Different Doesn’t Mean “Bad”

Everything about this year has been “different”. My kids remind me of this last least once day day. Usually in the form of a series of groans and grumbles followed by “But everything is just so . . . different”, where the word different is most definitely being used as a synonym for “bad”.

Yesterday, as both kids participated in virtual school, I decorated the house for Christmas. When they came down the stairs for their lunch break both kids were at first filled with excitement with their first real signs of Christmas.

It took a few minutes.

And then I heard it.

“Christmas is going to be so different this year”.

My reaction was swift and snappy: “DIFFERENT DOESN’T MEAN BAD”.

Since then I’ve been thinking about my reaction. As we entered a new round of lockdown where we live, different has meant my skating with my little one in the morning before school at the rink we created in our backyard instead of ferrying her to the actual rink for 7am each day. Different has meant family dinners followed by movies each night because homework is done right after school since there are no after school activities. Different has meant long family walks on the weekend, exploring trails and parks near our home that we’ve never had time to fully enjoy before since there are no weekend activities to rush out to. As far as I’m concerned, different this month has been quite enjoyable.

Of course, different has also meant visiting family is either virtual or outdoors and socially distanced – which isn’t the most fun in as we enter winter. And different is going to mean changing some of our Christmas traditions.

But none of these changes are inherently bad. They’re just . . . different.

What I hope, after this month when the differences in our current COVID-controlled lives are more starkly apparent than at any other time in the year as compared to our pre-COVID lives, is that my kids develop, if not a love for things being different, at least a deep understanding that different doesn’t mean bad.

Different just means different.

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