This year has been a year with many things, not like the others. Not like the things in other years, the things in other weeks, or just things from the other day. Due to the pandemic, family dynamics, schedules and children that are all now grown adults, life is very different this year, so why would we not expect that Thanksgiving and Christmas this year would look different too?
If you know anything about me, you know that I am a stickler for "traditions". I have worked exceptionally hard to sprinkle all kinds of special into our kingdom. I am not saying other families do not have similar or even the same traditions or special things, and heck my ideas may not even be original or all that clever, but I have woven "special" things each year into the fabric of our lives.
For example, the birthday placemat and your favorite meal on your special day. Our thankful tablecloth that we use ever year at Thanksgiving to record who is around our 12 foot table, and what they are most thankful for that year. Which I then hand stitch to preserve the memories for years to come. I have a 15 X 15 storage locker for all things Christmas, because I love decorating the house for the Christmas season, by room and by theme.
I had always assumed, after my dwarves were grown, that my home and our traditions, would be what everyone stopped and planned for. That these traditions would be held on to with as much gusto as I had placed into creating them over the years. I am now seeing that perhaps I should have lived a little more in the moment of the years past, because it seems going forward there will need to be continual adjustments to those "original" plans.
After all the craziness of 2020, why not have a holiday season filled with different? I recognized that while I am a planner, as I get older, I like things to be the same. My dwarves, I am recognizing, however, may require somethings to be different. I would like to think that I am flexible and willing to make these changes, but I won't lie, it was hard this year to be flexible.
While I loved much of this change, there were some things that I did not really enjoy. Mostly, the feeling of it not being the same as years past. All those years ago, when I was painstakingly training myself and my dwarfs in the finer aspects of all things holiday (November through December) and weeding through the "traditions" that would stick and the ones that would fall by the wayside, never did I envision a year where we did not all come together and celebrate and share those moments, together, under one roof, as a family. Now I am realizing, that in much of what I do, I need to find the joy in doing it alone, and if any of the dwarves want to join in, extra benefit for me! Additionally, I can't be picky about the ones that are wiling and available to help. If I find that I am doing something alone, and if it causes me frustration and angst, that I need to let it go for next year. I need to make my plan, be okay with it, and if others join in all the better !
Back to this year and our different. Many of you know, the dynamics of our family and home look different this year. We have Doc and her husband local and close. Sneezy is putting in some effort to re-engage this year, with at least myself. Dopey is living out of state, but is enjoying an extended visit with us due to pandemic restrictions on his state. Happy is here and is going no where soon. Grumpy has been flying under the radar since early December. Sleepy is home for an extended season because of pandemic requirements at her out of state college. Bashful finds himself spending his days at the county jail.
As a mom to such a varied group of dwarves, I found myself in a situation this year that was less than ideal for me. Never in all the years of raising the dwarves did it occur to me that they would not be close as adults. Never did I anticipate that after years of raising such a different and diverse set of personalities in our home, that some are just over chaos and poor behaviors. Never could I have anticipated a pandemic, where those that are on the outer circle, I would have to treat cautiously due to potential contagiousness and different life styles. I realized that there was no way that we were all going to be able to be under the same roof, at the same time, for this holiday season, pandemic aside. I realized that I was going to have to be the one that was flexible, and in that realization set about attempting to make other plans, so that I could be with as many of my dwarves as I could during the Christmas season.
I have learned that even the best laid plans, in a pandemic filled world, have to be fluid. Baking with one dwarf that desired to do so, had to be set aside because of illness. (Not covid) I baked when I had time and if someone could join in, they did. What a gift for this momma's heart! As for gift exchanges, holiday meals, and gathering, again we modified and over came.
We discussed and came up with plans for blending and combining some traditions into one day. Christmas Eve, so that Christmas Day was free for new options. We zoomed our church Christmas Eve service. We added a special little three year old to our group with a sleep over and activities the night before Christmas Eve. We made a plan with family for an "open house lunch" so that we could socially distance with those that are not in our immediate bubble. We invited friends that could not get home to their family, to be with us. We made sure Bashful had much mail leading up to Christmas, even if it meant addressing and stamping the cards and handing them out to people to send to him. We made a plan in case Grumpy showed up.
We shared our traditional meals. We shredded through miles of wrapping paper. We took photos. We worshipped together. We prayed together. We laughed. We napped together. We watched movies together. They played video games together. We Face timed across the miles. We shared our favorite gifts received. The only thing we never got around to was our gingerbread houses...
It turned out to be, okay... none of these things were much like the Christmases of the past but still vaguely familiar. It is my prayer, as the albeit self appointed, Chaos Coordinator of this Season, that everyone who walked into our home over the last several days left here, with full bellies, full hearts, and the knowledge that they are loved and appreciated for who they are, for their relationship in and to our family, and that above all, the reason that we in Lingle Land celebrate the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.