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Challenge: Pandemic Parenting

All I Want for Christmas Is You

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Some people live for Halloween. They genuinely enjoy dressing up, chaos, and candy-fueled kids running amok. I do not. If there was a "Grinch" of Halloween, that would be me. Others have a soft spot for Thanksgiving. They love the food, the family, and the football. They actually watch the parade. I mean, I like Thanksgiving, I just don't love it.

Then there is Christmas. This is my jam. Even before the turkey leftovers are gone, I have programmed the Holly Channel on my radio, edited the holiday card, and decorated the house much like an elf would do. I have two trees. One is real and the other one is a fake, bitchin, white tree. It's my personal favorite. That's one of the first things to go up and this year it's magnificent, if I don't say so myself. It's a rainbow tree. Home Edit ladies, hear me roar. Anyway, I digress.

Aside from all the gratuitous decorating, I make lists. Gift lists. And then I spend over a month finding great joy in locating the perfect gift(s) for each person and putting my Type-A checkmark next to it when completed. I research shipping times. I plan out theme gifts. I drown myself in internet rabbit holes trying to find the gift for the people that have everything. I play Santa to my kids and I OWN this roll. How can I make all their Christmas dreams come true, I ask?

For the last twelve years, I have poured myself into making December 25th the stuff that dreams are made of. (Much like my parents did.) Every year I got a little bit more extravagant. (Much like my parents did.) To the point where we can no longer give our kids much....because they pretty much have everything. (Mom, I still need some stuff, not to worry.) I don't say this proudly....I'm acutely aware of how this looks. But don't fret. Fate stepped in. No, not fate. Something bigger.

2021 stepped in.

2021. The year that we thought that maybe we'd get back to "normal." Whatever the hell that is anymore. The year we would see family. The year we would travel again. The year that concerts and crowds were back on the menu. For like a day, we were even allowed to grocery shop without a mask so we could open up the damn produce bags in peace. Yes, we'd do it all with a vaccine card in hand and a healthy dose of Xanax, but we could do it.

Then Omicron walked in and said, "Hold my beer."

Never in my 43 years of existence have I seen so many holiday plans go up in smoke so swiftly. Days before Christmas I tested positive for and half of New York. And just like that, my kids were no longer allowed in the house, swept away to their dad's place, and my home became a covid crockpot. As a person who is in a constant state of perpetual motion, it is very unnerving to be forced into stillness. My entire Christmas operation just shut down and Instacart became my best friend. I had time to wrap, time to sit, time to cancel my trip to Mexico with the kids, and plenty of time to have Simon the Elf do ridiculous things. Unfortunately, my children couldn't witness his adventures in person, though. They had to settle for a morning FaceTime and virtual tour of his nightly antics. We all had to settle on so many levels.

I don't want a lot for Christmas There is just one thing I need.

I've never been away from my children for more than a week. And I certainly have never missed Christmas with them. Yet, here I was, locked up and isolated away from them on my Super Bowl of holidays. Sure, we finagled a plan that had them sleeping here on Christmas Eve and waking up to their presents on Christmas morning. It involved a lot of Lysol, me eating Christmas Eve dinner alone at my desk, and layers of masks. It meant no hugs, no kisses and no normal.

I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree. I just want you for my own. More than you could ever know.

I watched from a sad distance as they tore through the paper like the little savages that they are. Even behind their masks, I could see their perfect smiles. Thankfully, they didn't see my tears. It was absolutely crushing to be so close yet so far away from the little people that are my everything. But this year, the best gift I could give them is distance from me. The gift of protection from this asinine virus.

It's been nearly two years since this mess started and I've had a lockdown and plenty of time at home to reflect on all the things that I didn't really appreciate before Covid. And I thought I had a solid handle on that appreciation. I also believed that surviving all that home learning with three kids made me even stronger. I was wrong. It took being forced to stay away from my children for 10 days to make me truly cherish the little things and see that perhaps I'm not as strong as I thought. Not being able to hug my children is downright crippling.

I have long believed that life throws us curveballs not to torture us but to make us better. Only time will tell with that one. All I know is that in a few days, I'm going to squeeze the crap out of my babies and shower them with an embarrassing amount of post-Omicron kisses. And for a few days, I bet I will even enjoy their smelly feet, not mind their piss-poor toothbrushing, and smile when I hear them bicker over who touched whom first. I will do their endless laundry and bake their chicken nuggets and pasta with butter without complaint. I will laugh at their stupid jokes. I will appreciate the little things and love them bigger than I ever have before.

Make my wish come true. All I want for Christmas is you.


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