How to Reclaim the 2020 Holidays If Things are Different

I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a few tears over this post. At some point in March, I remember making an off-handed joke about what we should do if COVID was still around during Christmas. That feels so short-sighted now, but we didn’t know. We didn’t know how long this would last. We didn’t know how deeply it would impact the world. We didn’t know how hard this was going to land at our front door.

Just this week, our immediate family made a decision. No Thanksgiving. And, delay Christmas a week to try to create some quarantine space from the school days. To say this is a departure from normal is a drastic understatement. We are an all-up-in-it kind of family. As many days together as possible, as much time together as possible, get sick of one another kind of family. Except, not this year. This year I will make the turkey dance in the sink for only my children. I will not wake up on Christmas Eve in my Mother’s home. I will not repeat “get down from there” incessantly to my nephew. The good, the hard, the predictable — it will all be different. I am about to know a holiday season that looks different from any I’ve ever known

…and that’s okay.

In the coming weeks, families all over the world will seek to make the decisions that are right for their situations. For some, these decisions will be easy or remain unchanged. But for others, putting tradition and family in a bowl with health and life will be very difficult to stir. No matter what circumstances you are facing, here are some thoughts that may help that mix a little easier.

Tips for Reclaiming the 2020 Holidays If Things are Different

  • Stay Present. Making a decision about the 2020 holidays does not mean you are making a decision about all holidays forever. It can feel very threatening to do something different this time around, as though that will change things in the future. If this is plaguing you, remember, you are just making changes for now. Don’t let future worries trip up your present enjoyment.
  • Keep Perspective. This is not the first time people have switched up their holiday celebrations. As we consider both World Wars, the Great Depression, or that one Christmas I had the flu, we all have to be flexible sometimes. Situational circumstances, both big and small, sometimes change our plans. People throughout history have managed to have meaningful holidays under less than ideal conditions. We can too.
  • Look for Opportunities. That turkey dance I mentioned earlier? It goes back at least four generations. I remember my Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, and Mother doing it. Someday, it will be my tradition to continue so why not embrace a practice round now? If you want to continue a family tradition on your own, do it! And, if you want to start something new, now may be the time for that too. When things change we can either focus on what’s missing or we can look for what can be. Operating from scarcity rarely brings joy. Operating from abundance does.
  • Grieve. As upbeat as these tips may sound, I do want to acknowledge the losses of this year. For some, we have quite literally lost people to COVID or other illnesses. This may be our first holiday without a certain grandparent, parent or friend. For others, the choices we make this holiday means we will miss out on moments and traditions we love. The people we love. The hugs we wanted. It’s okay to have tears of sadness and joy in the same day. I plan to have both. We can grieve and celebrate at the same time.
  • Keep the End Goal in Mind. I saved this one for last because I think it matters the most. I don’t care what you do for the holidays. Truly. See each other, or don’t. But, keep the big picture in mind. No matter what you decide to do, try your best to preserve your relationships. There is almost a guarantee that people will have different opinions on what “should” be done. Whether your family gets together for 2020 is secondary to whether you make it through 2020 still wanting to see each other in 2021. Be kind, be understanding. Try your level best to make it through with your relationships intact. This year has had enough loss already.

Okay folks, here’s to the 2020 holiday season, whatever in the world that means. I pray that it is full of beautiful memories, even if they are different than what you’ve seen before. I pray that you are overwhelmed by the beauty that can come from the unexpected. And, I pray that your hearts, eyes, and hands are open to possibility. May the end of 2020 somehow be the gift we never saw coming.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash, used with permission

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