For most of us, at least some holiday traditions are on pause this year. Even though one study showed that 40% of Americans said they’d attend a Thanksgiving of more than 10 people, 60% of us didn’t. And many people in that 60% missed at least someone, if not multiple someones they hold dear.
Having to choose between family togetherness and the safety of the people we most treasure is yet another heavy hit from the pandemic. But, as we learned with Halloween, new constraints, even ones that weigh heavy on our hearts, can force us to focus on the parts of a holiday that truly matter. They can even inspire new, lasting traditions.
“But out of limitations comes creativity” —Debbie Allen
If you aren’t able to get together safely outdoors with the people you love this year, here are some easy, last-minute ways to connect, even from a distance.
Send Holiday Nature Art:
Go outdoors and gather sprigs of pine, sticks, leaves, berries and other treasures. Grab some paper and glue and welcome kids to create holiday nature collages. Wrap them up in newspaper or tissue paper, then send them off to far away family members to add to their holiday decorations. Seeing natural objects calm both the artist and the recipient, and getting anything hand made by kids will warm a family member's heart and make them feel loved and even more connected, even when you are apart.
Flood Your Family Feed with Love:
On the holiday, kick off a flood of love with the family and friends you most hold dear. You can focus on gratitude for one another and all that you do have, even though you are missing one another and likely some of your favorite traditions. Start by sending a group text that reads something like this:
“Hello, all! We want to start a chain of gratitude, sharing with each other all we are grateful for. We’ll kick it off, and then you can reply with what you are thankful for to help keep the chain going!”
Then, follow up with a text that includes quotes from you and your kids about what you’re most grateful for. Include text, videos or photos knowing each one will boost the spirits of everyone on the chain.
You can also ask everyone to share photos of family foods or holiday rituals as they experience the throughout the day to keep your favorite traditions top of mind. This can be especially supportive of elder members of the family who can't be with you in person this year.
If you are careful about where and how you share photos of your kiddos, try a group text or other social platform like these.
Send "Love You" Videos:
Film yourself and your kids talking about what you love most about someone special in your life. Asking kids what they love most about or why they are thankful for a Nana, an uncle, or a dear friend can inspire some of the sweetest footage—footage that will brighten that person’s day and become a treasured memory for all involved. It can help to prep little kids before you start to film by saying things like, “What are all of the special things Mimi does for us?” Or “What are some things we love most about Mimi?”
Get Together Online:
In the midst of all of this, we are awfully lucky to have technology that allows us to come together virtually, bridging distances and viruses. It’s amazing, really. Get family and friends you’re missing on a video conference platform, and share some joy. Embrace the challenges and do your best to help the less tech savvy, remembering that it’s really all about seeing one another and being together on the screen.
Introduce one of the following ideas to help give a little structure, especially if you have a crowd!
- Share Nature Treasures: Encourage everyone to go for a walk and bring in a wintery nature treasure to share. This is especially fun if family members live in different parts of the country or the world.
- Holiday Riddles: Gather and print out some holiday riddles and welcome everyone to guess at the answers. If your video conference platform has break out rooms, split your crowd up into teams and welcome each team to try to answer the riddles in small groups, then come back together.
- Holiday Sing (and Dance) Along: If your family has favorite songs, play them and dance or sing them out, even if the audio is wonky. If the sound is just too rough, let the host stream a favorite song and just enjoy seeing everyone sing and dance along while muted.
However you celebrate, we wish you a season full of peace and love.