Monday, November 30, 2020

Another developmental milestone experts never mention

Max, as you may have heard, has his heart set on moving to Los Angeles. He likes warm places, and he has fond memories of few trips we've made there. Since he can't visit L.A. these days, he consoles himself by talking about it nonstop. He recently watched La La Land and has declared it to be his favorite movie. It also makes him feel good to go by L.A. time, three hours earlier for us. (If we tell him he has to go to sleep at 10:00, he'll say "No, 7:00!") Last week, Max figured out yet another way to bring L.A. to N.J.: Get into that California chill mindset.

My sister-in-law, Emily, is a yoga teacher who owns Sun Moon Yoga and Healing in Long Branch, NJ. She's been offering private classes during the pandemic, and runs small school pods, too. Max got it into his head that he needed a yoga session with her. He booked a date for Saturday, and texted the speech therapist who he usually sees on Saturday mornings that he needed to have his session with her on Friday instead. That worked out.

Saturday, Max and Dave took off for his yoga rendezvous. They met at Emily's sun-filled studio and for 45 minutes, they yoga-ed. Dave sent me photos and I literally could not believe my eyes. Max is used to yoga from doing it at school over the years. He'd never seemed that into it but there was Max clearly loving it. He even took off his Fire Department of Los Angeles baseball cap, which he typically only does to shower or sleep. 

Emily did a series of slower moves. She spoke about Los Angeles, the beach and relaxing. Instead of the "tree" pose they did the "palm tree" pose (much more L.A.). There was a bit of physical therapy thrown in there, too. 


I'd say that deciding you are going to have an L.A. state of mind when there's no other escape from the chilly realities of New Jersey and the pandemic is pretty darn smart. It's maturity. It's progress, the kind you'd never read about in a developmental book or hear about from a doctor. I know adults who don't know how to make themselves content like this. 

Max was grinning when he got home. For the rest of the weekend, he talked about doing yoga with Emily. Last night, he was hanging out in his Max cave (aka the basement) when he texted Dave that he wants to do yoga every Saturday and would that be OK?

This. Boy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Really cool gifts for kids and teens with disabilities 2020

Because our kids and teens deserve especially great treats this year. 

A custom t-shirt

Max's favorite phrase is "Los Angeles is my home." His second favorite phrase is "New Jersey is disgusting." How could I not get him the t-shirt?! I bought the one above from Custom Ink and while I can't say it was a bargain, their customer service is exceptional. Within about 10 minutes of placing my order, I got a call from Cindy who pointed out that the color I'd picked might not show up so well. She helped me choose a different one. (For the record: We are expecting Max to wear this out in public only under a jacket, so as not to offend the many people who love NJ.)

A gift certificate to favorite restaurants

You support local business. Your child gets yummy eats. Win-win!

A bean bag chair

The microsuede bean bag chairs by Sofa Sack are highly rated and come in a variety of colors. Find them here

Scented play dough

Aroma Dough is eco-friendly, easy to manipulate and comes in fun scents including Tutti Fruity and Lollipop Lime. Find it here. Crayola makes a holiday-scented gift pack; find it here.

Also makes good scents: Aromatherapy shower steamers

For any teen who loves to shower! You place these aromatherapy shower steamer tablets in a corner of the shower and they just inhale and hopefully relax. Find this gift set here.

Soccer boppers

A super-fun way to get kids' arms moving—these slide onto their hands and they can bop you, their siblings or just the couch. Find it here.

A magnetic connector toy

Magnetic-based toys are great for STEM learning and fun, and can be easier to manipulate than other toys because the magnetics instantly stick. I'm a fan of the ones by Geomag; find this 35-piece set here. Some children may need help with grasping the balls. 

An inflatable sled 

The inflatable winter sled by Funboy has back support and room for two. Find it here

A great fidget

A flippy chain fidget with large-ish rings, like this one by Tom's, can be manipulated in any number of ways. Find it here.

A custom portrait

For any child or teen who loves to look at themselves in the mirror. It's easy: You just zap a photo and get a digital portrait emailed to you. I especially love the colorful ones by Etsy store Pittura Portraits.

An Echo Dot

The latest Echo Dot smart speaker has a clock, too. Find it here.


