As I write in my sun room turned-office, I look out the open window at the orange and yellow leaves and think about winter.

It is coming, and none too soon.

By the time you read this, it will be Oct. 3.

When I was 13, I sat at the wooden desk my grandfather built, looking through my bedroom window, mesmerized by the snow flakes falling in October. I drew a picture of the scene.

“October 22, 1969,” I wrote under it. “Our first snowfall.”

Every year around this time, I think of that day. I am reminded that in three short weeks, we could be seeing snow, which portends winter and the upcoming holiday season.

This winter will be much different, decidedly.

Usually in October, I begin to ruminate about Thanksgiving and Christmas, not seriously, but in a distant sort of way.

I’ll poke around in my sun room closet and survey the presents I have purchased throughout the year because they seemed perfect for a particular family member or friend.

I start to ponder. Will I cook Thanksgiving dinner at home ? Will we be invited elsewhere, and if so, will we accept ?

This year, our decisions likely will be driven by uncertainty and so many unknowns:

Will the pandemic get worse between now and then?

Will families be able to congregate?

Will there be no parties, celebrations?

Will many of us be alone?

For all of the times we’ve hurried through the years, there are fewer times we have stopped to breathe and spend quality time with friends and family: weddings, funerals, holiday gatherings.

As frightening and isolating as the pandemic was when it struck, we found myriad ways to adapt as we learned more about the virus and how to protect ourselves. We wear masks, social distance, avoid crowds, work from home, host tiny gatherings out-of-doors.

Will we have holiday gatherings this year? Will family from away be able to join us?

It doesn’t appear so. Travel will likely be limited, and many of us will opt to err on the side of caution and lie low.

As holidays approach, we will be thinking of ways to do things differently, but judging by how we have adapted and been creative so far, I think we will be just fine.

We’ll focus on the things we can do rather than can’t: decorate our homes, bake and share holiday treats, go caroling door-to-door, donate to charitable organizations, take more time to write cards with special messages and partake in outdoor activities.

It’ll be a simpler season this year in our beautiful, rural state of Maine.

Small things will generate our magic, as they did in the old days: baking, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating the tree, stringing lights, watching the snow fall.

Ah, yes, the snow. Perhaps the best perk of all, living here. Can we imagine a winter without it ?


Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 32 years. Her columns appear here Saturdays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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