Change Is Good: Enjoying Easter From Afar
O ne of my favorite parts of any holiday is enjoying how those I love are celebrating via their social media. This past year, I’ve seen my share of posts lamenting the difficulty in being separated from extended family and missing cherished traditions. But I’ve also seen posts praising the simple celebration. Posts featuring photos of smiling immediate families of three, four, or five snuggling under the Christmas tree, or gathered around a (small!) turkey at the kitchen table where they eat most meals. Posts giving gratitude for the opportunity to have a holiday that is less about pomp and circumstance and more about being present with one another.
What separates those who have lost something during this year of new traditions and celebrations from those who have gained? Here is some insight from families* who have found the silver lining in the socially distant cloud.
Appreciate Being Together However You Can
The Harper Family
When the Harper family’s son Connor (24) decided not to fly home to Westminster from Arizona for Christmas last year, his parents and sister were disappointed but overall understanding. His mother Suzanne shipped his wrapped gifts to him in early December and Christmas morning, Connor joined the family via Zoom to lounge around the fire in their separate homes across the nation to enjoy opening gifts together.
“It was hard not to have him home but I know it would have been harder to not be able to see him or how he was spending his holiday,” Suzanne says. “Thanks to technology, our family was able to spend Christmas morning with one another even if it was virtual.”
As an added bonus, Connor didn’t lose additional vacation days to travel. He was able to take only Christmas Day off and he plans to use the extra time for an extended summer visit home once it’s safer to travel.
(If you find yourself suffering from Zoom fatigue, there are MANY ways to connect virtually with friends and family – this article is a great resource for all options!)
An Opportunity To Change Tradition
The Tomm Family
The Tomm’s extended family lives several states and many hours away. For years on the minor holidays, Thanksgiving and Easter, Maggie and her husband Chris hosted family friends instead of making the trip with young children.
As their children have gotten older, it’s been much easier for the Tomms to travel long miles for short stays. Visits to extended family even for minor holidays were much more feasible. However, due to sense of obligation to the tradition and the family friends they shared it with, they’ve continued to host even though they would rather spend the holiday in a different way.
“We knew we needed a change in how we celebrated,” says Maggie. “But we couldn’t figure out how to do it without hurting anyone or dishonoring the years where the celebration with these people served us well. I was grateful when Easter of 2020 rolled around… our friends reached out to us to let us know they wouldn’t be joining us due to the recent restrictions. It was a perfect opportunity to set a new holiday precedent with no one to blame.”
It’s About Priorities
The Slitz Family
Sarah Slitz is a recessive carrier of a degenerative kidney disease that has impacted her sons Michael (24) and Jacob (21). Both boys needed a kidney transplant at the age of 18, and, as most transplant recipients, will be on heavy immune suppressing medications for the unforeseen future.
Due to this, Sarah and her husband Mark were forced to be extra cautious with their family’s exposure in 2020-2021. Although they are both extremely close to their extended families, they realized it was best to remain distant until it was safe to once again all be together.
While it was difficult to spend holidays in a different way than what they are used to, Sarah added that “It’s so worth it. The health of my children is everything. When it comes to keeping them safe, nothing else matters.”
The extra time of quarantine also allowed the Slitz to finally turn their first level multi-purpose room into the formal dining room it was always intended to be. In November, their family of five enjoyed their first Thanksgiving at home in a dining room that extra time had built.
Our Marriage Needed This
The Santos Family
“Holidays were always so hard on my marriage,” says Angela Santos. “I didn’t have a good relationship with my mother in law and for days leading up to whatever holiday we were scheduled to spend with that side of the family, I’d be consumed with anxiety over what she would say and what the resulting argument with my husband would be.”
Last year, the Santos celebrated the holidays without any extended family and “For the first time, I was able to enjoy a holiday and demonstrate to my husband that my attitude wasn’t holiday stress… it was his mother stress!” says Angela. “It was really an eye-opening moment for my husband and for our relationship. We may go back to celebrating with that side of the family eventually, but I know that things will never be as bad they were which is a huge blessing for us.”
(For more tips on managing stress within your marriage during the holiday season, check out this article on balancing the needs of your immediate family with those of your extended family.)
As you prepare for whatever plans this Easter celebration has in store for you and your family, let these words of encouragement from the other side remind you that different doesn’t always mean worse. In many cases, different is just the change we need.
*while all above details are true, names may have been changed to protect privacy
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