Years ago, Steven was in fourth grade and his teacher wished him Happy Birthday. He responded, “It’s not my birthday today. I’m using the Lariviere Flexible Holiday Rule.” His teacher laughed and asked him what that rule was. He explained that in our family, if your birthday, anniversary, or any holiday falls on a day that just doesn’t work for you, you can move it to the day of your choosing. Since Gene was often on call and in surgery on holidays or birthdays, I didn’t want him or the kids to feel bad, so I created a way for us to still have a special day and to make it fun.

I could have used that rule on our fifth anniversary as we sat with two children with chickenpox, fevers, and grumpy dispositions. I remember turning to Gene and saying, “Did you see this coming five years ago? And would you still have said I do?” We were too exhausted to see the humor.

When the kids were old enough to know what day it was, we had fun with the Lariviere Flexible Holiday Rule. We let the kids decide what day their birthday would be on and where they wanted to go out to eat. They amused servers with explaining the rule and most times, they got a special desert out of it. We moved so many Thanksgivings and Christmases over the years that it became our normal.

My sister recently asked me how many Thanksgivings I spent alone. I responded, “Too many to count.” But what I should have said was, “None. We just moved them.” This year, due to Covid-19, we made the call to our children to say that we need to respect what the CDC is recommending and shelter in our respective homes. Of course it was Steven who said, “It’s not the first time we have moved a holiday. We will just do it later.” I’m thinking “Christmas in July” has a whole new meaning in 2021.

I choose not to be sad that I won’t see my children or grandchildren on Christmas. I choose to celebrate the holiday and the fact that our family can adapt and support each other. I choose to burn up my phone on video chats and laughs with each of them Christmas Day . . . AND . . . I choose not to share the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie with anyone other than Gene!