I liked this article (posted in comments). It’s short but the TLDR is – don’t try to fill every gap the pandemic has created this holiday for your family. We can allow this “white space”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about holidays and how to adapt to the gulf between expectations, tradition and the reality of this year. My mom died shortly before Christmas and that year we packed up the car and drove away to the woods, just the five of us, to a little cabin in the snow for the holiday. And the year wasn’t done with us either, we got a call on Christmas that my sister’s father in law died suddenly and unexpectedly. It felt like a lot. It felt like too much. And yet, we all had little kids for which we felt compelled to make “Christmas magic” happen.
What do I remember from that holiday? I remember panicking that I hadn’t thought about a Christmas tree and how on earth do you have Christmas without a tree and none was to be found in the little area we were staying. So Alice constructed one out of colored pencil, pastel and paper. We carefully set it up on a coffee table and Santa put presents arounds it. I think in many ways, that was my favorite Christmas tree we ever had. I also remember taking a nap on Christmas day, tired in that deep down way when you feel like you are literally falling as you go to sleep. And waking up and just watching snow fall out the window for so long. Just allowing for quiet, rest, and peace after a terribly hard and sad season.
We adapt when we have to. If this year has shown us nothing, it has shown us that. But I would just put one spin on this article that the white space that is created when tradition and expectation can’t be met can surprise us as well. It’s not only about trying not to fill that space and confronting or allowing for its emptiness, but also that if you allow that space, you may be surprised by the things that DO fill it. I’m not suggesting that in some grand ledger book this will all balance out, this isn’t a bright side message. It is a hard year and while we adapt and allow space, we also grieve. That grief is real and I also think there is some cumulative effect of the year we are all confronting. It is not easy. I certainly felt all of that, for different reasons, that Christmas so many years ago. AND I have memories and strange traditions that arose that year that I will always treasure (we had many more snowy Christmases with creative Christmas trees).
So here’s wishing for some unexpected peace and new traditions for all of us as we navigate a holiday like no other. ❤️