Super-fun, great for gross-motor and fine-motor skills and extremely bounce-tastic. Find it here.

A microwave pasta cooker

Kinda random but: If you have a teen with fine-motor-skill challenges who's a pasta maniac, like mine is, this silicone microwavable pasta maker by Lekue is easier to manipulate than a big pot with water. Find it here

Conversation cards

There are a variety of these cards available, but I like these new ones—TalkMore Cards— because they're positively worded and encourage empathy and social awareness. Find them here.

A gift box subscription

I've heard great things about Little Passports and KiwiCo. Or try a beauty subscription from Allure or Causebox (which offers socially-conscious products), or a grooming kit for your handsome young man from Birchbox

A pandemic pet fish

This is for any parent like me who just can't commit to a puppy. Betta fish are considered especially low maintenance.

A waterproof speaker

More shower fun for those shower-loving teens (or just any music-loving teen). We have this kind by JBL—available un a bunch of colors—and it's awesome. Find it here.

A gift certificate to a movie theater offering streaming

We recently discovered that one of our favorite haunts, Angelika Film Center in New York City, is streaming indie movies. See if any in your area are offering the same.

And if you'd like to check out previous Love That Max gift guides...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Pac-Man saves the day

This guest post is by Jane Kim. A writer and mom of an eight-year-old with autism, she works in the field of immigration and lives with her family in the Philadelphia suburbs. 

These days, our household celebrates video games. They are an escape from reality, and while recognizing the inherent dangers of this, in the midst of a pandemic where the days are long and we often see a tad too much of each other, they are a welcome respite. 

Having a child on the autism spectrum presents unique challenges. For my son, T, managing his time with activities he truly enjoys and can learn from has not been easy. Therefore, his interest in video games has been awesome to watch. There are ground rules: no more than 45 minutes a day and he can’t play unless all his schoolwork has been completed. If we’re playing together – as a team or against one another – I’m a bit more relaxed with the time limit.  

I still have the Nintendo gaming system I played as a kid. Packed in bubble wrap, high on a closet shelf —indestructible to moisture or unexpected falls—my finest jewelry was more vulnerable. Years ago, I’d looked forward to the days T and I could play video games together, get our competitive juices flowing and show him that his mom had—and still has!—gaming skills. When I was a kid, playing video games was a time to unwind and engage in smack talk with my sister, in a strict household. Similar to books, video games provided an entryway to another world, and I remember feeling carefree and light.  

Vintage Nintendo!

As parents, we want our kids to experience the same things that brought us joy or peace or excitement or whatever feelings that shaped our childhood. It’s difficult for us to recognize that our kids may not seek out or value the same things we did. I didn’t anticipate that something that had provided me with endless hours of entertainment as a child would actually cause frustration for T, and me, too.

Difficulty with bilateral coordination and motor planning made video games challenging. I realized quickly that unwrapping my Nintendo gaming system was a bit premature. With a full schedule, would he find it relaxing and fun or would this be perceived as work? A secondary issue was his attention. Would he sit to play the game? I had not anticipated any of these roadblocks.   

So, as with many things, we made adjustments that let my son progress and built confidence. He started with a joystick, as it was easier to control; it ran about $30 on Amazon and came with 12 games. 

First T tackled Pac-Man, as the joystick was the only thing needed to play the game. To my delight, interesting conversations ensued about the ghosts. Which was the funniest? Why did they want to eat Pac-Man? We developed a strategy (don’t eat all the “energizers” or flashing dots all at once) and honed our attention skills (you can’t eat the ghosts when they transition back to their regular state)! 

We began cheering each other on, and then had fun trying to beat our personal best scores. Pac-Man saves the day, again.  

From Pac-Man, T moved onto Galaga and Dig Dug.  These games were a bit more complex as you needed to both control the joystick and shoot at the same time.  Yet more laughter, more cheering each other on.  T’s now having some success with Super Mario Brothers, but I suspect it doesn’t hold his attention as long due to the many nuanced bilateral hand commands needed like running fast, throwing fireballs and hunching down. He’ll get there. 

