As if the holiday season was not stressful enough, now we must figure out how to have drama-free holidays during a pandemic (!). Holidays mean different things to different people. While some think it is really the best time of the year, others cringe at the thought of spending time with their extended family. I hear you all. I fall somewhere between “I love a hot cup of cocoa, nice Hallmark movie while snuggling with my cat/partner/blanket” and “Uggghh how am I going to find gifts for all these people?”. When we add the challenges and limitations of living in a pandemic era, it sounds like a recipe for disaster…
Or, maybe not, here are my tips for a stress-free holiday season:
1) Let’s make lemonade out of lemons this year.
You cannot fly to see your grandparents, who live a thousand miles away? Sucks, but turn that sadness into something creative. Handwrite them a poem or draw something and mail it to them. Make this time of year special for all of you, even when you cannot be physically together. What if you are not artistic (yup that’s me)? Then make them a photo album. What better gift for elderly family members than memories…?
2) Think outside the box
How about the family members who live close, but you still cannot get together for health reasons? Well, what if you were to send/drop off a small gift for 12 days, in honor of 12 Days of Christmas? How about working on a family carol that you can sing outside their house?
3) Do it safely
Let’s say you are determined to get together. Do it safely, do it wisely. This year may not be the year to get together with 30 people and eat and drink for hours in your mother’s living room. This year’s holiday motto is “simplicity”. Only visit a small number of family members, keep your visit short and follow the safety guidelines. Meet outside around the firepit and roast marshmallows instead of dining indoors.
4) Aim for connection, not perfection
We are all experiencing the “Pandemic Fatigue ”. We want our lives to be back to “normal”. We want our freedom back. Flash news! Our lives will be different forever, but we can adapt. We can aim for connection rather than perfection for this holiday season. No fancy dinner tables. No extravagant gifts. We all need a connection (virtual or otherwise). Reach out to family and friends via phone or Zoom. I can hear you say, “I do not want to be a burden.”. Guess what? You will not! They need you as much as you need them. Share a meme with a friend. Have virtual whine/wine nights ins with your girlfriends. To organize a watch party (Sling is offering one for members and the members can invite friends/family for free).
I feel like it is even slightly more challenging for men to connect these days. Most activities that bring you together are postponed or happening on a very limited basis. “What are we going to talk about if there is no football/baseball/basketball?” Well, maybe you can talk about your house projects, annoying coworker/s, or aspirations? Maybe the silver lining to all of this is that it is pushing us to connect in different ways.
5) Embrace the change and make the most of it
If you cannot travel this year to see extended family members, make the most of this experience with your nucleus family or small group of friends. Maybe try a new thanksgiving recipe with your kids or organize a family/friends ornament-making contest or a virtual gingerbread cookie house contest with friends. The options are endless…
Our lives have been changing so rapidly and drastically that most of us feel like we have little or no control over them anymore. Will the kids go back to school in person or not? Will I have a job next month or not? Will I see my family this holiday season or not?… Fighting with these changes in the name of controlling them is like trying to swim against the current. You will burn out, get frustrated and feel helpless. Instead, focus on what little you have today. Think of things that you can do. Surrender to the chaos and live in the moment.
This holiday season will not be the same as the previous ones. It will look vastly different. Maybe you are grieving for some family members that passed due to the Covid. Maybe you won’t see your family during the holidays for the first time. We cannot change the facts, but we can change the way we deal with them. How would you like to deal with them?
May your holiday season be connected, inspiring, and happy.