How do you celebrate graduation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic? You find a way to come together with love, laughter and flexibility. No matter the state of the world, this motto has been with me since the mid 1980s when I was teaching and started taking part in high school graduation ceremonies.

It was always important for me to reassure the graduates it was truly their day and to enjoy it. But I would also add that graduation was perhaps more important for their families. My intent being, “please don’t display any behavior that would embarrass your mother!” One of the more memorable graduations was when seniors handed me a marble during our handshake. It certainly tested my flexibility, literally and figuratively.

Organizing Our Own Graduation

I have two grandchildren graduating this year. Our entire family has supported the CDC guidelines with social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands and we were supportive of Lincoln Public Schools canceling graduation ceremonies. It was always a challenge trying to organize 600+ graduates in a normal year, let alone in a year of a pandemic.

I’ve seen news stories of several high schools having creative graduation ceremonies in a race car stadium or on their football field. Our family decided to get creative too. Each grandchild and their family decided to do something special to recognize their unique graduation day. We were fortunate to be included.

Our granddaughter decided she wanted something simple. She and her mother called to let us know they would stop over, so I could see the graduate in her cap and gown. I thought it was a sweet gesture and appreciated her including us.

As a surprise, I decided to wear my doctorate cap and gown, which I would wear for graduation ceremonies before I retired. I quickly made a sign and a pretend diploma, and we were ready for their arrival. We topped off the day with a social distance supper for five at their home. It was a perfect graduation and party.

woman wearing graduation cap and gown with cloth mask

Our grandson was also scheduled to graduate in May. He wasn’t as excited to make plans, so his mom took over. His mom had seen pictures of our granddaughter’s earlier graduation and liked the cap and gown idea. I agreed to participate in the graduation, but we agreed to not tell my grandson the plan. We didn’t want him to run away. Knowing I had more time to organize, I made a few adjustments.

Making the Day Our Own

First, I decided to prepare a short and sweet speech. Next, I enlisted the assistance of my husband to be the musician. What is a graduation without music, even if it’s just a kazoo? A diploma was made and we were ready to go to our grandson’s house.

As we drove, I kept thinking of other aspects I could quickly add to the ceremony. This was either going to turn out very well, or he was going to run away. Now, I knew he wasn’t going to run away, but I didn’t want to embarrass him so much he wouldn’t have a good laugh.

We walked into their home, and I told him to put on his cap and gown and I put on mine. He looked at me like I was crazy, yet he played along. My husband organized the four family members in the back yard where the ceremony would be held.

The graduate and I (as the principal) walked the processional to the kazoo sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.” I gave a quick speech, handed him a pretend diploma, and then we recessed to the school fight song and cheers of family members and the neighbors who were grilling out next door.

A Day They’ll Never Forget

I reminded both of our 2020 graduates that their graduation will be one they’ll never forget. It certainly will be a graduation I’ll never forget. I know there will eventually be a new normal and a new routine for almost everything, including graduations. Both our granddaughter’s and grandson’s graduations may be the new normal with plenty of love and laughter, and no marbles. It was perfect.

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

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