In the end, kids will be kids. There are certain things and activities many kids love: playing dress up, exploring playgrounds, swimming, riding bikes and playing video games. When my son received his ASD diagnosis, all the literature and research confirmed that communication and social interaction would be a challenge. I experienced this when he was a toddler, as he didn’t play with toys and interact with the other kids in the same way. His interests were limited and I was at a loss as to how to best introduce him to new things and experiences.  I knew it would be harder for him to connect with other kids if he didn’t share their interests. After all, aren’t shared interests the basis of most friendships?

Behaviorists will tell you to follow your kids’ lead and interests. But if interests are not innate or are limited, what is the best approach to nurture and develop them? As a result, typical kids’ interests often served as activity guideposts when T was younger, and still do somewhat. If there’s absolutely no interest, we don’t push it. But if there is, we witness his world opening up a bit more.  

For our family, it was never really about acquiring a new skill such as learning how to swim or ride a bike, although that’s always cause for celebration. It was about opening doors, nurturing connections and reveling in all the intangible benefits these connections add to our lives. These days, we can all use an extra dose of that.      

Find Jane on Twitter @JkimRites

Monday, November 23, 2020

One cure for pandemic stress: soak up the sunshine

I am on one of my car joy rides, just me alone, cruising around our neighborhood because: sanity. I get to a particularly leafy street and notice the sun streaming through colorful leaves, one of those moments that makes you feel like you are in a painting. I stop the car and stare. Just. Stare. When you're a mom, life is always a whirlwind but it's been even more so since March, when keeping up with everything takes everything I've got and I rarely take the time or have the time to just ponder and be still with my thoughts. This is probably because my brain is also working overtime to not let the weight of what is going on in the world oppress me. In the car, nobody's yelling "WHERE ARE THE SCISSORS?" or demanding a snack or asking to move to Los Angeles (Max, of course).  For now, I am in the moment and I relax and let it wash through me. 

I am sitting on our front steps, taking a rare break from working in the attic—some days, I am up there nonstop from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. "I need to get out more" has a whole new meaning these days. Our neighborhood is even more quiet than usual, as it has been since March, and it's still unsettling. Sometimes it makes me think of scenes in The Walking Dead when the gang hits a new area and it's totally deserted. If zombies ever did show up, I'd think: 2020!!! I take some deep breaths and turn my face up to the sun.  

I am in the backyard with Dave and Ben, prepping for winter. It's one of our annual chores—put the deck furniture into the shed and store the outdoor toys and sports gear. But this year, I don't mind. It's 60 degrees on a November day and the sun is warming my body and mood. There is legit research on how uplifting sunlight can be—it boosts your levels of serotonin, aka the happiness hormone and improves sleep, among other benefits. Ben is giddy-excited; we have an outdoor cloth tube for jumping, and when we took a close look we realized there were slugs all over it. Ben collected them in a paper cup. We have yet to get a pandemic puppy; do pandemic slugs count? 

I am bustling around the kitchen, half-listening to Max's virtual class session. They are discussing Thanksgiving and what they are grateful for. His teacher is quite awesome. "Max, tell Mrs. A. you are grateful for her," I suggest. 

Max tells her that and she says, "Awww, Max, I am grateful for you, and every day when I see your smile. You bring sunshine."

And I look at my boy, sitting there at our kitchen table as the hellstorm of a pandemic whirls outside our door. Feeling gratitude for the blessings in your life is yet another cure for pandemic anxiety. And he beams at me and I soak up that sunshine.

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: posts with the most

What to do if you're new  

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: When life gives you lemons, make kits

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Children's books that give you all the feels

Something weird and cool is happening: Reading books to Ben at bedtime has become my new form of therapy. After a long day of grim headlines, escaping into books I've loved from my own childhood and cute new ones—and seeing Ben's reactions—is just what I need. 

Sometimes, we giggle together as we read Dragon Love Tacos, The Days The Crayons Quit and any of the Charlie and Lola books. Sometimes, when we read old classics like A Birthday for Frances and Curious George, I get the warm fuzzies. Sometimes, I rejoice about great messages, like when we read I'm Not Just A Scribble and we get to the page where he declares, "The fact that I'm different doesn't make me so bad. My colors are special, and my lines are just fine. If you'd give me a chance, we could have a great time!" 

