Monday, October 19, 2020

The little things that can keep us happy now

Last week, Max asked if he could go to school the next morning. I told him no, not yet. I'd like it as much as he would, but we're waiting to see where the Covid infection rate is headed. The next morning, Max looked at me and said "It's pizza day!" Meaning, Thursdays used to be pizza day at his school. (The students in the building have snack breaks, but no lunch.) Max always looked forward to pizza day. Then he pointed down. "Ah, you want it to be pizza day here!" I said. "Yes!!!" he answered, and he had English muffin pizza for lunch.

Max knew just the thing that would make him happy, and he told me. That was awesome. Lately, it hasn't been as easy for me to figure out the same. Unlike pizza, happiness does not just show up on your kitchen table. Obviously, my kids make me happy (when they are not driving me batty). But a bunch of the stuff that I typically enjoy—everything from reading time on my morning commute to vacations with the family—are on hold for now. Like many parents out there, my days are extra-hectic as I juggle work, virtual schooling, and the cooking and cleanup involved with a family mostly at home all the time. It's hard to be alone, let alone do something enjoyable. My mind is too busy to even zone out to TV. 

Then someone at work made me think about something that always brings me happiness and comfort. She recommended listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on Audible. read by Kenneth Branaugh and other notables. I'd loved that series as a child. In fact, when I pondered it (as in: I ACTUALLY DEDICATED TIME TO THINKING), revisiting faves from when I was younger brings me joy in a way unlike anything else. And maybe I needed to work more of that stuff into my life. Not just comfort reads and comfort food (though there's a lot to be said about comfort cupcakes—I'll get to that in a sec), but comfort activities and comfort entertainment and the comfort of old friends.

Like the happy feeling I have doing puzzles. Someone recently gave me a Dell Express Fill-in Puzzle book. I used to do similar ones as a kid. I wasn't sure I could find the time but I started doing one while standing at the kitchen counter the day I got the book, and I couldn't stop until I finished it. For the first time in forever, I wasn't thinking about politics or the pandemic. Some weeks, I don't get around to doing a puzzle, but I am going to leave the book on my nightstand so I remember to.

Like the happiness I felt when we were driving in the car this weekend and Blister in the Sun came on and I sang the whole song. "College song!" said Dave. Totally. I made a mental note to reach out to old college friends; my plan is to call or zoom one a week. I mean, what makes you happier than college friends and college memories? 

Like the happiness I felt when I got Halloween cupcakes in our recent supermarket delivery, the orange-frosted kind topped with candy corn that I loved as a kid. They're made by Entenmann's and I think they may only be available in the NY area and I'm very sorry if you are now drooling on your keyboard.

Like the happiness I felt the other weekend at a local crafts program a friend started in her backyard, Pop Blossom Studio. I've been taking Ben on Sunday mornings. Lending him a hand as he's made a glorious pair of wings and a mobile has been fun. While he was taking a break on the swing set the other week, though, I grabbed a birch wood slice lying on the table, traced the rings with pastel paint and totally zoned out for a few minutes. I don't have much time for crafting, but it made me realize that I needed to.  

Like the happy feeling I get when I put on this retro-style watermelon lip gloss. My sister and I loved it as kids and months ago she found some and bought me a tin. The smell of it totally takes me back. 

Like the happiness I felt Saturday night when Matt, a super-nice guy in our neighborhood, had a lawn viewing of The Rocky Horror Show. As a teen, for years I'd see it every Saturday night at midnight during summer. This weekend's viewing started at 7:00; Sabrina was hanging with friends and Dave had taken the boys to his sister's, so I went alone. I hadn't seen the movie for decades but I remembered every song and how to do The Time Warp. Sitting there in the chill on a camp chair, surrounded by neighbors, I felt all warm and fuzzy. It's not exactly one to share with the kids, exactly, but next weekend I'm going to pick an old fave—maybe Splash—for movie night. 


  1. The little things - like when I took my son to my most favorite ENT ever (she automatically uses sign when talking with my son to give him 2 ways to help him understand). But she immediately knew once she saw the culture report why he is continually having major ear drainage.

    My twin sister is loving her retirement (I on the other hand am still working).

    My girls (20 and 22, stuck at home due to COVID) were able to drive from Missouri to rural Michigan to spend time with their aunt and all 3 had a great time.

    After all of my chemo my hair is growing back a steel gray and curly. (It was a starting-to-gray brown and straight.)

  2. This is such a wonderful perspective, Ellen. These are such challenging times and I always feel sad when I think about how our kids are processing this - both expressed and internalized - and I appreciate and like how you find a way to stay positive and to see the silver lining.

  3. Hi I am a uni student that is doing a project in children with severe disabilities

    I can do all the research that I can but I wanted to get something from a person that lives that life .

    My project is to design something that relates to cost of living and I chose parents with disabled children.

    I was wondering if I could get your opinion and your ideas to how I could make the overall design better.

    My email is
    Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you soon


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...