Editor’s Note: For many of us, Christmas as we know it didn’t happen the same way this year. As we anxiously await to see when and how the pandemic will cease to be, the circumstances we have found ourselves facing over the past year made for some insightful topics for Elise McVeigh’s etiquette column. Elise is a resident of Highland Park and contributes a column appearing monthly for her neighbors receiving Estate Life Highland Park. We share this recent column hoping it may provide our expanded online audience some insight on how to handle the holidays and special events still ahead until the Covid 19 crisis is once and for all past us.
Dear Mrs. McVeigh,
My family hosts Christmas every year. I have three children, and several nieces and nephews who are college and high school age, who are always at my house on Christmas day. This year due to the Coronavirus, my recently widowed mother has said that she is concerned about coming over. As a result of her concern, she has asked that all family members quarantine two weeks before Christmas day.
I told her that I understand why she is asking this, but I do not want to tell my children that they cannot see their friends during this time period. She then said that if we do not quarantine before Christmas so the older family members do not get sick, we are being very selfish. She then started crying because she does not want to spend the Christmas Day alone. Am I just being that selfish and self-centered? What is the proper thing to do?
“Wanting a Holiday Season”
Dear “Wanting a Holiday Season,”
I have children your age, and I think they are already being robbed of a normal life, so not letting them see their friends during the holiday would be really hard on them. You can explain to your mom that you do not want her to have to spend the holidays by herself, but that you are concerned about your children and other family members their age from a mental point of view. This age group had very high anxiety as it was, and this pandemic is probably making it even worse.
I think mentally that our children are dealing with a lot of anxiety, depression, and a sense of loss, so asking a college student to come home and not see their high school friends for two weeks would make their mental state even worse. This is a blip in time for you, me, (and our parents), but our children cannot get their altered high school or college years back, and all that they mean to their mental growth.
Explain to your mother that you would feel bad if she did not have a great Christmas Day, but there will be more in her future. Then tell her that there will never be another “Senior year of high school,” or “Freshman year of college” for your children, and that you will not add even more restrictions on your children’s life. If your mom does not understand, that is on her, and not on you. Give her some possible suggestions so that she does not have to spend the day feeling alone.
Elise McVeigh is the founder of Mrs. McVeighs Manners and Elise McVeighs Life Camp, taking a unique approach to teaching manners to young children and university-aged students in a fun and effective way. She also gives seminars to parents on how to teach manners to their children and is the author of the book,“A Parent’s Guide to Manners for Kids – Lessons, Games, and Activities for Home, School and Beyond.” Follow Mrs.McVeigh on Instagram, MrsMcVeigh on Twitter, Mrs. McVeigh’s Manners or Elise McVeigh’s Life Camp on Facebook, and Elise McVeigh on LinkedIn.