Over the weekend, I had some rare time alone at home so of course, I organized. I waded through the bookshelf in Ben's room, plucking out books he'd outgrown and unearthing some we had yet to read. That included Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It's a classic yet somehow, my parents hadn't read it to me and I'd never read it to Max or Sabrina. Womp womp. 

As you may know, it's a heart-tugging story about a mom who loves to hold her sleeping son in her arms at bedtime—when he's 2, when he's 9, when he's a teen. I had a little lump in my throat the first time I read the song she sings: "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long I'm living, my baby you'll be." I mean, it doesn't take much to get me going these days, but I'm also acutely aware that my children are growing old, fast. Max is going to be 18 in a few weeks. Sabrina is closing in on 16. Ben just turned 5. My baaaaaaabies....

At one point in the story, the guy moves into his own house.

"Why is he moving?" Ben asked. 

"When kids grow up and become grown-ups, they often move into their own home," I explained. I was careful not to over-generalize, as it's unclear what the future holds for Max.

Ben's face crumbled and a tear leaked out of one eye.

"What's wrong?!" I asked.

"I want you to be with me," he sniveled.

"Well, the good thing about moms and dads is that their hearts are with you all the time, even if you are not both in the same place," I said. "I really will love you forever!" 

Ben shook his head, sadly. 

"OK, I will be with you if you want me to," I said. 

That placated him. Then we got to the part of the book where the mother crawls in through her adult son's bedroom window and holds him while he's sleeping and I was all: That is weird. 

The next day, I was working in our attic when Ben trotted upstairs. We talked for a bit.

"I want to read that book again, the one about loving you always," he said.

I said yes. "It made you a little upset," I noted.

"Yes, because I was worried that you wouldn't be with me," he said. I was impressed he could articulate his concern. I hugged him tight. That night, we  read it again, only it was a somewhat different experience. Ben is in that little boy poop-obsession phase and he thought it was a laugh riot to insert the word into everything.

Me: "I'll love you for...
Ben: "POOP!"
Me: "...forever, I'll like you for...
Ben: "POOP!"
Me: "...always, as long as I live my baby you'll be."


Monday, November 16, 2020

When life gives you lemons, make kits

This school year, Max was supposed to be getting hands-on work experience. But: pandemic. Although his school building is open for learning, he's been virtual. That's been going well—his teacher is phenomenal, and Max is very responsive—but getting work experience virtually is quite the challenge. 

For the last couple of months Max has been doing data entry tasks using Google spreadsheets—he logs tallies for stuff like school attendance and lunch choices. He's really good at it, although he considers it boring. Can't blame him there.

Given that Max is likely going to be learning at home for a big chunk of the school year, I was hoping for some creative ways that would enable him to practice work skills and I asked the administration for suggestions. One of the teachers who coordinates the work experience program came up with an excellent idea: have Max assemble custom kits to approximate filling orders. 

Dave picked up the supplies from school. Max's first job: to put together first aid kits in the eight silicone bins provided. The school gave us cotton swabs, bandages and cotton balls. A card provided visual instructions:

Max also received laminated "order" cards, numbered 1 to 8, with different configurations of supplies.

Grasping the cotton swabs and bandages proved tricky, so Max worked on it during his OT session at school. Next up, he tackled a school supply order, and I helped him during my work lunchtime. Max had to divvy up markers, pencils and erasers. Those erasers were tricky little suckers, and grasping the slim pencils did not come easily, either. But Max would try, try, try again. And then, holding onto the items for dear life, he'd drop them into the bins. A few times he said, "Go upstairs!" As in: "Return to your office attic, Mom, cause I've got this." When he was done, he flashed me the biggest victory smile. Next time, I'm leaving him alone. 

We're picking up two more kits at school this week. One is a gift card kit; Max will have to divvy up assorted fast-food gift cards into bins. (Max, ever the hungry teen, is surely going to insist that we load money onto some of them and use them). The other kit will involve utensil assembly—he'll have to group spoons, forks and straws. 

Educating and engaging our children during a pandemic is a huge load to bear. Thinking out of the box and advocating for our children is more key than ever. As usual, it takes a village, and I'm seriously grateful for Max's.

