Let the Battle Begin
Like it or not, many of us are finding ourselves in a battle this year. The battle is best described as a battle between the way things have always been and how they must be this year.
In the battle, we have two jobs. We need to get very clear on our communication and to manage our emotions while inside it. Each of us must be clear about and then figure out how to communicate what they’re comfortable with this year.
Comfortable can be relative to gathering, traveling, our own comfort and that of others. We need to become aware of ourselves and everyone involved in the equation.
We must formulate and adjust our plans as new recommendations or guidelines come from local governments and policies are issued by health care experts and institutions. As we make plans, we can build in that modifiable factor. Some call it “Plan B,” and some just plain call it off due to updated situations or the parties therein. My family for years has laughingly referred to events details as “The Current Plan.” In the days before a wedding, we would frantically communicate by landlines and payphones asking for “The Current Plan.” It’s 39 years later and not so much has changed there.
PLAN AND TEST
We like planning and testing. Want to kill two birds with one stone? How about having a TEST Zoom call to gather folks to become more familiar with the platform and using it, to plan your holidays and (dare we say) talk about how the decisions at hand will affect all concerned.
Spend some time assessing exposures and risk as well as menu planning. Will we spend time in the same room? Masks on or off? Inside or outside? With family generally under the same roof plus persons from outside that address? Think and discuss these considerations all the way through. It can be a lengthy conversation but essential. Lifesaving, even.
Not everyone has the same reaction to or regard for what is happening with the pandemic and the restrictions or challenges we face. How do we reach or get on the same page?
We can begin by acknowledging disappointment. Disappointment that we are asked to change by a pandemic, a force outside ourselves. Or disappointment that the family might not be able to gather in person. Encourage everyone to say how they feel or what they’ll miss. It can be heartening to hear that your mashed potatoes are always the best ever when you didn’t know that. Don’t stick your head in the sand. Have frank and challenging discussions, but be affording of others.
We may all agree to the point that the common denominator during this pandemic year is precaution. With so much going on, so much evolving and many moving (and human) parts. We can agree at least to be cautious. This year may we all err on the side of caution and in consideration of whomever’s health may require the most concern. Some honor the most fragile among them by letting the considerations surrounding their health (or wealth, their ability or their willingness) to be the guiding principle. Most importantly, be willing to adapt to what other family members are comfortable with. Especially if they’re being strict about limiting exposure and keeping their circle small this year.
SAME PAGE (AGAIN)
Boundaries. Sacrifice. The strictest rules win.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the obvious and upbeat part of this year especially. We had the opportunity to try new things. Consider the traditional things (whether everybody liked them or not) to be getting a pass this year. Or incorporate those traditional elements into a new delivery system. Enter Zoom. Enter being together in (Thank Goodness we have) an all-new way.
We are hearing and reading of all-new ways to be together or that spark new tradition:
Watch Parties – invite a group to watch the movie simultaneously and text each other. Or Zoom before or after the family favorite holiday movie and share the parts you like best or that made you cry as a child. (Personal fav- the facial expressions made by the on the dog in the cartoon Grinch Who Stole Christmas as the Grinch makes him push the sled to the top of and then down the hill. And I’d tell you that I never really took to little Sally Who, but I can see her clear as day in my mind’s eye right now).
Football games – watch from your own vantage points and text each other with commentary during quarter changes. Call each other at half time for some smack talk.
Play a game online together – play a game, household to household, like Words With Friends or another. Who knows, you could discover a fun new holiday tradition. A quick online search will render several games to play during quarantine. Everything from Bingo (the game played across retirement homes, now virtually, we might add) to newer variations such as trivia games. All 100% free.
Eating together but apart — This Thanksgiving or Friends-giving folks are making plans to eat together but sharing time online. Each will dine on their own fare together, giving thanks with a blessing and sharing during the meal. (And I will tell my nephew Kenny that I am missing his always best-mashed potatoes).
During the monthly Zoom call with a close-knit group of professionals, we were discussing plans like these. One member thought it so natural that previously we would meet in a restaurant, eating together as we shared news and traded barbs, and she missed that. In our pandemic Zoom format, we’d all brown-bag our lunches and still meet, but for some reason, she felt odd when eating on a Zoom call, seeing herself “in front of everyone.” She’d been “in front” of us before: same friends, same mission, so what was this odd feeling all about? Perhaps that she could now see herself eating? We all acknowledged her admission and a few chimed in that they’d felt the same way! Mostly we agreed that the important thing was to “give a lot of grace” during these odd times and that the prevailing friendship and the group connection were more critical. When we realized that we were sacrificing, together, for a more critical goal, we became OK, feeling a little weird. Perhaps we would no longer allow odd or strange to rule.
Undeniably this entire year has been odd. It is undoubtedly different. Let’s all try to put it into perspective in whatever way will work for us.
- “They said we have to…. “
- “I’m not taking any chances.”
- “It’s just for this year.”
Or begin dusting off your Bah Humbug. Do what you will. This Patient Advocate will win the battle among those around her with a simple mantra I am known to use in my work all year, any year: “Safety is my litmus test.”
Let’s make good decisions, everyone. I hope to see you all right back here next year. If in the meantime you need support during the battle, contact us! We’re here to help.