Yesterday the little family, who had spent Thanksgiving with us, had to leave by 10 a.m. so my husband and I had Black Friday to ourselves. I spent it in front of the woodstove, reading. It was a Blank Friday.
I did not pick up the last of the toys scattered on the floor. I did not speak more than 10 words to Vic. I did not exercise. I did not go out of the house. I nibbled leftovers all day but, after making a breakfast frittata for everybody out of the leftover mashed potatoes with leeks, I did not feed anybody else. I did not go online and post pictures of our Thanksgiving table or our Thanksgiving snow. I did not go online, period.
I can’t say we didn’t shop because Vic, who relaxes by going online, bought a new DVD player online, one that would show subtitles for the hearing impaired for streaming movies, as our current player does not. Who knew that this was a feature of the player, not Netflix? My brother, that’s who. After our dinner, my husband and I and our daughter’s family drove over the river and through the woods in the blowing snow (daughter and I wedged in backseat on either side of the granddaughter’s carseat) to his home an hour away late Thanksgiving afternoon.
There, while the 4-year-old kept urging Great Aunt Judy to make more popcorn (guess who ate two bites of turkey and three of mashed potatoes at dinner) and examined the delicate treasures so artfully displayed on shelves and tables (toys aren’t necessary for her; give her a new house to explore any day), the adults lounged on soft sofas and communed. It is in only in such situations that essential information about life, like DVD players and subtitles, can emerge. How would you think to even ask such questions?
It was a very relaxed Thanksgiving. Sure, I discovered that my meat thermometer didn’t work and, for the second year in a row, I almost burned the stuffing (I am experimenting with gluten-free and it does not work for my famous stuffing recipe), but no big deal. I rose early to wrestle the bird into the oven and, on Friday, I rose even earlier to cook the bones for broth so I could send some home with my daughter, but I even went back to bed and slept a few more hours that day.
Still, when all was said and done, I was exhausted. I stayed put yesterday, not in a principled Black Friday boycott but because I couldn’t move.
Perhaps it was because a cold was coming on. Yeah, that’s it. I needed to rest and it worked; no signs of a cold this morning. But since when have I been able to sit all day, even take two short snoozes, go to bed early, and sleep nearly 10 hours, like I did last night?
After all that rest, this morning I am able to contemplate doing laundry (so far it is just contemplation) and maybe even getting out to the Y. Certainly I will turn some of the broth into turkey soup. But my body still feels like, well, staying put.
Here is what it is like to grow older. You are able to be normal most of the time, especially when you are around other people. But little things, like the stress of driving through a snowstorm even when you aren’t driving, or orchestrating the serving of four hot dishes at once, or drinking a cup of tea that doesn’t agree with you, or a sore wrist, or lying awake for two hours in the middle of the night thinking about things you can’t do anything about–these little things add up. And before you know it, you’re slammed. And then you need recovery time. A lot of it. More than you think you do, because your need for recovery time keeps expanding at an alarming rate.
This is a nice thing about the extra solitude of retirement. You can hide that recovery time from other people. What do retired people do all day? Oh, we are really, really busy recovering from what you see us doing when we are with you.