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up: Weekend reads, right here

What to do if you're new  

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: A teen like any other teen

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A teen like any other teen

"Talk to the hand!" Max doesn't actually say the words, but he holds up one hand and I know exactly what he means: Leave me alone, Mom! In that way, he is very much a teen like any other teen.

Oh, the list goes on.

He likes to hang out alone in our basement. Actually, that is where he prefers to sleep. We call it The Max Cave. 

He likes to take walks alone around our neighborhood, too.

He likes to eat and eat and eat. Did I mention he likes to eat? He can down his own meals and then most of Dave's, too.  

He likes to boss me and Dave around.

He likes to boss his little brother around.

He likes to boss his sister around. 

He likes to go on adventures. They are somewhat limited these days, but he is always raring to jump in the car and go anywhere new. This is markedly different from his childhood, when he would barely agree to walk into our local diner and when we did he had to sit at the same table by the bathroom every time. 

He gets gleeful about taking sips of beer.  

He is obsesses with iDevices.

He enjoys hanging out with people who are like him. This weekend, we bumped into a guy with autism  we'd met a few months ago when we were getting ice-cream in a neighboring town. The two of them texted and on Sunday night, they had ice-cream together then took a walk around. 

He wants to do what he wants to do, like not attend a therapy session if he'd rather go to the park. 

He likes to ogle Porsches and other fancy cars on the road.

He legit cares about showering. And hair gel. And his precious "Los Angeles Fire Department," which he only takes off when he sleeps.

He can be really obnoxious.

I say all this not because I am surprised—hardly. It's just that I am not sure people realize just how typical teens with disabilities can be, same as I used to say about Max as a kid. I sure had no clue before I had Max, but now I know:


There's this perception that children and teens with disabilities are angelic, but that's unfair to them because it glosses over the fact they are multi-dimensional humans with unique strengths and personalities, like every other kid and teen on the planet. And they are capable of independence, too, in whatever ways work for them. 

Something new happened over the weekend. Max and I were having a disagreement. He turned on his heel, walked out of the kitchen and yelled,



Monday, November 9, 2020

America, the beautiful once again

I was in the car on the errand, parked, when the update flashed onto my phone: Joe Biden was the president elect. I started crying, relief and joy flooding through me. Democracy and decency had won.

Back at home, I hugged Dave and did a happy dance with Ben. Max was giddy, too. He had also been rooting for a new president, although he does have a soft spot for Donald Trump because he thinks he's funny. This is because he believes that Alec Baldwin (aka Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live) and Trump are the same person, no matter how many times we've pointed out otherwise. 

Excitement was literally in the air. Church bells rang, people shouted in the streets, cars honked their horns. I like how Chrissy Teigen summed up the mood on Twitter: 

I appreciated this refrain that was making the rounds: 

And I really, really loved this:

We took Max, Ben and our cousin Roxy out to lunch, along with Dave's dad, in a nearby town. As we sat at the cafe—on a street that was closed so restaurants could have outdoor seating—cars cruised by with people holding Biden/Harris signs out their windows. Some stuck them out of their sun roofs. They'd honk, and the crowd would erupt in cheers. Max got up and stood on the street corner; he wanted to be right there, pumping his fist at the cars. People may have been a bit perplexed by his shirt—red, his favorite color—but his enthusiasm was unmistakable.

Late that afternoon, we took a walk to town. Max has long enjoyed walking around waving a flag, and now he had another great reason to do it. Halfway there, Ben started whining that he was tired and had to be carried and Max got grouchy because he needed an early dinner. Because: family outings! But when we arrived, we got caught up in the excitement. Our main street also closes down for dining. A DJ was blasting music, and people were literally dancing in the street. 

Shout out to my brother-in-law, Steve, who wanted Trump to win. But when I couldn't get my hand on a copy of the newspaper to save for posterity, he hunted one down sent a photo. Sorry, Steve!

This morning, I woke up to the news that Pfizer had a Covid vaccine found to be more than 90 percent effective. Just, wow. To be sure, we have two long months ahead before the inauguration and who knows how many months until the vaccine is fully available. But today, I feel hope that I haven't felt in forever. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

The Disability Blogger Weekend Link-up has winning posts

What to do if you're new  

This is a place to share a recent favorite post you've written or read. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post. Where it says "Your name" put the name of the blog followed by the title of the post you want to share (or just the name of the post, if there's no room—you get 80 characters).

