(The woodchuck is in hibernation. Here is another random chapter of The Ripple Effect)
Last week, sneezing with what I assumed was my typical snotty grandson cold, I tested positive. This was a bit of a shock, as I had convinced myself that I was one of those people who were immune to the virus, having never gotten it before. It was a very mild case—many of the Felix colds have been far worse—but I was back in lockdown two weeks before Christmas. Why couldn’t I get sick when I had nothing to do?
Somewhere around the fifth night of isolation, I was visited by a spirit. It hovered above my bed and tossed handmade Christmas gift tags at my face until I sat up with a start. I screamed when I saw the apparition, and through a swirly cloud of vanilla bean and bergamot scents, realized that I was being visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present: Martha Stewart.
“Martha, did you die so you could show me the error of my ways and guide me through past crafting errors?” I moaned.
“I’m not dead, you idiot,” she snapped at me. “This is a dream and the Paxlovid has apparently made you hallucinate me. What do you want? I have to get over to Snoop’s to shape the buffet table napkins into the Twelve days of Christmas.”
“Why have you come to visit me? Will there be other spirits coming tonight as well?”
“The only spirit I want to see is an Aperol spritz, so let’s get this over with. Why are you using all this free time feeling sorry for yourself? You’re barely sick. You are wasting precious crafting minutes lying on the couch watching stupid Netflix Christmas movies. Get up and make a damn wreath out of pinecones.”
“But I don’t have the correct supplies!” I wailed. “And I can’t go to Michael’s because I’m in quarantine!”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake—have you learned nothing from my magazine? Use what’s around the house. For example, look at all those take out containers piled up. Did you even turn on your stove this year? It looks like all you did was order Indian food.”
Prison had made Martha mean, but she had a point.
So in the spirit of being environmentally correct and getting Martha out of my bedroom, I gathered up my recyclables, a two year old bag of cranberries I found in the freezer and some fir branches I cut off my sister’s tree. And voila! I made luminaria out of garbage!
Don’t despair if you get sick this holiday season—there are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained while you sit alone and everyone else is having a good time. And if you arrange rosemary and sage sticks into a pentagram and slide it under your bed, you may be able to keep a certain perfectionist bitch out of your dreams.
It’s a good thing.