When it comes to the holidays this year, we all have different family views, beliefs, and ways of doing things. During the year of ongoing quarantines due to the pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for families to agree on whether not and how they may get together.
This has been a huge culture shift for many Americans, and for many families, traditions around the holiday season are welcomed as a time for peace and stability, or a much needed break from the routine stresses of our daily lives. This is often a time when families travel from far and wide to gather together.
I also want to acknowledge the painful grief triggers the holidays often promote, for those who have lost loved ones. Not everyone has grown up with warm and fond holiday traditions, and may experience painful memories. For individuals who have experienced grief and loss, they may be getting a double dose of holiday blues this year.
However, I would like to be able to focus on some thoughts of hope around the 2020 topsy-turvy holiday season. Since we must radically accept (as Marsha Linehan coined in DBT) that the holidays will be different this year, there are still ways that we can celebrate and encourage some holiday cheer.
1. Select a charitable organization and make something or donate to a cause you are passionate about. Tis the season for giving, and while we may not be able to volunteer for the soup kitchen this year, you can also find charities online.
2. Spend an entire day baking with the family. This is an especially valuable activity if you have kids. Children love to be involved in the process of baking, and of course, eating the treats!
3. Watch a marathon of holiday movies on streaming. With so many to choose from, and so many options for streaming these days, you are sure to find some heartwarming favorites. Get in your pjs and cozy up on the couch with fluffy blankets and some Carmel corn.
4. Go to the snow. Or the beach. Or a park with lots of trees. Find a quiet place to enjoy winter’s natural beauty. Or break out the sled and the ice skates.
5. Rest with a warm cup of hot chocolate (yes, with the marshmallows!). And if you don’t like cocoa, make another fun warm holiday drink, ie. spiced cider.
6. Make dates with friends and family members, either to talk on the phone, or in small intimate settings. You don’t need to see your loved ones on just one day this year.
7. Write holiday cards or even old fashioned letters. Surprise your long distance pals with a sweet note, or a rant on 2020…
8. Do a Secret Santa gift exchange by mail. Yes, you may use an online distributing company, or you can do it the old-fashioned way, buy a gift, wrap it yourself and send it in a box by US Post.
9. Listen to Christmas music, or anti-Christmas music…whatever makes you happy.
10. Decorate a tree, or a plant, or a bush. Or buy a nice flower. Aesthetics go a long way toward inviting some holiday cheer.
Ok, so it may still be a difficult holiday season. Holiday seasons are often stressful regardless of concerns about a global pandemic. However, if we choose to make the most of what is, we may find a change or break from the usual traditions can bring some happiness and peace, as well.