It’s easy to conjure the specter of Ebenezer or wear the green-faced Grinch scowl and Debbie Downer pout behind the mandatory mask this holiday season.

Indoor dining and late-night gathering restrictions have cancelled annual festive get-togethers with friends. Social distancing adds a layer of frustration to shopping. Santa Claus calls ho-ho-ho from behind a thick layer of plexiglass. Travel restrictions reduce family time to phone calls and Skype meetings. Even the office Christmas party we complained about but secretly looked forward to has been called off.

Nova Scotia author and columnist Vernon Oickle challenged us to stop dwelling on the dark side of life during the pandemic. Channel that negative energy into remembering what gives us comfort and joy. List the things we’re grateful for; the accomplishments, discoveries and blessings that came our way during a difficult year.

I thankfully accept that challenge.

My Husband
The move from my Iowa hometown in 2019 to Nova Scotia where neither of us knew anyone was stressful for a laundry list of reasons. But in our heart of hearts, we knew it was time to come home to John’s country of choice. The wisdom in his insistence that we begin the next chapter in our lives touches every other point on my list.

I’m doing what I love
Vernon Oickle asked his readers “Is there anything more depressing than getting up and going to a job every day that you really despise?” No, there isn’t. Been there and did that for too long. I am the author I was born to be. I write fiction full time. This year, I published my first romantic suspense novel and wrote my first political thriller. Character descriptions and outlines for two more novels are ready for me to tell more stories.

Our Fur Babies
Rosie and Ellis are our children on four paws. We’d smile less and our home would seem empty without them in it. We all miss Emmalee, the oldest member of our pack to cross the Rainbow Bridge last June.

The Love Lives On
The loss of my father to Covid19 has heightened our appreciation for life and the joy we can share. Happy Heavenly Christmas, Dad.

Digby scallops and Malbec
Picture a seaside table. Sailboats skim the sparkling water. Round, plump scallops, plucked fresh from the ocean and seared to perfection, fill your plate. The fragrant aroma of ruby red wine fills your glass and your nose. Your walk in the sunlight continues.

Along the Beach
The Bay of Fundy. The South Shore. Smooth as glass or roiling with waves. Ah, Nova Scotia. You intoxicate us with your bounty and your beauty.

New Friends and Caring Neighbors
Even and especially in the time of Covid19, connections are made that encourage us, delight us and help us get through a novel time.

Staying in Touch
Thanks to the wonders of technology, we safely do business, share photos, videos and cherished real time conversations with friends far away.

And at long last …

There’s Hope
Vaccines are on the way. America has chosen a new president.

This challenging year will end. A New Year will begin.

What better reasons to celebrate this holiday season.