2020 is gone. The last couple of years have been incredibly challenging – and then there was Covid. Hopefully 2021 will be a year of resets, mercy, joy, forgiveness, humility and above all love in the grace of God. May Mary’s gentle heart lead us in gentle ways.
Advent 2020 begins on Sunday, November 29th. Which gives me more or less four weeks to get ready. In order for Advent to be a peaceful and faithful time I like to get as much of the Christmas prep out of the way as possible. So in the four weeks leading up to Advent I have this plan.
Week 1 – Lists and Inventory Week 2 – Deep Cleaning and Organize Week 3 – Shopping Week 4 – Thanksgiving and Prep
This week we are making lists and taking inventory. We have a list of the things we want to do during Advent and put events on the family calendar, a list of crafts that we want to make and a shopping list for what we need. Any parties we are wanting to host and what we need for them. Menus, cookie baking, candy making and Christmas giving as well.
This is also the week for taking inventory of what we have and what we might want to let go of and what we might want to add. Make sure we have Advent candles. I also like to do a walk through of the house and add any small fixes or repairs that need to happen for next week.
Deep cleaning and Organizing is pretty straight forward. (weather permitting we will put lights on the house but not start turning them on until after Thanksgiving. ) During this we will go through toys, cloths and craft supplies and get rid of anything that we can. Anything we find we will need can get added to our lists.
Shopping week we will go through our lists and order any gifts that we need. My goal is to have Christmas shopping done this week so that I am not doing the stress shopping thing during December. We also buy non-perishables that we will need for baking and cooking and anything that is on our shopping lists and of course, Thanksgiving dinner shopping.
Thanksgiving week is basically set aside for the big feast, and making Advent wreaths, setting up the Advent calendar and family time. We don’t do Black Friday shopping.
Which all leads into a more peaceful Advent that we can focus on the birth of our Savior and making happy family memories.
We finished up our ballots and sent them off. I pray that our country will find peace and that people will remember that those who disagree with them are still our brothers and sisters in Christ and deserving of respect – even when they are dead wrong on many issues.
You haven’t been remote working and you haven’t been homeschooling since Covid-19 broke out. What you have been doing is trying to work from home in a crisis and trying to help your kids finish the school year (or start an new one) at home with no time to prepare. What we have been doing the past few months is as close to Remote work and homeschooling as getting washed up on a desert island after the boat had sunk is to going on an island vacation. There was no plan, no structure, no real support and no idea when you would be rescued or how that would happen.
You haven’t failed
Let’s start with the simple truth, no matter how bad last spring was for your kids you haven’t failed. But this situation has been so hard on so many kids. They are missing their friends, activities, milestones – life. And they are stuck at home trying to follow lesson plans and do zoom meetings in a vacuum. And it is so hard.
One of the boogie-men that homeschoolers are often confronted with is “What about socialization?” frequently asked in random grocery store check-out lanes from probably well-meaning strangers, accompanied by a smile that confirms they have played the ultimate “gotcha” card. But now this is actually a real question. Even veteran homeschoolers have had a hard time. We are used to play dates, field trips, enrichment classes and dances. Summer camp and team sports have been cancelled. Socialization is suddenly a real concern.
This might not be over yet. The first school to reopen this year had to worry about infect students after the very first day. This doesn’t bode well for us being able to go back to any semblance of normal anytime soon. Families who have shifted their plans to homeschool in the fall are actually in a better place at this point than families that are waiting for the schools to figure out what is happening. (this goes for businesses too)
5 things you can do to make this fall better
Shift your mindset to homeschool mindset – Remember that you, as the parent, are the one responsible for educating your children. The school is there as a resource to help you. No matter what the school does or doesn’t do you are the one who has the God given responsibility to turn out a competent adult. You know your children better than the school – don’t be afraid to push back.
Plan to get out of the house every week – go on walks or hikes, build a tree-house, take up bird watching, do a neighborhood clean-up .. but get out of the house.
Don’t let the school burn your kid out – Schools are notorious for time boxed learning that is actually massively inefficient. In a classroom so much time is spent transitioning 20 or more children from one lesson or activity to another. There are discussions, reading out loud, handing out papers, logging into apps or finding the correct website all set at the pace of the slowest.
In some cases teachers have been replacing 8 hours a day of “school time” with 8 hours of busy work. The kids would never have been expected to do all this work if they were in a classroom. One of the most common surprises to new homeschoolers is how little time it actually takes to get through a good amount of school work. Make sure that your children aren’t getting overloaded by classroom teachers who have no experience in remote learning.
Make sure that your kids have friend time – even with social distancing you can find ways to get together with friends. Even the most introverted need social connection sometimes. Arrange a picnic, a bike ride, a couple of friends over.
Keep a schedule Have a time to get up, set times for school work, time for play. Create rituals – baked cookies on Wednesday, make Friday Divine Mercy day, and Sunday afternoon family game time. Don’t let one day just bleed into the next until time becomes one mind numbing mass.
With prayer and love our families will navigate moving forward.
