A few weeks before Halloween, my seven year-old son and I were reading books before bed when he looked up at me and said, “Mommy…can Christmas be cancelled?”
In that moment my heart sank because I knew how much he’d realized that everything has been different this year. He left school for spring break and never got to go back. We didn’t spend Easter with our extended family like we usually do. We didn’t get to go to the zoo or the aviation museum or any of the other places he loves to go for a long time. I talked to him about how Christmas isn’t something that can be cancelled even though certain things may be different.
“But what if Santa gets the coronavirus?”
Another blow to my momma heart. As adults we have our own worries with this pandemic but to see what is on our children’s minds was heartbreaking. The worry in his eyes was unlike anything I’ve seen in him before. It was heavy. My son is old enough to understand that we’re doing things to keep everyone healthy but not quite old enough to grasp the ramifications of all of this. He sees that things are being cancelled or gone or taken away. How could this not enter his mind? In this house we are all Christmas obsessed but he really basks in the joy of all things Christmas. We’re all feeling it in one way or another, this pandemic fatigue. I hate how much has changed but I hate it even more because of the worry it’s causing all of our kids. They shouldn’t have to worry about these kinds of things. But they are because they are being affected in ways that I can’t fathom having to have dealt with when I was a child. On any given day our grieving process could start all over again.
But I’m going to do what I do every year. I’m going to bring the joy to holidays like nobody’s business. Our house is looking like Buddy the Elf’s holiday spirit. Our decorations are up and the tree stands proudly in our living room covered in our favorite ornaments. You better believe that we are singing these Christmas songs the day after Halloween. According to Buddy, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear” and we are singing every song that comes on our Alexa. We blast the Christmas music on the radio every time we get in the car.
We’re going to celebrate Christmas with all of our familiar traditions. Clark Griswold would be jealous of our fun old-fashioned family Christmas that we are going to have. With the fear of contributing to the spread of COVID-19, we’re going to forgo the large gatherings with extended family and instead have more time with our little family of five. We get to experience how time and presence is better than any present we could receive.
If there’s one thing I can give my kids right now, I want it to be joy and normalcy. I want them to look back and remember that even though things were different and seemed sad and unfair, their parents taught them how to pivot. I want them to learn how to have grit and determination. I want them to know that when things get difficult, we carry on and do the best we can. We don’t throw fits when things don’t go our way. We pivot and adjust, however that might be. As parents this pandemic is giving us a chance to teach our kids some serious quality character traits. For that I am thankful. However, for this Christmas season, we will continue to create a home of comfort and joy. A safe place to be when it seems as if the world outside is crumbling.
Now, back to my son’s question about Santa getting COVID-19. I was able to grieve my feelings for a minute and give him an answer that comforted him and brought hope and joy to his heart. I told him that Santa is magical and he can’t get sick! The elves, the reindeer and Mrs. Claus too!
Maybe that seems lame, but in that moment, I was able to see that spark of holiday magic and I want him to hold onto that magical feeling around Christmas for as long as possible.