Yet again, during this great pandemic, there is a time to pause, reflect and reset. No global shutdowns this time, but the unavoidable passing of another year in time brings me to reflect on the preciousness of life. I usually find this time of year, with the beginning of fall and the holiday season leading into the new year as a great time for reflection. A busy time, but yet a time to try and slow the pace and reflect on what I am thankful for, a time to make more time for what I hold truly precious in my life and a time to embrace change.
Our holiday season, although different, was very special. We found ways to connect with those we love and spread some holiday cheer. No germs, just cheer. The kids and I made many holiday breads and cards that we delivered to the doorsteps of family and friends. We surprised some lucky folks and sang Christmas carols on their snow covered front yards with our masks on! We put on our Christmas pajamas and watched Uncle Joe (Mike’s younger brother is a Franciscan priest), give the Christmas Eve Mass via zoom at his church in New Hampshire. We even lit candles and sang silent night with the lights out in the living room – a favorite Christmas Eve church tradition of ours. We had lots of zoom gatherings with family and friends. We spent time baking and making some special holiday meals together. Though we weren’t able to gather in person with our extended family, the time we took to connect, even if it was over zoom, felt all the more special and significant because our surroundings were less busy and we were able to spend quality time together in a very different way. Most often after a busy holiday gathering I feel exhausted and that I didn’t have enough time to visit with everyone. Strangely enough, I felt this holiday season we were all able to connect with so many loved ones in a really meaningful way. Kind of ironic, but I’ll take it!
2020 has not been easy and unfortunately, the hardships faced will not simply go away with the changing of the year, but we are getting there and I have hope. We are resilient by nature and finding ways to adapt to change and create new, beautiful memories amongst these trying times will help us all persevere and appreciate the simple gifts of life.
Hope is contagious and having it gives you the ability to face all things great and small.
As we prepared to celebrate 2021, the kids and I did something we do this time every year, we worked on our New Year Reflections and Resolutions. We write about things we’ve learned over the past year, new interests and challenges, something special that we did and we also write about what we’d like to learn in the new year; topics we’d like to explore, books we’d like to read, something new that we’d like to teach ourselves, somethings that we might like to change and do different, we set goals.
This years reflections were a bit different, and maybe you’ll find this true in your life too. We faced a lot of different challenges, a lot more has changed than usual and we did a lot more reflecting on how we want to live our lives and spend our time in the new year. Surprisingly, amongst the craziness of these times, the kids reflections were positive. My oldest two daughters have done a lot of soul searching for kids their age (11 & 9) and have been spending more time doing things that really fulfill them and exploring interests that we didn’t have time for during our normal homeschool days. There are things they look forward to returning to when the time allows and there are other things and even friendships that they realize weren’t fulfilling to them and feel more empowered to move past. They have also given more time toward nurturing and strengthening the relationships in their lives that they cherish, with each other, grandparents and close friends. All of the kids said they enjoy being less busy and having more down time at home and even enjoy spending more time together than we usually do! They miss traveling and seeing family and friends, but their resolutions were full of hope. They look forward to what the year ahead will bring and as children always have the gift of doing, they bring their joy and love of life to the present and to the future. As I looked up from my own resolutions scrawled on the paper in front of me; to worry less, to sleep more, to read more, to re-learn 6th grade math so I can teach it to Ava!…. staring at me from across the table sat my four simple joys of life – full of love, full of joy, full of hope. Looking at their sweet faces I knew, if they could make sacrifices, if they could find the good during hard times and if they could believe in the joys of tomorrow, than how could I not have hope. It’s a powerful thing, pass it on – our children, our societies and our world need it, now more than ever.
Praying you are all safe, loved and full of hope this New Year!