We had such a nice quiet Christmas this year, staying in our cozy apartment. It was fun to decorate a new space after having decorated the same living room for 8 straight years. That room had a lot of very dark stained walnut woodwork, and so with decorations, it quickly became a lot to take in.
I broke up the week by working on the comic from around 9-5 with an hour break for lunch each day, and then in the evenings worked on baking. On Christmas Eve, we decorated cookies, dropped some off at Chris's parents' house and swapped gifts (with masks; we were only inside for a few minutes), and then went home and Zoomed into my childhood church's last candlelight Christmas Eve service. The church started around 100 years ago and is shutting its doors for good today. After that, Chris's extended family had a Zoom call while we cooked.
We made a later dinner, then we watched A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott) and went to bed. In the morning we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, opened gifts, and made dinner. There were a lot of desserts throughout the day. In the evening we went for a walk (it was strangely mild and breezy), and then watched Charlie Brown Christmas and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone while we played Wingspan (the most amazing board game ever).
I always feel the need to capture some of my favorite ornaments, too. New ornaments this year include: a glass pierogi (nod to our Ukrainian roots from my cousin Emily), guinea pig, cardinal, and snowman from from my mom, a penguin that I picked up at the Corning Museum last holiday season, and a felt owl that I found at an arts market here in Mansfield. I included some other pretty ones, and a couple from my Harry Potter collection from childhood.
Cooking and baking!
For baked goods this year, I made pumpkin pie, poppyseed bread, decorated cutout cookies, and sugar cookies with almond extract. For Christmas Eve dinner, we did pierogis with mushrooms and onions, minestrone soup, and homemade applesauce with rolls and ginger ale. For Christmas day, we did deviled eggs, a casserole with potatoes, onions, and cheese (my mom's "cheesy taters"), green beans with garlic and parsley, and maple ham (for Chris), more pierogis (for me), and sparkling cider. It was a lot more dishwashing that we are used to for two people! But so worth it :)
These aren't great quality photos, but we enjoyed using my grandmother's dishes to celebrate. The fancier dishes and platters are decorated with tiny ornate roses.
We went to Endicott for Thanksgiving, though we took every precaution possible. We got PCR testing done ahead of time through my work and got our results ~30 hours later. We wore masks when we first arrived and the results hadn't come in yet. I've been avoiding going out in public at all the last couple months, and Chris wears his mask, social distances, and brings his lunch to work - even if he's working in an empty house. We didn't stop anywhere on the way.
It was nice to have a Thanksgiving together, since I haven't seen my parents since December last year and Chris has never spent a holiday in my hometown. It was just the four of us, so it was very quiet. We went for a few walks, enjoyed my parents' excellent cooking, and went up to Round Top and down to Grippen Park, two public parks down the street, to enjoy new lookout areas and a hiking trail. Chris wasn't feeling great the whole time, which has been our major ongoing struggle since he got sick in May. We just wish we knew for sure whether it was covid, given the too early/too late timing of his two tests in May/June and the low-sensitivity antibody test that he got almost two months later, which the doctor didn't think would catch anything. We can't wait until the vaccine is released.
We got our tests done late in the evening when no one was around, so I ducked into the office to use the scanner and capture some of the latest drawings. I'm now in a pretty sad part of the chapter and am finding it both cathartic and really hard to draw some of these scenes without becoming very depressed. I've been taking more days off between drawing sessions, partially to not get overwhelmed, and also because my day job is very high-intensity lately and I have little energy at the end of the day.
Last weekend I spent most of my time working on a commission, this week I worked over 50 hours at my day job, and this weekend was managing a lot of holiday preparations (including illustrating and printing my holiday greeting cards) so I haven't done any comic drawing at all. I find this usually happens around the holidays though.
Next week is my last week of work, and I'm using my remaining vacation days to take a load off after a really rough year. With cases rising, Chris and I again have Covid tests scheduled proactively given rising cases, but we decided not to go anywhere for the rest of the year. It'll be a little sad, but better safe than sorry. It will be nice to have a two-week retreat to work on the comic as well.
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Mansfield, MA.