before I start this new liturgical year.

One of my favorite things about buying used books: the mementos tucked away as bookmarks in each tome.

Today’s Google search, crux of agonizing soul-searching, and journal prompt: “How Catholic do I have to be?”

Taking another stab at a faith community online

Created a new faith-based Twitter list of only nuns, consecrated virgins, a handful of priests and bishops, and maybe a layperson or two. This is in an effort to build an online Catholic community of prayer I can tap that isn’t cliquish or politically charged. Most online priests are awfully mansplainy, overly opinionated, and far more full of themselves than the nuns, I’ve noticed. Too many priests and bishops on social media leave me disheartened and deeply annoyed.

I’m still craving a sense of religious community that I left when I returned to Rome. Diocesan Catholic culture is bereft of coffee hours and bonding among parishioners, especially in this time of pandemic. It’s clear that individual Catholics have to build that sense of community themselves, which explains in part why I see a lot of effort to bond among folks in the world of #CatholicTwitter.

That effort, for me, is undermined these days by the QAnon Catholic conspiracy theorists who are dividing the American Church. I destroyed a previous faith-based Twitter list because too much political and conspiratorial uproar was infiltrating the conversations.

The minute I see any political tweets or supportive retweets from the likes of the Daily Caller, Trump, Catholic extremists like Taylor Marshall or the Church Militant crowd, or any number of right-wing (or far left) sources, I’ll 86 the list member. I’m disheartened enough by the secular political climate; I’m trying desperately to maintain a sense of hope and civility about my Church. And so far, I’m not doing very well.