We’ve all missed the “big things” of 2020, but did you miss this too?

Written by Lisa Tyson
Published on December 15, 2020

You have not heard from me in a while. I could give you a thousand excuses as to why. 

I have been busy with work (true statement). I have had stuff going on with my kids (again, true statement). I had COVID (sadly, true as well). 

But the reality is that I have not been writing because I have had nothing I wanted to write about. I miss life before everything was “unprecedented.” It feels like COVID came in, took completely over, and CHANGED EVERYTHING. 

For someone who does not embrace change, it has been a difficult year. 

Not this year . . .

We always go to my in-laws the Friday after Thanksgiving—all twenty-five Tysons. It is the kind of chaos that only large families can embrace. 

For the first time in thirty years, there was no crazy Thanksgiving dinner.

We always go to the big Christmas program at our church. I have done this since I was twelve years old, and now it has become a traditional Mother–Daughter Date Night. 

Well, the program was canceled. 

We always go on a family cruise between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is what we “give” our kids for Christmas as they are at an age where we are more interested in making memories together than collecting “stuff.” 

This year there will be no tropical getaway.

We always do ALL the things . . . but not this year. 

Searching for new traditions

I was discussing with my husband all the things we have missed, are missing, and will miss. Actually, lamenting would probably be a better word. The “we can’ts” and “we won’ts” had built up and overwhelmed me into a funk. 

After my tantrum, he looked at me and said, “Stop thinking about all of the big things you are missing and focus on all the little things that we will get.” 

With (a little bit less than) sincere appreciation for his input, I said, “Like what?” 

He proceeded to list things like finding new recipes for family dinners, new traditions, breakfast dates with my sons, crafting with my daughter, looking at Christmas lights, trying new restaurants, figuring out creative ways to see his crazy huge family, etc.

Sometimes it really is about the little things.

What could be 

I get so focused on the way it always “has been” that I cannot even consider what it “could be.” When I said that I don’t embrace change, what I really meant is that I absolutely despise it with every fiber of my being. Rethinking the holidays does not come easily for me. 

But now, I get to put my big girl pants on and make a decision. Am I going to continue to mourn what “used to be” or am I going to figure out how to find joy in “what is”? 

I choose the latter.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 ESV).

Sometimes I wish that Scripture wasn’t quite so obvious in telling me what I ought to be doing. This verse does not leave anything open to interpretation. 

“Rejoice ALWAYS”: not just when things are the way you want them. 

“Pray without ceasing”: this places me in constant fellowship with God. 

“Give thanks in all circumstances”: no “COVID clause” that allows me to pout or be grumpy. 

“This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”: there is not a need to question what God’s will is because it is pretty clearly laid out.

Thankfulness, joy, and prayer

So what does all of this have to do with parenting? 

Honestly, everything! 

We set the tone for our homes, and our kids follow our lead and example. 

We have to model thankfulness in ALL circumstances, even when we are not going to Nana and Grandpa’s for Thanksgiving or on a cruise at Christmas. 

We have to show them how to choose joy even when some of our old traditions will have to become new traditions for a season. 

We have to model prayer because it is our lifeline to the only One who isn’t thrown by all the things that are happening in the world today. 

Our kids have to see us doing these things whether they are toddlers, teenagers, or college kids coming home from a semester that has already been anything but normal. 

Find joy in the little things. It’s possible all the little things will actually become the big things when we look back on the 2020 holiday season. 

Maybe some of the new traditions will become family favorites. At the very least, we can show our children that “different” is not necessarily “terrible” and that “new” can be just what families need. 

Learning to choose joy is a life skill that will carry us all far past the events of 2020.

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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

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