Without a doubt, the majority of us will be happy to leave 2020 behind. As the holidays approach, we might still be navigating the mental, emotional, and physical ramifications we’ve experienced these past few months, as well as adjusting to a new “normal.” But if we keep our expectations flexible, 2020 could bring the best holiday season yet.
Stay Dedicated to Care and Connection
With all the upheaval of 2020, many people feel their “infrastructure has crumbled,” according to Kathleen Parrish, former director of clinical operations at Cottonwood Tucson. During the holiday season, continue to reach out to loved ones and friends, even if you do so differently than last year. This is vital to your well-being.
Parrish writes: “Whether we are helpers, healers, family, friends, we are human beings and we are responsible for one another. In the midst of this sweeping pandemic, we must be in the habit of connecting. Our responsibility to and support for one another is crucial, if we are to survive. Connection is a crucial anecdote for suffering, amid a time fraught with anxiety and loneliness.”
While some people are tired of virtual platforms, especially if they use them often for work or school, others are getting creative with the way they meet online. Shake things up with your family and friends by playing games over Zoom, Skype, Facebook Video Call, GrandPad, and various cell phone apps. While online interaction can never take the place of face-to-face connection, you can have fun with it in the interim.
Virtual Activities for the Holidays
Here are some interesting things to do with virtual friends and families during the holidays:
- Craft or hobby. Whether you knit, sew, crochet, make cards, or practice other hobbies, you can work on your projects while having a nice chat.
- Watch holiday movies. Turn on the Hallmark Channel and share the sloppy tears together! Traditional family favorites are easy to find on TV, DVD, or streaming, but whatever your rule is for talking during the movie still applies.
- Have a virtual sleepover. Everybody in their Christmas PJs! This is something weird-but-fun to do with friends and family members far away. Plan ahead to decide on games and snacks.
- Playing games. Online board game competitions such as Scrabble, Pictionary, trivia, and others have really taken off during the pandemic. Or you can go high-tech with an iPhone or iPad multiplayer app like GamePigeon.
- Bake holiday favorites. Each person agrees to choose a selection from the list of favorites and bake together during a virtual catch-up. Then, do a typical cookie exchange—but by mail!
Most importantly, it’s essential to acknowledge any anxiety or loneliness you experience during a time when other people seem to be enjoying the hustle and bustle. If you need extra support from the people closest to you for mental and emotional health, you’ll have to speak up. What might surprise you is not only that they understand how you feel, but that they also need your help.
Be Willing to Make New Memories
While we hope much of the uncertainty these past few months will soon be over, it’s natural to long for established holiday traditions that keep you grounded. Changes aren’t always easy, but acknowledge that you had the resilience to persevere through other challenging times and will do so again.
Curiosity and openness really help you do this. Rely on established daily routines and rituals to provide a foundation for each day…and then, create new memories! You might discover unexpected joys along the way. Here are some ideas:
- Call a relative to learn to make their signature dish. If you can’t go to Grandma, bring Grandma to you by arranging a tutorial for her special…whatever it is. Maybe you’ll make it the same way, maybe you won’t, but you’ll both enjoy that time together and laugh about it when you’re sitting next to each other again.
- Travel close instead of far. It’s still possible to take a road trip, so make it an adventure close to home with these tips from Arizona Foothills Magazine.
- Create a Thanksgiving meal around your favorite food. Let’s face it: there’s usually one dish that you go back to for seconds. Why not make that the centerpiece of your meal and plan other things around it? Unconventional? Sure!
- Plan an ornament exchange–like a cookie exchange, only with ornaments. Follow a theme, make them all 2020-related (dumpster fire costumes were popular during Halloween!), or do something personal.
- Volunteer. Whether you do this alone or with family and friends, it’s an important way to acknowledge how much you have to give. The value of your time, to paraphrase the Grinch, “Comes without ribbons! Comes without tags! Comes without packages, boxes, or bags!”
Maintaining Caution Due to COVID
As you plan your holiday, remember that many areas of the United States are still dealing with high COVID-19 rates, which aren’t expected to subside by the end of the year. In October 2020, the Arizona Department of Health reminded citizens “don’t let down your guard” as cases trended upward again, and encouraged everyone to continue following specific health guidelines in many aspects of daily life.
Nevertheless, people still want to travel or play party host in order to see family and friends as part of their holiday celebrations. Is it advisable to do this? Here are some resources to review before making holiday plans:
- Centers for Disease Control: Holiday Celebrations
- CNN: Seeing Family and Friends
- Arizona Public Research Group: Home Safe for the Holidays
It’s also important to remember that some members of your circle might not feel comfortable getting together yet. This doesn’t mean you have to be isolated—your celebrations just might require some adjustments.
Available to Spread Good Cheer or Provide Help
What are other people doing to celebrate the end of 2020? Pose that question on our Facebook page to learn what new ideas help you make the season bright.