Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

And so it begins.

For the last several years, my husband’s work place has conducted a partial shutdown over the Christmas season. Actually, he’s rarely worked the week between Christmas and New Year’s. When the kids were smaller, he took those days as “vacation days”. The last couple of years, he’s been given not one, but two weeks off, and that has been pleasant enough for him. We don’t travel during this time, as we both consider it family time. Our family is all here in this area, and so here at Christmas, is where we stay.

I might have mentioned previously that my husband’s company was sold to another company, with the hand-off happening this past summer. There have been few changes in style so far, except one. There has been a slight change in the holiday closure schedule.

David finished working last Friday, December 11—and goes back to work on January 11. Yes, he will be home, with me, for 30 long days!

Financially, this isn’t too bad for us. He had accrued vacation pay, and he wisely decided to draw from that. We budget well these days, and as we’ve gotten older, we’ve discovered we really don’t need as much as we once thought we did. Our appetites are much smaller than they used to be, and not only for food. We don’t need to “go out and do things” all the time. We’re happy to stay home. We have books to read, and I, of course, not being on vacation, have books to write. You’re likely thinking that all is well, then for the Ashbury’s.

However, this is a fairly small house.

It’s not even been a week yet, and already we’ve had a couple of funny moments. On Saturday—the day after his last day at work for the year—I turned to my husband and said, “Enjoy your weekend of doing nothing, because on Monday, it’s back to work for you.” He shook his head. “Oh, no, no no. I am on holidays!” My husband has always called vacation time “holidays”, a decidedly British habit. I then said to him, “Well, I’m not on holidays.” Yes, I was baiting him. I admit it (mainly because it’s so easy and it’s fun to do). He replied that I could be if I wanted to be. It was my choice to keep working. So I agreed, and told him I had decided to take a holiday, too—a holiday from cooking for him.

Monday came, and he dutifully, even eagerly, performed his assigned task for the day—setting up the Christmas tree. I rewarded him with five dozen soft-chew chocolate chip cookies that have since dwindled very quickly.

I don’t know if I have enough ‘make work’ jobs in mind for him for thirty days. It’s going to be touch and go. It won’t be so bad if he spends his non-chore time (which would be most of his day, by the way,) watching television. He has cordless headphones, which means he mutes the television so I don’t hear a thing. No, the problem arises if he decides to spend his time on his computer or if he gets “bored” and wants to go somewhere.

His computer is not far from mine. When he is at his keyboard, I certainly know he’s near. He makes sounds. All sorts of old man sounds, yes, but there are other sounds too. If he watches YouTube (again using headphones but these ones are to facilitate his hearing and not out of consideration for me), he’ll be viewing comedy skits, so then he’s laughing. Or sixties songs, so then he’ In any event, he has the sound up so loud that I do kind of hear what he’s listening to.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to hear him laugh—except when I am trying to write.

When we discovered he was to have a whole month off—only the day before it happened, by the way—we discussed how it should go so that neither one of us would become overly stressed. And on that occasion, and as proof that he really does love me, my beloved gave me a “nuclear option”.

It’s a simple and effective one, too. If I get close to my limit, I have his permission to handle him much like his mother used to do.

I’m to tell him to go outside and play, and to not come back inside until the streetlights come on.


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