Weekend Reading
December 25, 2021

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Merry Christmas to those of you who are celebrating today!

As of Thursday morning, I was looking forward to a quiet Christmas with my mom. As of today, I’m enjoying a quarantine Christmas in my apartment with a case of Covid.

I had gotten a rapid test on Monday afternoon, before seeing my best friend and her two little kids. It was negative, and I felt fine. I continued to feel fine through Thursday morning; the rapid PCR I got was just a precaution, because I planned on spending Friday night and all of Saturday at my mom’s apartment.

In spite of all the Omicron cases in NYC, I was completely surprised when I had a positive test result. I was also so, so grateful that I’d gotten that test, just in case, and had my booster in mid-November.

I was completely asymptomatic on Day 0 (when I was diagnosed) and for 24 hours after. Thankfully, I’ve had only mild symptoms since then. Last night brought a fever, body aches, and nausea, but they all passed pretty quickly. Today I’m congested and just a bit achy. I’m staying hydrated and resting.

Quarantine is the hardest part of the whole thing. I know that I’m very lucky to be able to say that, but the isolation of 2020 is something I’ve never wanted to repeat. I’ve been prepared for the possibility of a breakthrough case, of course, but I never planned on a positive test the day before Christmas Eve. I thought I was struggling with the holiday season a few weeks ago; now I wish I were having the holiday that I anticipated with mixed feelings.

I guess it’s all a source of perspective. A few people have wished me a week of peacefulness and reflection while I’m here by myself, but there’s not much peace or comfort in the solitude. I wanted nothing to do with being alone today.

That, I think, is what the whole pandemic experience taught me. When lockdown first started, I made all these silly jokes about how the quarantine experience wouldn’t be so different from my normal, introverted, homebody life.

Oh, how I changed my tune between April 2020 and September 2020. By the time I was able to re-emerge into the world, I had discovered that many of my assumptions about how I am and what makes me happy were mistaken—at least at this point in my life.

The thing I love most about living in New York City is not my apartment. It is sights and sounds, crowds and people, restaurants and culture and packed yoga classes. The things that make me smile each day are moments of connection and humor and shared experience. The thing I like about my job is the fact that I get to share it.

What I want for myself, more than anything, is a life that is intertwined with other lives, the experience of family in every form that it takes. I work and function well on my own, but I’ve had enough of it. I feel none of the protectiveness that I used to feel about peace and quiet. Most of the joy I’ve experienced in the last two years has come from getting out into the world as much as I can, into places and activities and connections and relationships.

This Covid Christmas affirms that I’m living in the way I should be living right now. I’m seeking out the stuff that lights me up. And I can’t wait to get back out there and do more of it just as soon as my quarantine ends.

For today, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the love and messages I got from my friends. I feel glad that my mom and I were able to laugh about what was happening, in spite of our sadness that we weren’t together. And of course I was grateful to be safe, sheltered, and healing quickly.

Days like this one also affirm the same thing that was on my mind last weekend: social media has the power to create so much good in the form of connection and communication. It would have been a very lonely day for me without the friendships I’ve found and sustained virtually.

I count myself especially blessed that I can wrap up this strange holiday by spending a little time here, writing in this communal space that I cherish deeply. Thank you for that.

Here are some (Christmas) recipes and reads.


I can imagine cozying up with many cups of peppermint hot chocolate this week.

I’m all about comfort food daydreaming today, of course. Starting with this vegan pot roast.

Potato mochi soup looks so nourishing and perfect for winter.

More soup, and one that is appropriately titled for my circumstances: a healing butternut squash lentil soup.

How stunning is Jessica’s red velvet cake?


1. While it’s early days to fully understand medical nutrition therapy for Covid, we know some things about treating long Covid. This article is helpful for dietitians—I’ll refer to it myself if I work with clients who exhibit long lasting symptoms.

2. The New Yorker rounds up some holiday stories from its archive.

3. Was happy to chat about the ins and outs of coconut whipped cream for this BA article. Long live dairy-free whip!

4. Joan Didion passed away this week. This is one of many articles that reflects upon her life and work, and it concludes with what is probably my favorite quotation of hers:

I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment. And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave’s a fine and private place, but none I think do there embrace. Nor do they sing there, or write, or argue, or see the tidal bore on the Amazon, or touch their children. And that’s what there is to do and get it while you can and good luck at it.

