Holidays in the Time of COVID 19

Holidays in the Time of COVID 19

The holidays are here and 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, but most of all I just don’t have the heart for it. 

Instead of filling up on 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, talk on the phone with family and friends, 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.

And I will give thanks for this sacred time when the light of God shines down upon us all.

9 thoughts on “Holidays in the Time of COVID 19”

  • “Condemned to a life buoyed by even the tiniest bit of hope, the pain cycles on a loop, its own unique form of torture.”
    (This quote is from Azam Ahmed in his Dec. 10, 2020, New York Times article: “She Stalked Her Daughter’s Killers Across Mexico, One by One.”)

    This hit a chord for me, as I recently got a hit of hope, but the cycle of pain remains, of course. What happened to the mother in Mexico is that she was eventually killed by the cartel that kidnapped her daughter. She knew she would get killed, but her obsession with justice got the better of her, or she didn’t care anymore. A very brave and talented woman who never let go. I salute her and her love for her daughter.

    I know my analogy with estrangement is a stretch, but I cannot let the loop of pain destroy me, I must step back with objectivity and accept the distant relationship that my son’s family has defined for me. I will not let the stress kill me. I won’t rail emotionally anymore at the injustice of it. I won’t hate my son and daughter-in-law for “doing this to me.”

    When the “tiniest bit of hope” occurs, I will relish it, but not implore magical thinking to make more of it than what it is: in my case, a coincidence, a chance meeting, and an inside track to one of my grandchildren, but from a distance: I cannot reveal myself as her grandmother.

    What I know and what I believe is that I can never rupture the bond between me and my son. And he knows it, too. He is a player in his wife’s ambiguous drama. However conflicted he is about it, I am on the outer orbit until further notice.

    I think of the concept of the loop. Good image for rumination, for pain, for the effects on other family members, for the lost moments with grandchildren, laughs and insights with my son, the lost decades.

    This season, I take a pair of tiny scissors and cut each loop, as I go.

    • So amazingly written and expressed. I relate to your words and thoughts on a deep level and share your insights. Been there, done that and still find myself falling into the rabbit hole of grief at times. Each time I climb out, I vow that I will cut the cord, yet again. Thanks so much for taking the time to write about this sad dynamic. Your courage and strength is inspiring.

  • I had tried and gave away a book “Cry No More”…which is about estrangement, exercises to do..and now also a workbook to do along with the book..That book just didnt help me much. I wasnt wanting to do the exercises..just get the gist of the help me deal with being estranged by not 1 adult son, but all 3 of them..aided and abetted by an abusive ex husband..20+ years now.. My contact with any of them, is hit or miss…
    Recently, though, by chance, I came across this book Banished..having read Cry No More and followed several webpages on estrangement..I gave this book a try…Its
    The most helpful book Ive found…I recommend this to ANYONE who is facing estrangement/alienation by grown children/grandkids..and even other family members. I could write a book on this..But Nancy’s book is a welcome addition to my library.

    • Thanks for writing, Vanessa. I’m so sorry to hear of your hit and miss estrangement and alienation. I’m happy to hear that my book, “Banished – A Grandmother Alone” was helpful to you. You certainly understand long term estrangement which is, as you know, very challenging. I hope you’ll say hello from time to time and let me know how you’re doing. Stay well and grounded during these difficult times.

  • You’re not alone, Kate. Know this: You did your best as a mother, the best you knew how at that time. Please don’t beat yourself up and paint yourself as a bad parent. We’ve ALL made mistakes. because we didn’t know how to do things better. The abandonment and abuse many of us have received from our adult children is unconscionable and just plain wrong. For now, please just concentrate on your own life, your own healing and be kind to yourself.

  • Thank you, your words even though brutally honest to my existence in this world, knowing I am not the only one who lives this way. I always thought I was the only one, I must be the worst parent that my only child and grandchild never contact me that alone response to my ongoing contacts. Knowing there are others out there gives me some comfort that I cannot be that bad and maybe just maybe the children are just as fault.

      • The pain comes and goes though I am helped by your book Nancy. Hoping when the virus is less prevalent, to take a trip on Amtrack, which gives me something to look forward to.

        • Hello Patricia – thank you for writing. I’m so glad my book helped you. I think it’s wonderful that you are planning a trip on Amtrak when the time is right. I always find that traveling gives me a sense of renewal. Happy new year and may all your wishes come true

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