Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins.
1 Peter 4:8
When Paige got sick many things changed in our home, our ‘normal’ needed some tweaking. This included holidays. We made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas but I am not sure we did it very gracefully. Due to doctors appointments, episodes, bad days and very little ‘extra’ money, we kept gifts and decorating to a minimum. We didn’t do our traditional baking, we didn’t go to Christmas parties and we didn’t do Elf on the Shelf. While I had some guilt about this, I just kept telling myself, ‘this is our new normal.’ But deep down that was hard for me to come to terms with.
And up until this morning, this is how we would have done Valentine’s Day. Just muddle our way through another holiday with no decorations, no special meal, no gifts exchanged and just a few mumbled words to each other. Then it hit me. These kids are looking to ME to set the tone if our ‘normal’ and I am not doing a very good job. I am letting the weight of Paige’s illness take over our lives. I am worried about spending a dollar when I have no idea how we are going to pay for her future treatments. I don’t want to go all out on something and then her have a bad day and not be able to participate. I don’t want to plan anything away from home and worry the whole time about her having an episode. But this morning I said ENOUGH. And Justin and I went to the dollar tree and spent $16 on balloons, Valentine paper goods and a few gifts for the littles. Then we went to the market and got flowers, chicken and ginger ale for dinner. While our celebration won’t be on the scale of past years, we WILL still celebrate.
Traditions have always been important to me. Both the new ones that Jim and I have created with our children and the ones passed on from our childhood, they give tthe kids life long memories and something to take with them from their childhood into their own family one day. I need to remember that we don’t need to have to have lots of money, or go all out to carry on these traditions, we just need each other.
So tonight we will have our traditional baked ziti (since it has red sauce), but we will be using gluten-free noodles and organic pasta sauce. We will also be using very little mozzarella cheese and only on top to keep it nearly dairy free. We will not be having red jello or heart-shaped garlic bread, like we have had in years past, there also won’t be cute little hearts full of chocolate. Instead we will be having roasted veggies, a salad and ginger ale as a treat. One tradition that I just can’t let go of this year though is chocolate covered strawberries, there will be chocolate covered strawberries. We will all be together, we will enjoy a great meal together and we will have the memory of another Valentine’s Dinner, it is just ‘different’, or our new normal.