One of the things we will all remember about 2020 are the holidays. When we look back at all of the Mother’s Day celebrations we have had in our lives, it is not always easy to remember which one happened in 2006 versus 2010, for example. But whatever we did for Mother’s Day in 2020 will stand out as unique and memorable in our lives. Whatever else has been said about 2020, this is an indelible year.
When we were able to gather outside at social distances we did – BYO picnics to what used to be a family BBQ; or pre-plated s’mores-fixings at fire pits, instead of all those hands digging into one ripped bag. I live in the Northeast where Spring and Fall holidays are typically inside events. This year they were commemorated via Zoom, House Party, Power Point, webinar, You Tube, and good-old-fashioned cards sent via USPS.
As we near the end of this (hopefully?!) unique year, we are all performing mental calculations about what we are willing to sacrifice, what we must forego, and what we must preserve for the last round of holidays this year. Some of our annual traditions have been re-made: instead of going to a Chinese Restaurant for December 24th; we are starting to gather recipes for our favorite Chinese foods. Some are being postponed this year: the annual big sleepover at my cousins’ house. But some we will find a way to preserve, no matter what: annual pajama day, for one.
It was with these concerns in the background that I sat recently with a couple as they mediated their divorce agreement. Their children are 6-year-old twins. 10 months of lock-down is a much bigger percentage of those kids’ lives than it is of their 40+ year old parents. And, to their unending credit these parents have done everything in their power to give their kids a happy care-free year. Even as the father’s business was shut down for months and has had inconsistent information about reopening. The mother works in the healthcare industry and has had to test and quarantine and comfort families through unimaginable loss. The parties separated before the pandemic began and have had to coordinate with each other almost every day to make sure that the kids are getting their educational needs met. Oh, not to mention, plus just plain parenting. It has been an ongoing adventure.
When the Mom first asked about Thanksgiving. They were each hesitant to say their next thought, but they both had the same idea: the 4 of them together in the family home. A quick discussion about logistics and then they rolled right into Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s. I just sat and witnessed what was likely how they have always functioned at their best. Brainstorming ideas to make the kids’ have a great holiday season. Juggling schedules, connecting on budgets, getting excited about decorations. For that moment they forgot the forces that are driving them apart and were able to have a truly heart-warming image of what two separated parents can do to preserve this Christmas for their kids.
We hear it and say it all the time. What makes these occasions special is not what we get, but how we spend the time.
Divorce or no divorce – I wish you all a peaceful end to this challenging year.