Today, we are halfway through the last month of 2020. Normally, this is a time of year when I take a few days off, enjoy the holiday lights in town, and do a little last-minute shopping so I can see all the many Santas with little ones on their laps…
BUT, 2020 is a different year. In many, many ways.
So, how do we celebrate the holiday season without inviting friends and family over or going to visit them? How do we shop locally without leaving our homes? How do we access and FEEL all the happy, sad, and funny moments that normally come along with this season?
We think outside the box.
Truly, think about it for a moment – do we still keep the traditions that our grandparents held dear? Or our great grandparents? Probably some, but not all. Over the years we’ve added our own. We’ve changed holiday patterns to accommodate children who grew up and started lives on the other side of the country, or who are doctors, nurses, and other emergency personnel who are not always available for holidays. A lot has changed in the last 100 years.
So, let’s take advantage of some of the technological advances available to us today that our grandparents didn’t have. Facetime, Zoom, Marco Polo, WhatsApp, and more, offer ways to both speak and see family members no matter where we are. WhatsApp is a free program where you can talk and text and facetime with family members in another country – without cost!
Here are a couple of things I’m doing this year that may work for you as well.
I’ve been teaching for many years now, in different locations, and each year as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and other end of year holidays approach, we pick a day to have a little party after class. Everyone brings something to share, I bring both tea and wine for people to choose. We talk and laugh and enjoy each other’s company, and we share what we’re doing with our family, etc. This year, with COVID-19 here, we can’t do that in person. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still get together after our Zoom class! I’ve asked everyone to have something special for themselves to eat; a treat that they can tell us where to get or a recipe to share. And as a BONUS this year we can all have wine if we want as none of us will be driving anywhere! I plan to cheer in 2021 and intend that it’s a good year for all! A peaceful year for us all! A healthy year for us all!
We will enjoy our time together and make the day special in our own way. And we can do that with our family as well. Plan an evening when, as a family, we can get together via Zoom and share a new holiday recipe, the cute antics of the newest family member, or fondly remember other family members long gone. I had an aunt who, in her later years, filled her purse with food from her plate at the table to enjoy later. Cookies, turkey, mashed potatoes – everything went right into that purse… She thought no one saw, and we let her do her own thing as she’d lived well into her 90’s and was enjoying her life. She is someone that my children and I remember fondly each year, and we share a laugh at her antics. That memory leads into the way that each of us got rid of the food we didn’t like as children. Brother David filled his socks, Loretta put food in her pockets… We laugh and enjoy those memories.
Many assisted living villages will set up a Zoom meeting for a loved one so that they can participate in the celebration as well; check with the facility your loved one is in! I recently attended a Zoom family gathering with my last remaining aunt and it was great to see and chat with her. She enjoyed reading some of her holiday cards to us all.
Think outside the box. This epidemic offers a chance to make a new tradition or start a new ritual to enjoy the season. Let’s do that, and refrain from feeling sorry for ourselves or that we’re missing out. Make the effort to get together through technology and you won’t be sorry!
One tradition that my brother Pat and I have shared for many years is hunting in the woods for our Christmas tree. As kids, we just went into the woods (on our own property) and cut one. As grownups, we’ve been going to a local tree farm and searching out the perfect tree. Then we would come to my house for dinner and an overnight visit.
This year, Ned and I went to the tree farm while my brother and his wife hunted in a different tree lot, near where they live. We took pictures and video and sent them back and forth, had dinner in our own homes, and then took more photos when we were decorating the tree and shared those. It was different, yes, but still shared fun…
Our local food pantry did some thinking outside the box as well, and this year they asked us to bring a bag with all the ingredients for our favorite holiday recipe, staple the recipe to the outside of the bag, and if eggs and or milk were needed, the pantry would add those at the last minute so that people can all enjoy sharing a special treat. The bags will be set up on a table when people come to pick up their food and they can choose the one they want to make as their special treat with the rest of the foodstuffs they receive. What a fabulous idea!
So, do some “outside the box” thinking on what would be fun for you and your family and then make a new plan. You’ll find that you not only feel better about celebrating, but also perhaps discover a tradition that you’ll keep in future years!
To help you find more joy this season, below is a guided meditation on joy – Enjoy!
Enjoy a Healthy, Happy, Holiday season!