The old saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This past year has definitely had more than its fair share of lemon storms. As a community, we definitely could have weathered the storms better. Rather than coming together, understanding everyone was struggling, we seemed to divide, create clicks, and focus on things we could not change. This division has done nothing but end friendships, caused hope to be lost, and created more stress and drama than was needed.

With the pandemic still in full swing, many of us are unsure of our holiday plans, we are unable to travel home to be with family. My family and I are among this group. Where we will spend our holidays is up in the air as well. Because my husband and I work, and our daughter attends school, we run the continual risk of being exposed to COVID and cannot take the chance of giving it to my dad. This has greatly affected the time we can spend together as a family, and the wear is starting to show.

Typically, excited for this time of year, I usually have plans made for holidays and birthdays by August. But the uncertainty and daily challenges have left me lackluster and behind. As November came upon us, I finally stopped and began to plan the holidays. Realizing we would need multiple plans, I felt hopeless and overwhelmed.

I spent a few weeks in a funk, wallowing in how miserable the holidays would be without my parents. And then it hit me. Life is what we make it, we choose how we will feel, we choose our reactions. I cannot continuously say this to family, friends, and community members, I must live it. Our actions are much louder than our words. And so, I bravely broached the subject with my husband.

Neither one of us are happy with the idea of a nontraditional holiday, but we both know the holidays are what we make of them. Rather than trying to imitate the holidays of the past, I suggested we create a new tradition, something that is unique to our family. If the holiday celebration is new it cannot be compared to past holidays and therefore it cannot be wrong. Rick agreed and planning ensued.

We have not fully ironed out our plans. At the moment we have a plan to safely celebrate with my parents and a plan to celebrate a new holiday. We have negotiated the menu and are now discussing plans for the day. We did have invitations to spend the day with friends, but in truth, I did not want to feel like we were trying to fill a void, trying to create a substitute for our family tradition.

We felt new traditions would be healthier, a way to define what the holiday looked like and how it was celebrated. Creating new traditions can be scary, daunting, and even traitorous. Finding new and unique ways to celebrate a holiday can for many feel as though they are turning their backs on their families. But I ask you this, would your family want you sitting alone and miserable on a holiday or would they want you celebrating life and finding ways to make the day meaningful?

We plan to create a menu of each of our favorite items, take a long walk outside, and play with our dogs. If we cannot celebrate with my parents, then we will focus on creating a family centered day geared towards laughter, celebration, and life.

I love to hear from my readers. You can reach me at

Sara Orellana-Paape lives in Lawton.

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