The holiday season traditionally evokes a nostalgic warmth that’s unmatched by any other time in the year. It’s when we give thanks for those that mean the most to us, recognize our blessings and relax as we settle into the last days of the year.
As COVID-19 began to hit our collective awareness early this year, many of us – myself included – never anticipated we’d be in a position where we’d be seriously considering staying home for the holidays. It wasn’t that I didn’t pay attention to the growing crisis. It was more that in my bones I believed that nothing – not even COVID-19 – could disrupt the cozy dependability of Christmastime and the downright sanctity of having Aunt Mary’s famous cheesy potato casserole on Christmas Day.
But here, some nine months later, many of us have made – or are making – the difficult decision to forego a large holiday gathering this year. For me, any sadness at not seeing extended family has been replaced with the quiet resolve that not gathering this year is keeping them safe, and that we’ll soon be able to get together when we can hug and chat without worry.
If you are choosing to keep holiday celebrations small this year, there are plenty of ways to make it extra special. Here are just a few ideas we’ll be using in our own family:
- Give to those in need, or to frontline workers. Donate to a charity that helps those struggling in these hard times, or give to an organization that supports frontline workers. Let them know you value what they do and are thinking of them this holiday.
- Video chat with family. By now, we’re all pretty much pros at this. But this time, have fun with it: hold an ugly sweater competition or try playing charades or Pictionary via Zoom.
- Watch a holiday movie marathon. Holiday movies are one my very favorite things about the season (my family favorites are “Arthur Christmas” and “Home Alone”).
- Bake holiday cookies. Having never successfully made a sugar cookie in my life, I’ve always stood in awe of people who can. Make this year the one where you master that cookie recipe or finally figure out how to decorate with royal icing.
- Make a favorite family recipe. Try recreating a favorite dish in your family (like Aunt Mary’s cheesy potato casserole).
- Plan a fun trip for when it’s safe to do so. Brainstorm travel ideas with your family for when you can all get together again. Not only is this a fun topic of discussion, it also means that once it’s safe to gather again, you’ll be a step ahead.
- Take some much-needed “me time” to close out the year. Let’s be honest with ourselves: this year has been really hard. Each of us deserves some time for ourselves, to do things that are special to us individually. Set aside time to do things that makes you happy to recharge for the year ahead.
However you choose to celebrate the season, keep in mind that one of the greatest gifts we have is our health. Remember: wear a mask, avoid crowds and wash your hands. And have yourself a healthy little Christmas.
Written by Betsey H., Valley Children's Marketing Communications team member