Holidays in the Time of Pandemic
As the holidays approach, many of us are trying desperately to hold on to and honor our traditions. We’re planning socially distanced get togethers, keeping the number of guests small, requiring masks when not eating or drinking. We hope to make lovely memories, despite the reality of a deadly virus stalking us and changing how we go about our daily lives. But, approaching the holidays in this manner, trying to do as we have always done (in many cases) isn’t a good idea.
In the face of the myriad challenges we are all facing, we’re desperate for normalcy, familiarity, pleasure, and safety. We’re holding on for dear life. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that we cannot hold onto that which will not be held. Life is a constant stream of change, always moving forward, offering different experiences along the way, but devoid of security, guarantees, or exceptions to the rules. There is a natural course that if we could learn to relax and let it carry us forward instead of fighting against it, we might enjoy the trip and achieve harmony and balance.
Dealing with my family estrangement and being left alone as I age, I understand what it’s like to hold on for dear life. I’ve been there, got the t-shirt. I also understand that it doesn’t work. Going against the flow only deepens the raw wounds by not allowing the light in to heal them.
Many parents and grandparents still reminisce about their kid’s childhood, referring to them as, “my boy,” or “my little girl,” or even “my baby.” They talk about past camping trips, joyful holidays, family trips, etc. They sigh and say “We were so close.” I understand, I really do. But it does no good to hold on with white knuckles to memories that are over and done. The kids are grown, living their lives, without us parents and grandparents. We are holding on too desperately, too stubbornly. It’s wonderful to have had such great times with our kids when they were still with us, but now let’s embrace the present moment. Cherish the memories, lovingly and gratefully, and stop waiting for our kids to have an epiphany and take responsibility for their actions. Relax and float with the current in the ever-changing river of life.
The holidays are always tough for estranged parents and grandparents. This year, after so many months of being alone, socially isolated and concerned for our health, we have one heck of a challenge. Personally, I will be alone on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have no family nearby but I do have friends who have kindly invited me to join them. I have politely declined as I’m concerned about the virus (I have asthma), but most of all I just don’t have the heart for it.
Instead of filling my stomach with delicious holiday fare, I will warm myself by drinking from my own cup, which overflows with grace, love, and goodness. I will nourish my soul with the presence of my dog, my lake, my sky, my clouds, my many feathered friends. I will play music, walk the beach and delight in the conversations of seagulls. I will draw deep breaths and feel the salt air expanding my lungs and soothing my socially-distanced heart.