I opened the first one last week.
A sweet holiday card with a folded up piece of themed paper tucked inside.
Before unfolding, I took a deep breath. These letters are tough sometimes.
I love hearing the updates. I enjoy seeing what everyone’s been up to. This year, it’s interesting to see how 2020 has changed some holiday letters.
I read them with joy, and always, a little gnawing sense of unease that is difficult to name.
It’s not jealousy. It’s not sadness. No, it’s more like a dull, aching acceptance.
I have never written a holiday letter. Not one.
I always thought I might. I did send Christmas cards for a few years, but even that felt forced, like I was trying to live someone else’s life.
The last Christmas card we sent was the December after we received my son’s autism diagnosis. The stack of envelopes didn’t even get mailed until after New Years, and included a farewell to 2012 as likely one of the most challenging years of my life.
It wasn’t. Looking back, that year doesn’t even rank in the top 5 most challenging years of my life.
For The Mom Who Won’t Be Sending A Holiday Letter This Year
I am not sad that we don’t participate in this tradition. The truth is, I’ve learned that our holidays will look necessarily different. I have also learned to love them, with all their messy goodness and lack of requirement.
In 2020, I know who we are now, and who we are not.
I know what we want to be about, and what we need to let go.
This year feels like a year I can publish a holiday letter, and maybe, just maybe, be understood a little. Everyone struggled in one way or another this year. Most families didn’t get to have their normal vacations and holiday celebrations. Even school milestones looked different.
A “normal life” in 2020 looked a lot more like my life than usual.
2020 has been a great equalizer when it comes to dealing with uncertainty, a lack of tradition, and loss.
My Holiday Letter This Year
Dear Sweet Friends and Family,
It’s hard to believe that the longest year of our collective lives is coming to a close, and yet here we are. 2021 is just around the corner and I still feel like it’s March.
It’s been a wild year for the Wingerts.
As the world has had to learn about immunological protections, we, for the first time, were ahead of the curve! Because my youngest has Common Variable Immunodeficiency, we are accustomed to taking extra safety precautions to protect him from viruses. In fact, the last three flu seasons have looked a lot like this year’s quarantine for us. It was odd to feel like we knew what to do, when everyone else was struggling. I’m so sorry for your anxiety around all of this. I know it deep and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
The odd thing is, because of both of my sons’ specific immune diagnoses and therapies, we have likely been better protected than most.
A wonderful example of this is the subcutaneous infusions my youngest began in June. After years of fighting, we finally received authorization, strangely enough, because of the threat of COVID. We are perhaps one of the only families to benefit significantly from this pandemic. Because, you see, these weekly infusions have given my son his life back. They’ve given all of us a little piece of our lives back.
He rock climbs and plays with his dog. He reads now, little by little. He’s witty and fun. I am so proud to be his mom.
2020 turned out to be the best year yet for him.
My oldest is getting ready to graduate high school this spring. It’s strange just typing that and yet, here we are.
He still struggles in many ways. In others, not at all. He’s brilliant and kind. He’s funny and sarcastic. I am so proud to be his mom.
As we navigate our way towards independence and adulthood, I need to protect his privacy, now more than ever. I won’t be sharing much about his transition, but please know, it is a mix of awe, anxiety, terror, paperwork, beauty, satisfaction and a gnawing sense that I may have totally failed him. Only time will tell.
My husband and I have come to a sort of pinky swear agreement that has become almost iron-clad as the year has gone on. We need to do what is right for our family, no matter how unusual it may seem. This is true for how we live our daily lives, how we worship, how we budget, and even how we eat dinner.
It’s been a good year for him to see what it’s really like, being here every day. Seeing what it takes. I thank the shut down and quarantine for increasing his awareness and understanding.
We lived this year together, every single day since March.
It wasn’t easy, but it never is.
The four of us celebrated Thanksgiving together last week. The boys were in charge of all of it. The recipe selection and planning, the grocery shopping and the cooking.
It was one of our best.
You see, this family of mine knows how to take something hard and find ways to make it easier. It’s kind-of our thing. A Thanksgiving Meal was no match for my boys.
And so, as the year comes to a close and we head into our Christmas, I want you to know that we are thinking of you and yours. I know this year has been unkind in so many ways for so many of you. It makes my heart ache.
But just the same, I want you to know that no matter how hard it has been, or how bad it seems, there is always, always, always a way through. It might be found in the most unexpected place, at the most inopportune time, but it’s there.
I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and a very Merry Christmas.
More Holiday Posts To Encourage And Support:
Take A Peek Inside Our Daily Life During The Holidays:
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.