Despite the COVID pandemic, my Thanksgiving this year was downright crowded I mused. The day included Oliver, Willie, Mac (my cats) and me, myself, and I. That got my count to my second hand at least. Big sigh. Lucky for me, I have had years – 10 to be exact – practicing solo traditions and holidays. For many of you, this was your first year feeling the sting of a family tradition jarringly altered as families chose to avoid travel, decline big gatherings indoors, and to keep risk of exposure out of our homes.
If you felt the ache of longing for a loved one, or the sadness of an empty place setting, you now hold insight into the experience that occurs around the calendar for divorced parents. Inevitably one parent wakes on Christmas morning without the pitter patter of their children’s feet running to their room to rouse them for the wonders left behind by Santa. During Hanukkah one parent lights the menorah, says a blessing and recalls the story of Hanukkah in silent reflection without children arguing over whose turn it is to light the candle and to see delight as a carefully chosen gift is opened after.
This year I released my fury of frustration on my holiday house. I spent hours decking all of the halls, and shelves, and walls, and windows, and every space between. In pouring my heart into my home, I released my energy into that which could and would bring me joy. Without any intentionality around it, I had shifted my focus away from my sadness toward gladness as I lined up my favorite nutcrackers in a spot I would see often in the next 30 days.
I crafted my coziest space to ensure comfort on the days I will not be able to host my annual luminary party, that I will miss sharing my dad’s 74th birthday with him in person and the 44th birthdays of my twin siblings just a week after, that 3 days later on Christmas I will say goodbye to my girls as their dad takes them to Arizona. After all of these years of practice, I instinctively now know what I will need during this year of holidays during a pandemic.
This year you may want to consider the following:
- What are your intentions this holiday season?
To be joyful? To be reflective? To be relaxed?
- What do you have control over that will support your holiday intentions?
Your environment? Your time? Your zoom outfit and background?
- What will you do with your time that would otherwise have been spent in a frenzied holiday planning and preparing mode?
Sitting in front of the fire? Watching a favorite holiday movie? Baking cookies and exercising more patience than ever as your children “decorate” them?
There will likely be a sense of loss and difference this year during December. But you do have choices about how and when to grieve them and how and when to replace and refocus your energy into a more meaningful holiday season. From my holiday house to yours, I wish you peace, rest, reflection, and gratitude in this slowed down December ahead.