Does the image above mirror your holiday mood? It does mine. You may leave your building today with less enthusiasm or energy than you’ve ever had going into a holiday vacation.
I’m not going to tell you to take care of yourself. What I am going to do is help you leave a few things at the door of your school so you can enter your holiday and home with the best of what you need for Thanksgiving break 2020.
1. Leave expectations at the door. This Thanksgiving isn’t normal, so take with you the best of what it may be with just you and your family, small as it may be or no turkey if you’re in quarantine.
Use the day to rest, decorate, watch movies or read a book. Consider it a sabbath if you can’t gather the way you’d like. There will be other Thanksgivings. This is what I’m telling myself as three of my four kids are gathering together without us.
2. Leave work at the door. The work will be here when you get back. Or do some of it during vacation. But work cannot be all your holiday. You must separate from work in any way possible, even if it’s having “office hours” for a certain time during break.
If ever an emotional separation from work is necessary, it’s right now so you can be ready to go for the last big push before Christmas.
3. Leave heaviness at the door. I’m not going to say leave all your emotions at the door. It’s impossible. Emotions are good things. But when we keep them piled up and carry them with us like those backpacks some of our Kindergarteners bring, it is unhealthy and weights us down. Instead, be honest about how you’re feeling and why.
I’m sad because I can’t get together with family.
I’m exhausted from this whole semester.
I’m not motivated to put up Christmas decorations.
I’m in need of a long winter’s nap.
I’m grieving because this year feels so lonely and I don’t know when it will change.
….You get the picture
4. Leave your students’ (patients’, clients’) burdens at the door. Many of us carry worries and sadness for our kids this time of year. Worrying about them won’t help them over break (literally think about that. It doesn’t help them). But it weighs you down just like that backpack.
You are the bright person in your student’s lives and your love and influence go with them when you can’t be with them. So think of yourself in their heart, and trust the love you give them to go with them.
Here are some things you can pick up while as you go:
1. Good grief. Many of you are grieving what you’re missing, including people you wish you could be with. I am. I buried my dad yesterday, who died from COVID complications.
Good grief is not false positivity. It’s living in the “and.” Sadness and peace. Gratitude and loneliness. Exhaustion and being okay.
Your grief this holiday season is different than mine. Don’t push it away. If you need to cry, then do. But also reflect on the goodness about 2020.
2. Your voice. Not to yell, but to say, “I feel sad.” Or “I’m exhausted. I’m not going to cook a lot today.” Or ” Can you help me?”
Don’t be ashamed. You’re not created to do it all. Superheroes you are. But even superheroes sleep and have Robin as their sidekicks.
3. Hope. TBH……winter is not looking too promising if you focus on the negativity swirling around you. My hope is in the people I love, the job I have that is meaningful and makes a difference in a pandemic.
My hope is in 2021. We’ve made it through a h*&^ of a year. Though winter seems uncertain, I have hope that Thanksgiving 2021 will be different. There are so many more things in which we have hope! I am looking at those things.
Friends, you are heroes. There’s a song I love called “The warrior is a child.” I love the image because even warriors and heroes need to be vulnerable and taken care of.
So, leave these things at the door. Pick up what you need to for a great holiday. Be more of a kid and less of a hero over break. Play in the snow, watch Disney movies, and eat ice cream from a carton. Jump on your bed or live in your PJ’s.
Because you’ll pick up your superhero cape on November 30 as as you walk back through the doors of school, hospital, or office.
And we need you.