Home > Holiday thoughts and preparations

Holiday thoughts and preparations

December 16th, 2020 at 08:54 pm

After many years of not putting up a full size-tree (partly due to it being just me, plus my cat may get overly curious), I decided to spring for a 5-foot artificial tree. I joined a Facebook group made up of people who collect vintage Christmas ornaments/decor a few weeks ago, and it's easy to get seduced by all the glam this time of year. 

But I didn't want a plastic tree, and that's 90% of what's available if you're looking for artificial. I settled on a wrought iron tree that, since it's devoid of actual green branches, really shows off the ornaments themselves. I have a fair number of old ones collected over the  years from my grandparents and other family, and I also have some precious handmade ones from my sister, mother and grandmother. They sat in boxes in my attic for years when I chose to make do with small, tabletop trees.

I've been living like a monk since late March, just so that when I get together with my dad, once a week, that I can rest easy knowing I'm not exposing him to any virus germs. I was going to only BJs, once every 2 weeks, for months, solely becuse they had early senior hours and very wide aisles, but more recently, I've discovered how wonderful it can be to avail myself of Stop & Shop's curbside pickup. I can't understand why they're willing to charge so little ($2.95) for this service; one of their workers still has to spend at least 20 minutes running around collecting all your groceries (which you order online) and then bring it out to you in your car. I absolutely love it and think it's worth every penny, and it means zero exposure for me, which is something I tend to get anxious about.

Still, when the pandemic has subsided, I doubt I will stick with Stop & Shop, since they are noticeably more expensive than Aldi's, BJs and Trader Joe's. But I could see where their service, if they continue it, could really be a godsend if I should ever have surgery, or even if i had a bad cold and didn't feel like walking through a supermarket. So far, they've been 100% accurate in filling my orders.

I'm still working at home, and word is that in my small company, the husband/wife owners have already sold their home and moved to an island where they regularly vacation. She is a very recent cancer survivor, and I think the pandemic may have pushed them to possibly fast-forward that part of their retirement plan. 

So what this means for me is that I could be working remotely until my own retirement in 4 years. This would be wonderful. How I longed for this during much of my career! No more 40-minute drives, nice as they were (but not at night), and no more putting up with the total lack of acknowledgement that I can do a better job editing with some peace and quiet.

Plus, I have worked out a pretty sweet deal with my pay structure so now I earn a fixed weekly amount and have much better stability of income that I can plan around.  Most weeks I earn the equivalent of about $65/hr although my official rate of pay is half that. Of course, I am tied to my home as I'm essentially on call, but there's much I can do of a personal nature while I'm waiting for the next assignment.  These days I'm working about 10-14 hours a week but am "on the clock" for 3 full work days.

Yesterday I made my $7K traditional IRA contribution for 2020, and am still thinking about making a SEP-IRA contribution since with the change in my pay structure, I'm now self-employed. I may skip doing any backdoor Roth IRA conversons since that will increase my gross income and right now I'm happy to be smack dab in the 12% federal tax bracket as I just work part-time.

Christmas, like Thanksgiving, will be super quiet. I would like to plan a nice meal with a bottle of wine for just 3: me, myself and I. I will call a handful of friends and family, and hand-deliver some gifts for a local friend who lives nearby. Trying hard not to get depressed. If the weather's decent, I'll go for a walk.

Today the Northeast is gearing up for a pretty major snowstorm; we're expecting around a foot. I am somewhat better prepared for an extended outage, although that is not being forecast as the snow is expected to be light, not heavy. I have several phone power banks now and also sprung for a jackery 500 lithium battery bank with a bunch of plugs on it. Although it won't power a full-size fridge or microwave, it would let me stay in touch with the outside world during an outage with TV and charged phones, plus a few lights. Scattered around the house I also have 5 light bulbs with built-in batteries; they'll work for about 4 hours with no power, so you could conserve all but 1 til it runs out, then move on  to the next, so you have something more than flashlight at  night. I love little gadgets like that.

I did also recently purchase a "smart" scal to replace my rusting old one. The new scale syncs with its app on your smart phone and records your daily weight, BMI, bone density and more, then tracks it over time. Apparently, my old scale was off by 2 lbs.

7 Responses to “Holiday thoughts and preparations”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    I think that your tree looks lovely. Smile
    Happy holidays to you.

  2. Carol Says:

    I like your tree, too! It shows off your pretty ornaments. Happy to hear from you again! I know it's lonely, but I think you are doing the right thing to stay safe for yourself and for your Dad.
    Have a lovely holiday in spite of it all!

  3. Wink Says:

    Happy Holidays! I love the vintage ornaments, I actually have a few that are very similar.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    I love the wrought iron tree! My mom has some ornaments like that green one in the upper corner, in blue, yellow, and red that she is going to pass to me in her will. There used to be a green one also, but it broke. Actually I think she used to have a set of 12, but those things are so fragile and don't survive small grandchildren or hyper cats.

    I'd love to know your opinion on the Jackery once you've actually used it a couple of times. We are always looking for things like that. We have some battery banks, but lithium I think would be better.

  5. Dido Says:

    Love the tree, think about the SEP contribution in 2021 when you do your taxes (you should always do it after the end of the year just in case something comes up), and yes, it's always a consideration for the current year taxes when doing a *Roth conversion*.

    I recently ordered four of those light bulbs with built-in batteries; and I'll have to look into something like that Jackery in case of an extended outage (we had two in the past decade, during storms Sandy and Irene).

    How much snow did you end up getting? Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel was in my town filming just down the street from my office (and I learned from Facebook that when he shows up, it's a bad sign) but we ended up only getting about 8".

  6. rob62521 Says:

    Nice tree. I read about your Christmas group and pondered if it is the same one I look at ...Golden Glow of Christmas Past.

    I like your gadgets. Some I have never heard about. Hope your snow totals weren't so bad that you lost power.

  7. Fern Says:

    Dido, we wound up getting about 10 inches. Took me 2 passes to clear my driveway and it was a LOT. I didn't know I could wait til 2021 to do the SEP IRA contribution...good to know.

    Rob, yes, same group!!

    LuckyRobin, luckily, we didn't lose power in our most recent storm, but I was sort of secretly hoping we would, just so I could get the Jackery a test run. Smile
    Petunia, LateStart, Wink and Carol, thank you. Smile

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