Close your eyes for a moment and think of the word “holiday.” What comes to mind? Any particular memories that you think of right away? It is amazing how our senses, such as a certain smell or taste, can transport us and make us feel like we are reliving a situation all over again. While experiences can vary, many of us have these common associations with the holidays: gathering together with loved ones to share food and each other's company. Since these are often such integral parts of how we celebrate, the current holiday season is especially difficult for us as a result of COVID. Families have experienced loss and are separated by distance. Gatherings will be much smaller this year and technology will continue to be how we connect with loved ones.
While COVID has brought on unthinkable challenges, it has also caused us to stop and reflect. To appreciate time and prioritize what is most important to us. While the holidays will be different for us this year, we are different too. We are stronger and more resilient, and with this mindset, we can approach the holidays with hope. This holiday season here are some things to take into consideration:
1. Gratitude for Little Joys: It can be easy to be thankful during times in our lives that are going well. When situations are tough, expressing gratitude can be significantly more challenging. This is why during these times it is such an important practice. Being thankful for the little things that bring us joy can help us have a more positive holiday experience. Appreciating a pleasant walk, eating a favorite food, or reading a good book are just a few activities that we can be thankful for that we have the opportunity to experience.
2. Managing expectations: During the holiday season, it is important to try and not fall into the trap of comparing this year to previous years. This is like comparing apples to oranges. While still the same holiday, it likely is not the same experience for you and your family. By acknowledging this fact it will allow you to be more present in the moment and be open to the differences that this holiday will bring instead of wishing for things that occurred in the past.
3. Traditions with a twist: This year let’s enjoy the festivities on a much smaller scale. Instead of preparing a large meal, choose a few of your favorite dishes and consider purchasing food from a local small business. How about a virtual gift exchange followed by streaming a holiday movie (or two) with extended family! While you may not be able to gather together in the same place, you can still create lasting memories with loved ones. Traditions that are important to your family can still occur, just may need to occur with some modifications.
No matter where you are and who you are celebrating with this year, we hope that you enjoy this holiday season. Be thankful and be safe!