Like this: Love That Max: How has the pandemic affected your town?

Where it says "Your URL" put the direct link to the post.

Click "Enter." Leave a comment if you want to say more. Go check out some great posts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

We voted like our lives and country depend on it

I posted this photo on social media the other day of Max mailing off an election ballot. He won't be of legal voting age until December, so we gave him the honor of dropping ours into our town's official mailbox.

We voted for Joe Biden, or Bo Jiden, as Ben calls him.  

We believe this country desperately needs a change in leadership. The past four years have divided the U.S. and stirred up hatred in so many ways. This is not the America we have known and loved. 

We want a president who can steer America out of this pandemic, and we trust that Joe Biden has the ethics and smarts to do so. Yesterday, White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah L. Birx, M.D., warned President Trump in a memo that the pandemic is entering a new and "deadly" phase that requires a more aggressive approach. Joe Biden believes in science. Joe Biden has a plan

We want a leader who also has a plan to help Americans with disabilities during this crisis. Joe Biden has a plan

We want a leader who cares about LGBTQ+ rights, BIPOC rights, immigrant families' rights, ALL THE PEOPLE AND ALL THE RIGHTS.

We want a leader with integrity. The man who cries wolf about fake news is the most prolific creator of it.

We want a leader who is for the people, not for himself. The fact that our president held rallies—aka super-spreader events—during a pandemic to get himself re-elected speaks for itself. 

We want a leader with a moral compass. 

We want a leader who leads not with disrespect, derision or defensiveness (see: Twitter) but with fairness, cohesiveness and confidence. 

We want a leader who will be a role model for children and adults.

We are sick and tired of the ignorance, incompetence, arrogance and awfulness.

We want to live in The United States, once again.

We voted with all our heart and all our hope.  


Monday, November 2, 2020

How has the pandemic affected your town?

I took the day off work last week and sat at an outdoor cafe with a stack of magazines. That's when I noticed that the shop that makes acai bowls had closed. We hadn't ordered from them for a while, and I felt guilty about that. There were other customers seated around me at the eight tables. But people soon left and for a few hours that afternoon, I was the only person there. 

The closing comes on the heels of other eateries in our town shutting down: The French restaurant where I had a birthday party for Dave. Our beloved vegan bakery. A sleek restaurant in the new building in town. The Mediterranean place. 

As I juggle my anxieties about our family's well-being during the pandemic, I'm also concerned about the well-being of our town. Every single time I drive by the sign on the Italian place in the next town over that proclaims "Eat or we all starve," it tugs at my heart. The National Restaurant Association estimates that nearly one in six eating and drinking establishments in the U.S. has closed permanently or long-term as of September, with more likely to come. Thousands of small businesses have shuttered, too.

We moved to our town in New Jersey because it's a community with heart. The main street has an array of restaurants and stores as core to its essence as our charming old homes and leafy trees. The staff at my favorite coffee shop knows my name and exactly how I like my iced coffee (light with almond milk and two Equals). Businesses reopened mid-June, at 50 percent capacity. The local independent movie theater, the one that has a special place in my heart because it was where Max first saw a movie seven years ago, is still closed even though they were allowed to open before Labor Day.

Some stores have online ordering and curbside pickup, including our bookstore (it's run by the parents of an adult child with autism, so I extra adore it). The siren call of Amazon Prime is strong, but I make it a point to shop from them and get gift cards for people for birthdays and other occasions, and I'll be doing our holiday shopping locally.  Once it's cold outside, I'm not sure how we'll feel about dining in tents with heaters if the tents are totally enclosed though we'll continue to order takeout. (Indoor dining just isn't an option we're personally comfortable with, though not everyone feels the same.)

I have all all the feels for the restaurant and small business owners doing their best to get by in tough times; government aid alone (if they even do get more) won't save them. Hopes and good wishes aren't enough—we have to actively shop and support our towns. Dining and shopping as good deeds: That's a win-win. 

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