As we enter into the holiday season of 2020, I wanted to take some time to reflect on lessons learned and think about how I could use those lessons to finish out the year strong. This year has been filled with so many unexpected events and hard decisions; I need to adjust my mindset. Our bodies and brains are fatigued and we all are longing for good news and fun. We want to enjoy our holidays and experience those things that we look forward to all year long. All of our lives have been significantly altered in some ways this year and more change is certain to come.
I don’t want to spend these next few months bemoaning the things I don’t like and can’t control. We get one holiday season a year and I want to make the most of it.
As we embark upon the last three months, this is my mindset:
Life is precious. Our life and our neighbor’s life too.
Just because something does not affect our family, doesn’t mean it’s not bad, scary, or harmful for others. The world is a big giant place with billions of people in a variety of circumstances. The way things affect my family won’t necessarily affect the next family in the same way. My family values the idea that we are to love others as we love ourselves. I don’t want to be sick, hungry, or homeless, so I need to care about and do what I can to help my neighbor who might find themselves in those situations. Maybe that’s supporting a charity, being an activist for a cause, or helping a mom at your child’s school. The holiday season will be ripe with opportunities to help those around us. Let’s make space in our lives, not only for our family’s concerns but for the concerns of others.
We will not get to do it all this year – and that’s ok.
We teach our kids this concept all the time: You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Now is a good time to model this for them. They are watching how we respond to things that are out of our control. Annual fall festival canceled? That stinks. Let’s create our own carnival at home! Family votes to avoid the big Thanksgiving gathering this year? Bummer. I sure am going to miss my uncle’s famous collard greens. Maybe we can all prepare our traditional dishes and arrange a time to do a Thanksgiving dinner drive-thru for the family! Adaptability is the quality of being able to adjust to new conditions. It’s a life skill that will benefit our kids as they progress through school and enter the workforce. Now is a great time to help them develop this.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” –Mary Englebreit
I remember last spring when we were all at home for months. It was a little fun at first, getting an extended Spring Break and spending a lot of uninterrupted, quality time with the family. But as things became more uncertain, my worries about the future made daily life stressful and those feelings of fun morphed into anxiety about what would happen in 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years. Before I knew it, we were all back in our normal routines, but still in the middle of a pandemic. At times, I desperately long for the safe, relatively carefree days of quarantine.
In so many ways, thinking too far ahead into the future is not helpful. The things I worried about last winter, in preparation for spring and summer (where we would vacation, our pool membership, summer camps) – none of those things even got to happen. The weeks I spent prepping and planning for those activities was productive, but the anxiety and stress that came with it (finding the perfect vacation spot, paying the pool fee on time, choosing the just-right summer camp) perhaps I obsessed about it so much that I missed an opportunity to be present – to watch a show with my spouse or take a walk with my kids. I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t live so much in the future that we fail to enjoy the present.
Many things won’t be the same this year, and that’s tough. As I adjust my mindset for the holidays, my goal for my family is to focus on the areas we can control and let go of the areas we cannot. Love on your family and decide to enjoy these holiday months as best as you can. Mamas are the strongest people on the planet! Let’s do this for ourselves, our families, and our communities!