Careening into the holidays

I can’t tell you the last few weeks have been easy, or tenable. On the home front, we said goodbye to Katherine and hello to Aïssata. The kids are predictably being beastly as transitions are hard! She and Flora are up to the challenge, but we welcome the moment when they don’t have to be. School online has stopped being novel, so there’s now bad tests, whining and melting off of chairs. I believe Griff subbed Sylvie’s curls in for his own at least once, intentionally or not. The screaming sprint around the house, with sprinter just out of arms’ reach? Check. Other child smugly pointing out their good behavior? Check. Kids in school in shorts and pjs with bed head? Check. Me asking board members to ignore the epic multi-hour wailing in the background? Sigh. As we wrestle with this year’s circumstances, those are just not fights we’re willing to fight. We’ll lose.

Additionally, we’re dealing with the fallout of “kids on kids” effects. Some are real, some imagined, all tough. How do we explain that they still have friends when no one is seeing anyone outside of zoom? That no one is laughing at them in class? That not responding to a friend’s email means they’ll probably not write again – not because they don’t like you, but because being pen pals is so new. To top it off, we dealt with a bullying incident in the spring we’re still following up on.

And that’s just the home front. Covid is making a lot of people we care about sick. Some have been in the hospital, some had a mild case and have moved on, and we’ve lived through the exposure scare for ourselves and others multiple times. Some close family/friends have dealt with unrelated major medical emergencies and trauma in the last few months, so we’re trying to support their recoveries as well. And even though all we want to do is fly to them so we can cook and hug and listen, we can’t. Screens aren’t the same. We’re so over this. Add in a creative season that keeps changing on me at work (requiring constant rebuilds and brand new skills and partners for everything), consulting gigs for Dave that have an unpredictable rhythm, and the pressure to keep going at all costs….we’re running on fumes.

Still, every time I decide it’s the day: I’m not getting out of bed – one of the kids or a friend will point out a silver lining that keeps us going a bit longer. Remy looked at me yesterday and said, “Aren’t we lucky that we have so many people to love? We wouldn’t miss them if we didn’t have them to begin with.” Touché, young grasshopper. And another friend pointed out just how much love has been pouring out since this all started. We may be raw, but we do seem to be communicating how much we care about each other more overtly than ever. And as tough as this is, it’s a lot harder for many others.

Obviously, for an extended family that DOES holidays, this season is looking bleak. Yet our household of 10 is big! We’re cooking the whole feast, and in honor of my mom’s amazingly gorgeous presentation I’m making a serious aesthetic effort. We even have crafts (#notmything)! As we saw with Sassy’s amazing Halloween pivot (hunt for 80s childhood costumes outdid trick or treating, according to an informal poll), we can have a fun holiday even if it’s not exactly how we want it. One. Year. We can revel in using our dining room, not be late because naps ran over, and tuck the kids in without having to leave dinner (mom, they may sleep over next year. I’m not missing a minute in 2021 at your table!).

So, sorry for whining. Chin up and all! A lot of good has come out of being home together. I may only be able to sneak in a quick shoulder squeeze between meetings, but that’s more than I can usually do. We’re cooking together, going on walks, and finally tackling those pesky piles that have been lurking in various corners for years. A lot of the pressure is resolving this week, which means we’ll have lots to celebrate. And at work, we’re creating, not cancelling. While that’s exhausting in this climate, it’s a luxury. As broke singers, we always said, “whoever can, pays.” It was a very Bohème approach, but meant no one got left out of a coffee date because they didn’t have a few bucks that week. I encourage us all to approach cheerfulness and sanity that way for the winter. If you’ve got some, spread it around. Frankly, we’re all grateful for all of you. And pie. Happy thanksgiving!