One of the unexpected blessings of the pandemic has been the need to be mindful about where I go and who I see. It has forced me to slow down and simplify my life.
Before COVID-19, if I was bored I might “window shop” in a store like Home Goods or T.J. Maxx just to fill in time. Of course, nine times out of ten I bought something I just had to have or thought I might need some day. The result was retail therapy shopping with money better spent elsewhere and stuff accumulating in my closets. I know this because I’ve been cleaning out those closets during my time at home.
Also before COVID-19, when faced with being home on a Friday AND Saturday night, I would rush to make plans to go out to a movie or dinner with friends. Being uncomfortable with staying home on a weekend started in college / graduate school but why it continued into later adulthood is a mystery to me, but it did.
The severity of the outbreak this spring in the northeast and the need to keep mom safe resulted in big changes in my life. Suddenly it was very simple; was this a must-do or a want-to-do activity? Don’t get me wrong, it was hard. I’m an extrovert by nature so being completely cut off from social activities was difficult and, as I shared in an earlier post, depression was one of the results of the pandemic.
What I didn’t expect but grew to appreciate, was how clear it became to me that I need certain people in my life even if it is over Zoom. Once all the running around and filling up time slowed down (OK come to a dead stop), I realized how much I need to connect with the special people in my life. This was not always clear to me in the busyness of my pre-COVID life, so it was easy to put off making the effort to see them.
The aha moment was Thanksgiving. Normally we are hosting or attending a Thanksgiving with 12 or more family members. I didn’t realize how stressed getting ready for the holiday made me. There was grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and setting the table for a crowd, to name just a few of my responsibilities. This year there were three at our table. It may be the most relaxing holiday I’ve ever had. No pulling out the china, setting a huge table, making mountains of food to ensure we had enough (we are Italian after all), etc.
It’s the same for Christmas this year. Other years I host a holiday party which requires a fully decorated house, cleaning, a lot of baking and shopping for fun gifts to take home. This year I’m loving the simplicity of this holiday and the gift this is in my life. I’ve made mom’s favorite cookies (snickerdoodles) and will make chocolate chip this weekend. I’ve scaled down the decorating and gift giving. The result is I won’t be frantically wrapping presents Christmas Eve, stressed to the max.
These changes were influenced by a presentation given by my colleague and friend Elizabeth Miller of the Happy Healthy Caregiver. In her presentation she shared the idea of “One Thing.” It is the way her family ensures each member has the one thing that makes the holiday or event special to them. It is a great way to simplify and yet keep everyone happy and engaged.
There is beauty in these simple celebrations. There is joy in not living in self-inflicted chaos and stress. It’s a lesson I intend to carry over into my role as mom’s caregiver.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.Jump To Top
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