Growing Pains: Holiday Hurricane

I am a notorious pessimist. Sometimes I think this comes from a childhood of watching Saints games where they seemed certain to win only to blow it at the last second, but honestly, it’s probably just deeply ingrained in my personality.

I assume every hurricane is coming for us. I assume every twinge is cancer. Whenever my phone rings, I assume it’s bad news.

When I lost my first pregnancy early in the second trimester, after seeing a heartbeat and being told that my chances of miscarriage were less than 2 percent, I learned something else, though – assuming the worst doesn’t actually shield you from the pain when it happens. I wasn’t really shocked when I went in for an ultrasound and learned there was no heartbeat … after all, I’d been extremely cautious about telling anyone and always added the caveat, “But it’s still so early, so don’t get excited yet.” What I was, though, was devastated.

That’s kind of where I am on the pandemic now … I am depressed at the current state of things while not surprised that it’s still going on.

“We’re looking at another year of this,” I told my husband bleakly in early May.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “That’s insane.”

And yet. Here we are, with many months to go.

Knowing it was coming didn’t make me any happier about it, but by now, I’ve made my peace with how different the holiday season will look for us this year.

When I realized Georgia’s birthday would have to be “COVID-ized,” I actually shed a few tears. I love doing birthday parties for my kids – themes, invitations, favors, the perfect cake! And I feared she would be disappointed at the lack of presents that normally accompany her big class parties.

But when the day rolled around, it was actually perfect. We got balloons and party supplies delivered, I made her favorite dessert (not cake but lemon icebox pie), and our immediate family came over for a socially distant and masked visit in our front yard. Georgia had “the best day ever.”

The same thing happened on Halloween: I dreaded it for weeks. Could we safely trick-or-treat? Would my kids have fun? How bummed would they be about the lack of class parties and general revelry? I worked myself up into a tizzy … and in the end, we trick-or-treated in a neighborhood we knew wouldn’t be crowded, and everyone we saw was masked up. There were some cool systems for “socially distant candy delivery” that my younger kid thought were hilarious, and my older kid ended up having a “Google Meet” virtual costume party and sleepover with her two best friends. I supplemented their plastic pumpkins with some of their favorite candy … and they both decided it was the best Halloween ever.

So I’m feeling, oddly, optimistic about Christmas. It will be different, for sure, than our usual traditions of church and caroling and so many parties … but if we’re learning anything in all of this, it’s that smaller and scaled-down events sometimes make you realize how nice things can be when they’re boiled down to their essence.

I wish you and yours a lovely holiday season … and PLEASE let 2021 be better for all of us!

I’m still not an optimist, but sometimes, you’ve just got to have hope.

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