By: Kathryn Jackson
There’s nothing like the silence of home. When the kids have gone to bed and I’m surrounded by the comfortable glow that I’ve seen a thousand times, the peace and quiet hold onto me, and I reflect on my gratitude.
But it’s the evening of December 20th. In a normal year, we would be at my parents’ house by now – settled in, going on long walks throughout the day and playing games at night. Every square inch of the dining room table would be covered in Mississippi desserts, and I would watch my children staring up at the Christmas tree in the same place I have so many times before.
In contrast, I’m home in Massachusetts this holiday season, surrounded by the silence I love and long for, but it comes with an ache that I’ve come to know well this year. Not only that of loneliness, but of grief. Tonight, I lit a candle in memory of 1.7 million people who died from COVID-19 this year. These individuals left behind families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. They had plans, passions, and unique personalities. When I think about them, what a small sacrifice it seems to miss out on our usual Southern Christmas.
I keep thinking – I’m still here – andI want to honor the 1.7 million who are not. As we enter a new year, many of us will renew old goals and create new ones. I typically craft lofty plans of travel, weight loss, and professional accomplishments. This year, my hopes – and measures of success – are altered. They’re less about creating an Instagram-worthy life, and much more about creating a cherished life, defined by looking closer and lingering longer, remaining attentive to every detail.
Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” I’m listing a few of my goals for 2021 below. To my fellow moms – it truly goes by in a blink. Let’s not miss it.
- Don’t wait to celebrate
Pull out the pretty dishes, make a fort in the living room for movie night, or have a dance party in the kitchen. Every day is worth it.
- Turn off the screens
I don’t know how many moments I have missed while looking at other people’s lives. During quarantine, we started limiting our show time at night. After a full day of work and school for the kids, it’s easy to “turn off” in the afternoon and nighttime. Since we’ve been giving ourselves more space without TV or phones, we’ve laughed more and made more memories. We hope to implement even more screen-off time in the new year.
- Place worry aside (as much as possible)
If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that we’re not in control. Much of my anxiety comes from worry about the future, but I cannot control tomorrow. I have found that the more I relinquish my hold on the future, the more peace I find. I do what I can today, trusting that it will be enough for tomorrow.
- Enjoy my body
This year, I want to run, dance, take long walks, and maybe even take a kickboxing class (when it’s safe to do so). I often take my ability to move for granted. This year, I want to lean into all my body is capable of.
- Practice gratitude
I believe that shifting our mindset is one of the most challenging – but most rewarding – goals we can take on. How many nights have I fallen asleep thinking about what I didn’t accomplish, or what could go wrong the next day. I want to reframe these thoughts to focus on what did go well, and all of the many areas in my life that I am abundantly fortunate.
- Ask for help
I started seeing a therapist this year and opening up to friends about the messier parts of motherhood, marriage, and life. Talking to someone and admitting you don’t have it all together – that you need help – is hard but healing.
Wishing you all peace, joy, and hope in the year to come.