My kids, just like many of yours, are wanting the holidays to be “normal”. That usually means a really loud house with lots of people. For me, one of my favorite traditions growing up was washing the dishes. Go with me here – we would pack into the kitchen after a huge meal and each have a job washing, drying, and putting away my Grandmother’s dishes (or popping one another with the dish towels). Once my Grandmother got older, we would make her go sit in her living room chair to rest since she would insist on still making tons of the food. From her chair, she could tell what dish we were drying just from the clanking and tell us, “Emily, that gravy bowl goes in the top-left shelf, all the way to the side, under the platter – the red one, not the green one – no, not that shelf, the other one”. How did she know that? It was amazing. So, I missed washing dishes this year at Thanksgiving (the only time I cried on Thanksgiving day was washing my grandmother’s dishes that I still use – it’s ok to cry and hope, remember that post? https://tinyurl.com/yyrqootl) and I will miss that again at Christmas.
My kids understand (and have understood from the beginning of the pandemic) that ‘loving our neighbors’ means we stay home, wear a mask, and do our part to help. They still understand that, which hasn’t always been easy this year, but Christmas has been harder. This year, I talked about it with them and hugged them when they cried. Then, I showed them a few pictures and videos to reframe why we are home at Christmas and how this won’t be forever. It was helpful to them and I thought it might be helpful to you and your families too.
✅ PICTURE 1 – I showed them the curve of cases and hospitalizations. They have seen this before, so it’s not new to them. This helped them see that lots of people are really sick this Christmas, some are in the hospital, and some families have had to say good-bye. We also talked about hospitals being overwhelmed, and how staying home is our part of helping our front-line family members and friends who are healthcare workers and neighbors in our town.
✅ PICTURE 2 – My kids had asked this week about Santa – will he (and Mrs. Claus) be ok? What about the elves? Do you think they still want cookies (always, buddy!). And the most important question to kids – what about my presents? 😊 So, we watched this video with Elmo, Santa, and Dr. Fauci. hashtag dreamteamforchristmas 😊 Phew, Santa is ok to come! Go check out this video for the fun highlights with Sesame Street. All of the videos are really cute! – https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/19/us/sesame-street-cnn-town-hall-holiday-coronavirus-trnd/index.html
✅ PICTURE 3, 4, and 5 – I also showed them the pictures (the link for Picture 3 has a cool video) of the vaccine distribution warehouse and the planes and trucks transporting the vaccines. We talked about how incredible it must feel to transport these life-saving vaccines all over the country – and, that many of these pilots, drivers, warehouse workers, and logistical personnel needed to orchestrate all of this have families too. These pictures helped my kids see that everyone can play a role in beating the pandemic. (BTW, some of my favorite comments to read are ones from the pilots and drivers. Thank you for doing your part in ending this pandemic!) I then showed them pictures of some of their friend’s parents who received their vaccines this week since they are front-line workers in our hospitals. I told them this is just the start of who will get the vaccine and 2021 will look much different.
✅ PICTURE 6 – I then asked what they are looking forward to in 2021 when things are better. One kid said tacos. ha! We just had tacos last night – oh well, he’s always hungry. The other said family (that’s my dad and son in the picture). Same, sis’, same. We then talked about wanting to make sure our families are ok when we see them in person next year – because there will be lots of hugs all around when we see them. 😊 And, Christmas 2021 will be one big ol’ celebration that will mean more to us because of Christmas 2020 being simpler.
✅ I hope you all stay safe and healthy this holiday. Remember to wear your masks and distance (if you feel like you’re overexaggerating by not going certain places, you’re doing the right thing – there’s still time to decide to stay home too – with this surge, that choice is definitely not an over-exaggeration and the choice I am hearing from my friends in the hospitals). Remember this won’t be forever. Happy holidays, FNE community! I’m thankful for you. Now I’m off to go decorate sugar cookies with my kids and get out my Grandmother’s red dishes for dinner. The one from the top-left shelf.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
***If you’ve sent me a message, I’m working my way through those. It might take me a while but I am trying to read them and the comments. 😊 For those in the Christian faith community, I wrote about reframing the Christmas season in light of the pandemic here – https://tinyurl.com/y9e9y56c
Picture 5 – A FedEx truck loaded with boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine leaves the distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Dec. 20. (Paul Sancya, Pool/Associated Press)