The water sign, Scorpio, is sentimental, change averse and despises feeling out of control.
I am a Scorpio.
To a T.
So, when the pandemic impacted our traditional Easter gathering back in March, I may have gritted my teeth, but also knew we could manage. I declared the menu would remain the same, we would just recreate it ourselves and not travel our usual two hours to visit family. We could do it. Even if it was just Parsons Party of Four.
Bring on the ham and deviled eggs.
Then weeks turned into months. Vacations and flights were canceled. Fourth of July was scaled back with no firework displays in sight. Pumpkins were purchased in grocery store parking lots instead of off the vine. Now, I was beginning to panic.
I talked myself down during Halloween, which felt the most uninterrupted. My kids still dressed up—and masked up—and participated in our neighborhood Trick-or-Treat (bring on the Reese’s). Neighbors got creative with candy distribution and helped make the holiday safe, yet memorable, which boosted my hope for the upcoming months.
In early November, COVID cases were massively spiking and the heavy holiday hitters were around the corner. When we canceled our Thanksgiving plans, I fought every Scorpio urge to dramatically fall to my knees, shaking my fist at the heavens. Blame it on my astrological sign or the fact that we don’t live near family, but I am steadfast in tradition. Packing the minivan to the brim to visit all the aunts, uncles and cousins adds complexity, but it’s always been worth it for my kids to experience the holidays the way I was able to. We would spend days bouncing from one relative’s home to another and while it was exhausting, we’d always return home smiling, new memories in tow.
I recognize we’re lucky. Our holidays have always been full of boisterous laughter.
And homemade apple pie.
And reminiscing with hometown friends.
And so many people crammed into a house someone inevitably cracks a window.
And horribly off-key sing-a-longs.
And Italian goodbyes (it’s a thing. Look it up).
And 12 combinations of family photos—Quick! Before anyone leaves! Get the girl cousins! (See above. Italian Goodbyes).
And my mother-in-law’s gingerbread.
2020 wasn’t the year for any of that. So, I was determined to pivot and recreate what we could. Turns out Scorpios do have some positive traits.
Thanksgiving may not have been typical, but it did have homemade apple pie (thanks, Aunt Ida for the recipe). It did have reminiscing with hometown friends (thanks, Zoom). It also had us staying in one spot. For the first time in 15 years my husband and I spent the holiday under our own roof. It was weird, but also weirdly nice.
By December I had accepted that there wouldn’t be cookie decorating with the little cousins. Or Christmas Eve Eve (yes, that’s two eves. We do December 23rd big) with the big cousins. Or an epic Christmas Eve charcuterie board with a signature cocktail at my in-laws’.
We’d be staying put.
And then something happened. We woke up on December 25th to snow. An actual White Christmas. With nowhere to be except with each other. We had never experienced a Christmas morning like this. Normally from the time we wake up we’re on the clock. Santa came! Open presents at one house. Have cookies for breakfast. Open presents at another by 11 a.m. Is anyone hungry for lunch? Does a child need to nap? What time do we need to leave for dinner? When was the last time the kids had a bath?
This was a Christmas without timelines. Our girls bounded into the living room, shrieking with delight at the sight of their gifts, inspecting the chimney and discussing the logistics of Santa’s worldly travels. My husband and I sat together, observing, listening in on the sisterly chatter and smiling. Even the dog was curled up and relaxing by the tree.
As the girls’ imaginations ran wild exploring their new toys, I sat in my jammies—all day— leisurely sipping spiked eggnog. It was peaceful and truly joyful, even though it was different.
2020 taught me that new traditions can still be magical, change isn’t always bad, and we can recognize disappointment without allowing it to ruin our holidays. It also taught me that I might have an unhealthy correlation with food and celebrations, but that’s a conversation for another time…
(Wednesdays. With my therapist).