Make the milestones special any way you can...
We are all living in a very different world right now which can be difficult to navigate at times. I, like so many others have struggled with feeling sad and angry, but also grateful that my family and I remain safe and healthy. In many ways we feel like our lives are being put on hold, and we are missing out on so much due to this pandemic. In other ways, people have found happiness in quiet family time. We are all trying to carry on despite financial burdens, inability to interact with each other in a normal way and the uncertainty of when life as we knew it will return. Time moves on and milestones occur. Whether it's graduations, birthdays or other events that only happen once and can't be rescheduled... sadness and disappointment have been in the forefront.
My younger daughter Kayla was a high school senior this year, and it was devastating once we knew for sure that she would not be able to finish her senior year and have a traditional graduation. My heart broke for her and all of the high school seniors across the country in the same situation. My older daughter Danielle graduated 2 years ago, so the experience was fresh in our minds, and it was so tough to know that Kayla would not have the same celebration. She had an amazing high school career just as her sister did. A very special part of graduation is that the top 10% of the class walks first with a special stole. Both of my daughters worked so hard and were in that top 10% of classes of 400+ kids. Kayla would not get to have this special moment.
Danielle and I, along with my parents, were determined to make Kayla's graduation as special as it could be despite the situation. Hopefully as I describe what we did, it can inspire anyone reading this to find alternative ways to make events special during this time.
Kayla's school did a very nice job with their virtual graduation, and during the 2 weeks before graduation day, they had each senior come to the school with their family during a scheduled time to be filmed receiving their diploma in the auditorium. There were photo-ops at the school, and Kayla and her best friend scheduled their times back to back so they could see each other. We made this day celebration #1.
That morning we decorated the house in preparation for a dinner celebration following the "walk" at school. We got her favorite muffins for breakfast and ordered take-out from one of her favorite restaurants for dinner. We also had a cake done by a bakery we use all the time for special events which you can see in the first picture for this post.
Next: Take all the pictures!!
What is an event these days without tons of photos to remember it by. So we did all the normal family photos and we were able to snag best friend photos too! Here are just a few.
Next: Come up with something "special"!!
Our something special was to gather video messages from friends and family wishing Kayla a happy graduation with whatever sentiment felt right. We had an overwhelming response! Danielle collected videos from all the friends their age, and I went to our closest family friends many of whom have known Kayla since she was a young child including former elementary school teachers. Videos ranged from 15 seconds to 2 minutes. Some were funny and some were extremely sentimental. They were all heartfelt and so amazing. Danielle has incredible video editing skills, and she put them all together into a true masterpiece which we then showed Kayla after dinner and cake that night. Danielle had it set up to play on tv, and there was not a dry eye in the house. It was so special...and now Kayla will have this forever! ❤️
This intro was so cool! Danielle took everyone who started their video by saying "Hi Kayla" and put them all on this one screen and then went into the individual videos. We collected around 30, so it was quite the production!
Next: Do it all over again on Graduation Day!!
So two weeks later was what would have been Graduation day. Kayla's school compiled all the videos of the senior walks across the stage and all of the speeches which would have occurred as well as some extra fun stuff into an amazing video which they streamed on this day. Kayla wanted to watch it outdoors so we invested in a projector and screen which we didn't already have (to my surprise only $150 on Amazon👍🏻) and had a small gathering pool side to watch her officially graduate. We had expanded our "bubble" by this time and had some close friends over to celebrate. Our "theme" this night was make your own ice cream sundae, so we set up a sundae bar and everyone made a nice treat to take outside for the graduation 🎓
The school emailed all the parents a printable program!
So we had two wonderful celebrations instead of just one on graduation day, and I think we all felt it was just as special as a normal graduation, albeit in different ways. I think a little creativity goes a long way, and any milestone celebration can still be special. One of our friends said to Kayla in his video "Your graduation will certainly be nothing if not memorable for you and your classmates". This is so very true. Congratulations to Kayla and the rest of the Class of 2020!! #senior2020strong #NYUclassof2024
And don't forget the garden flag and lawn sign!!