Lizzy is doing her part to keep people healthy (even though she hates wearing the mask)
I have no idea why so many people are so against the very simple act of wearing a mask when they are out in public. Right now we are facing a very uncertain health situation, and while you might be certain that this is a “plandemic” or “over-blown” the fact remains that we have a public health situation that is possibly deadly to a portion of the population. Our brothers and sisters. Our fellow citizens. If you skip the politicians and just look at the best science information that we have here is what you know. Covid-19 will likely not kill you if you get it, and you probably won’t get it in the first place. And if you do get it your symptoms could range from almost nothing to organ damage.
I am shocked to see that some of the same people who will not vaccinate their children because of a 1 in a million rate of vaccine related injury rate will blithely yet firmly assert their right to not wear a mask. Who really wants to run the risk of passing an infection to someone else? Why not do everything you can, especially when it is something so easy.
So this is my two cents (despite the coin shortage) based on the fact that I have two children who work in grocery stores. They are deemed essential workers and they go to work. And they have to check out your groceries.
You do not wear a mask to protect you. If you are going to get ill it will most likely be because you touched a surface and then your face. You wear a mask to protect others. You can be contagious and not feel that sick or even know you are. Your mild symptoms might be dismissed in your need to buy cereal or laundry soap. So you go out and if you are not wearing a mask every sneeze, every cough, every wheeze could be “sharing the plague”. And that young man or young woman checking you out at the grocery store could bring home a virus and infect a medically fragile sibling or a grandparent.
There are some very few people that due to allergies, skin or breath issues or past trauma have problems wearing masks. If that is you realize I do not have a problem with that and you have nothing but my sympathy. It is the person walking through Costco bellowing about “sheeple” and their “rights” that I take issue with. Sure you have a right to not wear a mask — or clothing at all for that matter — but please just wear it. It is not a government conspiracy to get control and impliment the new world order and start herding Christians into camps – wearing a mask is a simple kindness you can perform for your fellow man. A corporal act of mercy to protect those who are medically fragile. And act of Christian self-mortification for the protection of others. And it help keep my kids from bringing home a virus that could kill my mother.
You might think the COVID-19 concerns are panic and overblown – or you might think that we aren’t doing enough fast enough. The reality is probably somewhere in between, but I want to take a minute here to plead with our church leaders to think through what coronavirus can mean for your parish.
Some quick facts:
Your parishioners are probably older. Sure we all want to think we belong to the one fabulously vibrant youthful parish, but the truth is that you have a lot of the 65+ crowd in your pews every Sunday.
You bring people in the community who normally aren’t together into the same space every mass.
Your children are germ machines.
People touch things and each other at Mass, they sneeze, they cough – they spread diseases.
Just think of this scenario: Little Bobby goes to school and contracts coronavirus from a classmate on Friday. He is asymptomatic, but he is carrying the virus. He sneezes into his hands on the way to mass because he is 6 and six-year-olds do that sort of thing. Mom and dad are busy talking about the fact that the big game they have tickets to this weekend was canceled – no one thinks to wash their hands before entering the chapel. The family enters the church and Bobby places a finger into the holy water and makes the sign of the cross, he touches three pews on the way to his seat, he runs his hands over the back of the pew in front of him. He shakes Susan’s hand at the sign of peace. Susan lives in the retirement community across the street. In three days she will be showing signs of illness, in 14 days most of the people living in her community will have COVID-19 and several of them will die.
This is not unlikely.
If your Bishop has not taken the brave and prudent step to suspend mass what can you reasonably do?
At the very least
Remove the holy water fonts
Do not have the Sign of Peace
Put in hand sanitizer stations
Ask parents to keep a watchful eye on their small children and ask them not to touch anything
Ask parishioners to stay home if they or a family member are ill
Clean surfaces in the parish between masses.
remove your missals and hymnals
Ask parishioners to spread out and not sit close together (6 ft between families is a good guide)
Add more masses and ask parishioners to attend off time masses.
suspend offering the Eucharist under both species (no communal cup)
cancel all church events (including religious education)
If you are in a parish and your priest in not taking measures like this what can you do?
Attend a less popular mass and sit well away from other parishioners
Wash your hands before and after mass and when you return home
Do not attend mass if you or a family member are ill
Don’t touch anything you don’t have to (this includes touching or kissing images and statues)
Stay close to home (if you attend mass while traveling or travel to attend mass you can spread germs either to the new location or bring them from the other location to your community)
Pray that this passes quickly and that the situation is not as bad as experts are currently predicting
If this is Friday dinner you are missing the point of fasting.
Yes, I have actually seen someone recommend Lobster bisque for Friday in Lent. That just isn’t fasting. I mean I suppose it is technically allowed, but still seems to go against the spirit of what you are supposed to be doing.
If you, like me, struggle with getting through a novena (it still counts if you skip one day and double up the next, right?) you might want to try a wonderful prayer tool called Pray More Novenas. Currently, I am on day 3 for the St. Peregrine Novena