5. On the same Thursday that I got my positive Covid test, over 44,000 New York state residents also got theirs. Crazy numbers. Stay safe, test as often as is reasonable, and take good care if you are home quarantining.

At the end of this very strange holiday, I saw a quotation from Anne Lamott,

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

I can’t think of more appropriate words to have ended my day with. I woke up this morning and cried over coffee, having a one-woman pity party in my living room about my quarantine Christmas. By midday, I was still making wise cracks about how terrible it all was.

A few hours, phone calls, FaceTimes, and messages later, everything felt different. The love I received today was grace, and I’m in a very different place because of it.

If you were isolated today, I’m sorry. You were not alone. No matter where you are and what circumstances you find yourself in tonight, I wish you peace, health, happiness, and love.




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  1. Hi Gena,
    I’m late in catching up with my blog reading, and I was shocked and saddened that you got Covid! But I’m very glad that you are on the mend and feeling much better. Be healthy!!!!

    (regular reader but only sometimes commenter….)

  2. Hi! Glad that you are feeling better. It’s great to know that you have reflected and found realization and we agree with you about Social Media, they made lockdowns, isolation and quarantine period a lot easier for us.

  3. Hello Gena, just a quick message to say (as a long-time reader and sometime commenter on your blog) that I know how tough your year has been, and I am so, so sorry to hear that it has ended this way for you. I hope that you heal quickly. Thank you for having the grace to leave your beautiful message to everyone else out there also doing it tough on Christmas Day, whether because of Covid or for other reasons. Sending love and hugs, Rebecca xo

  4. Dear Gena! oh NO! I just caught up to this today after Mike and Kelly left to try and precede the mega winter storms coming our way. I’m so very sorry! And so very relieved that you had that test and that your symptoms are manageable. I have a dear long time friend who ended up having to stay in the hospital after a few days of waiting for home health care to be arranged. She has been there over two weeks after emergency surgery from complications from an initial surpery to have some of her colong removed due to colon cancer. So two of my dearest were not where they hoped and wanted to be this Christmas. Sending you lots of healing energy and so glad for the grace of the day that left you in a different place and feeling loved by so many of us. It’s true. We love you. And I look forward to reading about your ventures back out once your quarantine is over. I send you lots of love and healing. And now to go read that first article. Big hugs and keep the faith. xoxo

  5. Wishing you a speedy recovery and a joyous return to those persons and activities you love.

    We too have had a Covid Christmas. My daughter and two year old granddaughter have been isolating with us while the little one’s dad is Covid positive and symptomatic next door. Luckily we can leave food on the porch and can do video chats. Meanwhile I mask up to do daily visits and food drops with my father who lives in a cottage at the back of our property. We’re so fortunate to have this unusual housing setup!

    Thank you for your reflections as always. I very much appreciated the quote on grace.

  6. Dear Gena,
    Now I understand why you were posting on Christmas! I am so sorry you got covid. But you were fortunate to find out before exposing your Mom! I’m so over this isolation stuff. Wishing you, and the world, a peaceful, healthy and social 2022. I appreciate your wonderful writing and willingness to share.

  7. Dear Gena, so sorry to hear that you have taken ill. Please look after yourself.

    Here in the Buffalo area, people are masking indoors again (I have never stopped, as I have an auto-immune disease)and numbers are going up. I still don’t eat in restaurants or go to movies, I haven’t rejoined my choir and don’t know when that will happen. I’m lucky to be truly comfortable staying home; but I also do less of the creative work now that I always thought I did “for ms,” so there is obviously a side of my own introversion that revels in the reflection of others, that has been revealed by two years of lockdown! We’re all still learning, but frankly, I could have been happy without the lessons and their extreme cost. Best wishes for a joyful new year.

  8. I realized I forgot to also say I’m sorry that you’re struggling with covid at the moment and that it interrupted your Christmas plans! I’m hopeful for a very different Christmas for you next year <3

  9. Merry Christmas! Thank you so much for sharing your story so eloquently on this blog for so many years (I’ve followed for over ten years now I think), as well as sharing your wonderfully nourishing food. Wanted you to know there’s another person out there in the world rooting for you and sending warm wishes to you! And thanks for the long covid link as I am a fellow dietitian! 🙂

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