I’m feeling a double-whammy in changing traditions this year. First there’s the adapting we all have to do because of the pandemic and for us this also coincides with some growing family changes as well.
Our oldest two are college students now—they’ve been learning from home but either too busy with studies or disinterested in maintaining what I suppose could feel like childish traditions. The next two at ages fourteen and twelve sometimes willingly participate and sometimes begrudgingly. It has to do with their ages, interests and personalities: our 14-year-old hasn’t even really dressed up for Halloween in years. He just wants candy without getting creative in costuming (something his mother just does not relate to at all).
Even the parents here get a little burnt out on maintaining rituals: my husband needs a break from his over-the-top Thanksgiving weekend gingerbread creations and I got bored with our giant paper thankfulness turkey. Making an Advent Calender of Good Deeds seemed too hard with us being so limited in where we can go to be helpful.
Then there’s our 10-year-old. She and I were driving to a serve-yourself farm stand to buy pumpkins (no hayride to a pumpkin patch because COVID plus a busy family of majority disinterested-in-pumpkin-patch members). In the car she said, “Sometimes it really stinks being the youngest because nobody else wants to do holiday stuff anymore.”
Well, at least the tradition of Mom-guilt never dies.
1. When we got home that day, I helped her make an outdoor Halloween display. We have never done this and she frequently complains about how boring we are (my kids are hysterical). I know she had a giant inflatable decoration in mind, but she was pretty pleased with what we created. So was I.
2. Now that nobody ever has evening plans, I found they nights sure can pass slowly. So I've dedicated myself to having more crafty time with anyone that is interested in joining me. (In our house, that's mainly just the girls.) Where our Advent Calendar of Good Deeds would normally be displayed, we have a homemade garland hanging and in the dining room we have a little wooden Advent Calendar that we painted at home:
3. But we also have this for the first time: a Reverse Advent Calendar Food Donation Box for one of the local food pantries, so we're still doing our good deeds.
4. The paper thankfulness turkey was replaced by a pumpkin on the dining room table that we wrote on after dinner. Uh, that adaptation didn't work out so well.
5. Lastly we have the gingerbread. Nobody's heart was in it but this is one the middle boys still like participating in because SO MUCH CANDY. I suggested everyone make their own little houses and the three youngest all really wanted to do that. So I broke out our recipe and got to work. Because we are a busy family, even in limited-activity pandemic times, we've had to break it up. House pieces have been baked and are waiting for homework-free Friday night to assemble. We did decorate some of the cookies, though including a few I made for our neighbor.
"That almost says a bad word," observed the ten-year-old. Her older siblings filled her in on what FU means . . . because older kids teaching younger kids bad words is a tradition that will never change.