How many times have we seniors started over? New Year’s resolutions, a big move, a change in lifestyle. We formulate good intentions for the new direction and attempt to improve our situations, sometimes successfully.

Fresh starts signal a clean slate with unlimited possibilities, a new beginning where life will be different, therefore better. 2021 has those expectations. The vaccines seem to be more readily available which promises an eventual end to this style of partial living. While we may wear masks for many more months, the dread of the virus may be lifted. We anticipate shopping with less caution as well as travel, eating, and drinking in group gatherings at restaurants and bars. Hugging instead of elbow bumps may return to a normal greeting, especially for those of us reared in the South. 

The recent inauguration events resembled a new beginning with less than social distancing leaving the prayer mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, although some spacing was observed inside. On the platform, former Presidents sat next to other attendees, and frequent hugs and friendly conversation within inches of each other were common after the ceremony. Being so close to the incoming President, they must have all been tested beforehand, but as I viewed the camaraderie, I was reminded how much I miss being able to participate in my gatherings: church, P.E.O., bridge, restaurant dining, movies.

We retired senior citizens may have adjusted more easily to the restricted activities, because jobs and salary are not a worry, and we are naturally home more than the younger set. However, modern retirees often comment that they are busier, with less spare time, than when they were working. That is a healthy lifestyle for us. Pursuing anticipated, delayed hobbies like painting, writing, boating, or golf can still be enjoyed even with the virus looming. Travel and family gatherings are on hold, but with a bit of planning and originality, we have created a lifestyle we can tolerate temporarily. Aged wisdom may have taught us to make the most of the time, regardless of the situation.

Many retired people have established their adult pods to create a social life within the confines of acceptability. We have two couples we feel safe to include in our home or join in their homes. For us, the sequestration has instigated a new aspect of the impromptu entertaining. At a moment’s notice, we can call and invite them to dinner, even for leftovers. The meal becomes secondary to getting together for company and stimulating conversation, which provides a needed break from the mundane nightly television bingeing. When normalcy returns, I hope this new routine continues.

The new year brought a new event for me, tenting for termites, and with it, new goals. Common in Coronado, tenting had not been necessary for our thirty-year-old home until now. While the preparation took hours to double bag food and medicines, remove plants, and open drawers, a positive side did emerge. At the beginning of December, we began trying to eat down the food in the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry boxes that would require bagging. It became a game of sorts to see how much we could pare down, thus reducing our workload of bagging. 

The unplanned benefit was discarding grossly expired food and medicines, cleaning the shelves before restocking, and finding creative ways to use items I had bought but had forgotten. An assortment of teas replaced the regular Lipton for my daily cold beverage. I doctor my iced tea with a healthy dose of lemon juice and sweetener, and I found that flavored teas produced a nice diversion from my southern go-to. Tomorrow I use the last flowered tea bag. I am so pleased with the end result that I plan to use the beginning of every December to limit my grocery shopping and eat what we have, use cans near expiration date, and reevaluate what is in the freezer. 

Maybe I can even be inspired to sort the closets and plastic boxes of stored seasonal clothes, keeping only those I enjoy wearing. With restricted outings, my daily wardrobe has taken on a different flare: comfy, sometimes faded, and definitely not camera ready. Though not favorites, those will remain, designated as yardwork uniforms.

Moving always necessitated discarding some things we no longer needed, but since we are retired and have been settled for many years, every cupboard and shelf is full of items squeezed in uncomfortably. Even spring cleaning has gone by the wayside. At the moment, I am motivated to purge some things and aim for Better Homes and Gardens closets. Should that chore ever rise to priority, my children will be grateful.

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