Different can be good, maybe even better!
Renée Lepp

When my daughter, Taryne was 8 years old, I had to break the news to her that that for the first time in her life, we were not going to spend Christmas with our extended family. Anyone who has an only child understands how traumatic this would be. I had delayed breaking the news as long as possible, hoping that Santa would drop a seat sale so we could afford the plane tickets to Edmonton, which were literally the same price as a trip to Paris – but no luck.

I will never forget the huge tears that rolled down her face, when she realized that her cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandma would all be together for Christmas, without her…plus there would be snow! I assured her that she would have extra presents and all the turkey and stuffing she could wish for, and that’s when she cracked, “But Mommy, you don’t know how to cook a turkey? Only Auntie Denise makes big family dinners.” I assured her that Auntie Denise and I grew up in the same house and that I knew how to make a turkey too (which was half true – we did grow up in the same house).

Anyhow, as Christmas approached, Taryne tried to be brave, but I felt her disappointment. The big day arrived, and magically we awoke to buckets of snow everywhere. I promptly got busy stuffing a giant turkey, when suddenly it dawned on me that I didn’t have a roasting pan. Taryne’s lip immediately started to tremble, and I confidently assured her we would simply borrow one. Unfortunately, everyone in the neighborhood was using their roasting pan – it was Christmas Day. 

I was starting to panic, when I realized the one person who definitely was not using their roasting pan, was my sister, who lived three blocks down the hill. We got in the car to go and get it, and promptly got stuck trying to get out of the driveway. Taryne looked at me like she had lost all faith in me, in Christmas, and in the world. I told her to get her sled and put on her snowsuit. I pulled her down the hill, located the roasting pan and turkey baster, helped myself to a little Christmas baking (just for good luck), and loaded up the sled. As we pulled the roaster up the hill, I felt like a super-mom, an overcomer, a genius.

We had a memorable Christmas that year, and when she was falling asleep Taryne said, “Mommy, different can be good… maybe even better.”  Over the years, when faced with big changes or challenges we have said those words in our family many times.

This year, we are all facing challenges and many things will be different. But we are facing it head on. We embraced a “new version” of an old tradition with our drive-in style graduation. Recently our Kindergarten teachers met with each “Kindie” and their parents individually to help transition them to their new school. We’ve moved to a semester system in the Senior School and changed up our advisory system so we can continue to check in with our kids every day. We won’t have our regular Open House, it will be virtual.

Things will continue to evolve and change, and we will be creative, resourceful, and kind. That is what we ask of our kids, and that is what we must model. We won’t give up our rituals and traditions. We will not let COVID take our joy away; we’ll just try it a different way, and “different will be good… maybe even better.”

For information about our Virtual Open House taking place on October 15, visit: www.southridge.ca/experience-southridge/open-house

Submitted by Ms. Lepp, Director of Enrollment Management