Things Will Be Different This Year
by Erica Vetsch
Are you struggling with things being ‘different’ this holiday season?
Yeah, me too.
You have to admit, this has been a weird, unpredictable year of ‘firsts.’ Firsts like mask mandates, distance learning, mandatory work-from-home orders. Travel plans have been canceled, graduations celebrated remotely, and a general sense of ‘what will happen next?’ has hovered over our lives for months.
While there have been a lot of tough adjustments in 2020, not all the ‘firsts’ have been negative for our family. This summer, we celebrated the marriage of our daughter, the first of our children to wed. We have our first son-in-law. (Our only son-in-law, to be fair, since we only have the one daughter.) It was a lovely ceremony, and we are so happy for the newlyweds.
But now I’m facing another ‘first.’ Another way 2020 will be different. We’re coming up on the first major holiday since the wedding, and for the first time in our daughter’s life, we will be apart on Thanksgiving Day. Our daughter and son-in-law have chosen to spend Thanksgiving with his parents in South Dakota.
I know that this is right and good. The newlyweds are establishing their own family…they are ‘leaving and cleaving’ just the way they are supposed to be doing. They will have a lovely time in South Dakota, making memories with his family. I am happy for them, and I know this is a good choice they are making.
But there is no doubt that my home during this holiday will look different than it has in the past. I have hosted the Vetsch Family Thanksgiving dinner for many, many years. Everyone knows what to bring, who is going to be there, what the day will look like.
We call those things our Thanksgiving Traditions. I’m a big fan of traditions, and I’m not a big fan of change. We’ve all had a lot of change this year, and adding one more will require some mental, emotional, and spiritual fortitude. Due to the pandemic, some family members who have celebrated Thanksgiving Day with us for more than a decade will not be able to attend. Due to the new marriage, the kids will be spending the holiday away from us. At the moment, my usually full dining room table has reservations for just four.
So how can I keep from being melancholy and regretful on a day meant to focus on gratitude?
- Pray. Tell God how I am feeling about it all. Often pouring out my feelings to the One who loves me immeasurably helps me work through those feelings and put my situation into the proper perspective.
- Keep up the traditions. Even though our group will be the smallest it has been in years, we’ll still eat off the fancy dishes, we’ll still have the traditional foods on the table, we’ll still laugh and talk and fellowship, we’ll still watch football. We’ll do those things that add to the good memories I have of all those past holidays.
- Communicate. In this era of technology, we have the capability to call, video chat, instant message, text, and connect with our loved ones in ways that are unprecedented in history. Though we may be separated by many miles, it is important to communicate that our loved ones are present in our thoughts and hearts.
- The Attitude of Gratitude. Rather than dwell on what I don’t have, I will celebrate what I do. It’s time to be thankful. Thankful for the happy young couple starting their lives together. Thankful for having food on the table, for a house to live in, for the way God has worked and continues to work in our lives.
- Be Others-Centric. I will focus on making the day special for others. I’ll be looking to see who I can serve, and how I can use our home and resources to bless someone else during the holidays. By turning my focus outward, I have less time to wallow and feel sorry for myself.
It can be easy to dwell on the negatives of this past year, how things are different from what we wanted, the ‘firsts’ we would all have rather avoided, and yet, we’re entering a time of year that traditionally has been one of celebration. With a shift in our focus, taking our eyes off what we have been asked to forfeit or change and concentrating on our blessings and the needs of others, perhaps this can be a year of positive ‘firsts’ and differences in our holiday celebrations, too.
Erica Vetsch is the bestselling, award winning author of more than forty published works, including her latest novella, “Wonders of His Love,” part of the Joy to the World Regency Christmas collection. She’s a wife, mother, bookkeeper, bookworm, sports addict, and avid museum patron. When she’s not writing books or cheering on her favorite sports team, she’s planning her next visit to a historic site. You can find her on the web at www.ericavetsch.com where you can sign up for her quarterly-ish newsletter, and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/erica.vetsch where she spends way too much time!
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