“Since I was little, this is my favorite place to come.”
I’m a fan of finding a favorite spot, hunkering down with a comfy blanket, and diving into a good book.
I got the beating of my life when I was at the beach with my mother and decided to go back home to get my book without letting her know I was leaving. She was both grateful I was alive and hadn’t wandered off and drowned in a rip current and madder than a bag of bees that I had left without a word to anyone.
Reading a book on a beach is still one of my favorite spaces to spend time in; a beach day isn’t the same without a good book.
Finding a comfortable place seems like it would be easy enough, right? Cushy chairs, a lumpy but familiar couch and, of course, the gift of a warm bed and soft blankets are all spaces that offer us a place to rest, but it’s good to find other spots since we can’t always stay home in a blanket fort.
I have a good friend who likes to stake out her favorite seat in the coffee shops and restaurants she likes. It’s part of the reason her friends call her “Sheldon” because her spots are sacred. She even has backup spots in case her favorite one is taken.
It might sound odd, but think about it. Everyone has their place: a coffee shop, a local pub, or a cozy corner of their home.
Thanksgiving is over, and the rest of the holidays are looming large. There will be cookies to bake, meals to share, and family to visit, not to mention shopping for gifts.
This year, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, there are 38 days to get through. Thirty-eight days trying to cross off the dozens of tasks on the annual to-do list, get the decorations down from the attic, haul home a tree, light the lights, clean the house, and so much else.
Everything about this time of year involves crowds, noise and, at least for me, way too many moving parts. Some day on my tombstone, it’s going to say, “Loved a party, wouldn’t mind a drink,” but there are too many events happening.
While they are fun, I’m trying to navigate friends coming to visit, a house with too much clutter and not enough holiday cheer, and keeping enough food in the cabinets without having to hit the Basket every other day.
As an aside, how did this time of year become the season of snacking? At our house, we don’t make many complete meals around the holidays, except for Thanksgiving dinner and the annual roast beast prime rib on Christmas Day.
Most meals are bits of cheese, crackers, some Chinese takeout, and soup. There’s only so much room in my head, and at this time of year, thinking up what to have for dinner every damn day is just a bridge too far.
No other time of year calls for a comfortable space like the holiday season. When the chaos of yet another batch of cookies, yet another shopping trip, and yet another task that didn’t get checked off reaches critical mass, it’s essential to bug out to a hideaway spot.
For me, it’s a favorite vintage chair that looks like it came out of George Jetson’s sky condo. It’s tucked into a corner of my living room and comes with a throw made of something so soft I can’t imagine a sheep willingly giving it up. It’s next to a window that gets sunlight for most of the day, and there’s a pillow that’s perfect for my aching back.
We have an open floor plan in our house, and now that my children are grown and not racing around in Little Tykes cars, the living room holds what makes me happy. Framed artwork from local legend Susan J. Schrader and the paintings I made at Shipyard Art with my friend Michele Jones Brown sit alongside family photos. A hand-painted chest, a shelf made from a barrel that held Irish Whiskey, and a bunch of other bits that spark joy are all around me.
My wee pug Penny sits on the new couch, which I swore up and down she would never be allowed near, on a pillow I tried in vain to keep away from her, but maybe that is her happy spot.
So on these busy days, find a place to curl up, where you can see what makes you happy. Find just a few minutes during the day to put your feet up and take a break. Take a lesson from the sailing world around us. Drop anchor in a quiet spot, and let the world wait.
I promise it will be the best gift you can give yourself.
Brenda Kelley Kim is a regular Marblehead Current columnist.