At the end of a regional meeting I attended last week about improving partnerships between higher education and P-12 schools, the facilitator allowed each participant the chance to have any final words. Several of the participants used their time to say something to the extent of, “What I enjoyed best about this meeting was the chance to talk about my pre-COVID work again. I miss this.”
I don’t know about you, but it certainly feels to me like I’m missing the good ol’ days of working on the important work of educating kids five days a week in person without masks. Maybe it was with that on my mind that I drafted my Lyon’s Letter for this week over the weekend. In thinking about that letter (which is not about COVID) I was lying in bed on Sunday thinking about the revisions I wanted to make to the letter. I started working on those revisions on Tuesday and realized that my revisions were so lengthy, that I really had two letters, not one. I like it when that happens because I like having some letters ready to go—it’s like the opposite of writer’s block.
Here’s my problem, those letters are not about COVID. They’re also not about the holidays. So, rather than feeling like they are a welcome return to a by-gone era, they feel like they are tone deaf to what people are thinking and feeling in December 2020. I believe that people are sincerely “over COVID.” I don’t know what that’s called exactly…maybe spent? Exhausted? Beyond ready for a change? Stir-crazy? Whatever you call it, you’re in the minority if you don’t know the feeling. Further, this time of year, which is usually filled with such joy and tradition, feels like an insult to injury because plans have to change and traditions need to be put on hold.
As you may know, last year was my first year of not giving my kids presents. It goes without saying that my kids have no unmet needs, but they also have no unmet wants. They get what they need and what they want when the need or want arises. Thus, for the holidays we were buying them things just to have things for them to open. It was a tradition of the worst kind. Rather than continuing down that path, I decided to gift my kids with experiences and memories. The new tradition starting last year was that we would travel for the holidays (I learned last year that I don’t want to travel during the holidays because it denies us the chance to be with our extended family and it’s more expensive—so we can travel for the holidays at another point in the year as our gift to each other). Nevertheless, we had a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii and returned to NY on December 31st. That was the last time I was outside of NY. With no end to COVID in sight, we haven’t even discussed where we might go when we’re finally able to travel again since we have no idea when that will be. With no end to COVID in sight, we are trying to figure out if there is a safe way to spend time with our family since we wanted to spend the holidays with them but we do not want anyone to get sick.
My complaints are the complaints of the fortunate. How lucky am I that if things were going well, I’d be able to plan a beautiful trip and spend time with my immediate family? How lucky am I that I have immediate and extended family I want to spend time with? How lucky am I that my concern is about not wanting to have my family get sick (rather than being concerned because I have a sick family member). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if we have learned nothing else from this experience, it’s that the only things that really matter are our health and our relationships with others.
I promise, this too shall pass. In fact, it looks and sounds like a vaccine is just a few months away. We will get through this, we will return to our traditions, and we will have other things to talk about. As we wait for that day to come, do not forget to appreciate the day that you have today.
P.S. This week, I've asked Jenn Borgioli Binis, freelance editor and researcher and president of Schoolmarm Advisors for a Catch of the week. She caught the latest episode of the podcast "Have You Heard" which is a conversation about the increased tensions when parents get a close up look at history and social studies class through Zoom. The hosts of the podcasts recently wrote an Op Ed in the NY Times here that provides useful context for the end of Betsy DeVos tenure.
P.P.S. Please remember to...
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