Little bits of normalcy

This will be a Christmas like no other, not just for our family, but for many families around the world. A global pandemic really puts its own twist on the holidays.

Four of my adult children will be celebrating remotely with us this year. And yes even though 3 of them live only minutes away in the next town over – they will not be coming to our house.  

We do this remote celebration this year in the hopes that we will all be able to celebrate together next year.

As a mom who is and has always been into celebrating Christmas (our tree typically goes up Thanksgiving weekend) planning a remote celebration has been challenging.

Amazon wish lists have come in handy, but I also wanted to make sure that everyone got personal family gifts to open on Christmas morning. Advanced planning and getting packages out early helped with the one who lives in Tennessee and having the other boys stop by to pick up their Christmas boxes from our porch is how we are delivering gifts this year.

It’s all working out, with the exception of one tiny detail.

When the kids were little, Santa hung a Candy Cane Bouquet on their door when he came to visit. It was a way for the kids to know that Santa had visited and it gave us a little bit of time to turn tree lights on and start the coffee while they ate their Christmas Candy Cane.

Over the years, this has been a favorite tradition in our house. Well except for that *one* year when Marc and I, exhausted, went upstairs at around 2 am to finally go to bed for a few hours before the kids woke up. On the way to our bedroom a bouquet was carefully placed, and a certain little toddler heard the jingle bells and that was that.

He knew Santa had come and he knew there were presents under the tree for him. We managed to get him back to bed but that only lasted 45 minutes.

That was the Christmas eve when mom and dad didn’t get any sleep. At all.

It was after that event that we instituted the “crack of dawn” rule. You couldn’t leave your bedroom until the crack of dawn (and of course one of my very literal kids came up to our bedroom early one Christmas morning because he was convinced, he had heard the crack of dawn.)

Funny memories like these are what makes the holidays so special in families. We will all miss being together this year. We will miss going over the highlights of the last year and we will miss reminiscing over some of our favorite family stories.

But one thing that my kids will not miss during this pandemic is a Candy Cane Bouquet. Santa was nice enough to deliver them early and so each remote family member has one tucked away in their Christmas box.

Because during a time of great upheaval, uncertainty, and frustration – sometimes it’s the little bits of normalcy that can bring the most comfort.



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2 responses to “Little bits of normalcy

  1. Judith Gott

    Love this! So in the spirit of the beauty of a candy cane bouquet-
    My Wish for your family, all families, all folks everywhere:
    Strength, health, hope, and peace in the new year! (Because we all need
    some peace and quiet these days)!

  2. Elaine Mcmanness


    I have so missed your very interesting and often funny comments on your posts from “Lessons Learned”. The blow post had me laughing outloud at your comment about the son who “heard” the “crack” of dawn. I just love that. That is definitely the type of things we remember about those precious years of Santa visits and the actions and comments that our children come up with. I, too, had one child particularly that liked to slip down before everyone else to check out what everyone got and one year, she decided to make changes to Santa’s placement of gifts for each child and when the rest of us came down, we had some very sad children that Santa had given their gifts to their sister. She had such a pile of toys in front of her that I couldn’t help but hide my laughter. I had to do some quick thinking and indicated that I had come down earlier than Leslie and had seen what everyone had received, so had to have her return the toys from Santa back to both her two younger siblings as well as her 3 older siblings, which included 2 brothers….she had even taken both of their G.I. Joe’s that Santa had left the boys. The following year and every year thereafter, Santa wrapped his presents and taped everyone’s name tags down very tightly. I found out many years later, when I commented once that this daughter wrapped her presents exactly like I did and she laughed, but said nothing – then her two younger sisters ratter her out and let me know that was because she had unwrapped every gift I put under the tree before Christmas morning, and very carefully so she could then rewrap them so I wouldn’t notice. Of course, she told everyone what they were getting so no one was ever surprised – except Mom who couldn’t believe her children rarely seemed very happy about their gifts.

    Your earlier email about Marc’s surgery last year and subsequent problems with the breaking of the wires that held his sternum together, made me shudder and I immediately said a prayer for him. My husband had triple bypass when he was 54 and for a year after the surgery I worried about the same thing happening – not that it did, but I was so worried about the possibility, that I was constantly fretting over it. Ed was given a specially made teddy bear by his surgical team that was firmer than your typical teddy bear and its firm back was made to fit the curve of the sternum for the specific reason to hold against the chest wall at any time he had to cough or sneeze. He kept that bear near him all the time and even took a firm throw pillow to his office, once he went back to work to have to protect his chest while away from his bear. Ed had allergies so was always sneezing, which he did quiet loudly and hard, which caused him more chest pain than coughing. I feel for you both – for his pain and for your worry. God bless you both, this has been a horrible year for you due to this and I’m so sorry. I will keep you both in my prayers.

    I have wondered what was going on with you and if perhaps you had stopped writing your “Lesson Learned” blog and worried that I had perhaps missed your last edition. I truly have missed them, as they were always so interesting and felt the void once the updates about the chickens, the children, and you and Marc stopped coming every week. I felt like a part of my life was suddenly changed. Since my husband died almost 8 years ago – 26 years after his bypass, but 16 years longer than he had been given to live after his surgery – I have lived alone. I work from home everyday so don’t get out much and don’t have time to get out and meet the neighbors through the day and they remain inside in the later afternoons and evenings when I finish work, so except for the two on either side of me and two across the street, I don’t know too many neighbors and so have few friends. My extended family here locally don’t come around often now that they’ve gotten used to me living here, so I rarely see them unless I call them to come over for dinner. This year due to COVID-19, I have seen my two younger siblings only twice in 12 months and absolutely no one else. My oldest son was here for 3 days in Feb before flights were stopped, which happened only a few days after he returned back to PA. I have not seen my 3 younger daughters in 7 years for one and almost 8 years for the other two, so only once since Ed died, so since I didn’t have visitors much before COVID, it has been much worse this year. I have developed heart problems – Atrial Fibralation – that started before Ed died, but has become worse and more often since he passed. Have found that the culprit was stress, probably from the 26 years I worried about him, as my doctor says my cholesterol is the type that does not form blockages, except in the case of extreme stress. Two years ago this past Oct. I had two stints put in blockages of 90% in the main artery and 75% in one on the side of the heart. I have two more that are under 50% in 2 other veins and though not back enough to stint yet, they still cause me to have shortness of breath so my activity level has been greatly reduced, but I am happy that I can continue to work to support myself. So with all of this, I have little activity and NO excitement in my life, thus why I have missed hearing from you.

    Anyway, so good to hear from you Saturday and again today. As I stated, I will keep Marc (and you) in my prayers, as I do understand the kind of worries these type issues can cause. Take care and hope you have a good Christmas, even though the children won’t be home. Hopefully, this year they will finally get COVID taken care of and live as we’ve known it in the past will be able to return. Merry Christmas, Windy, and may God bless you and Marc with good healthy and more happiness in the new year.

    Take care,

    Elaine McManness

    Tyler, TX

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