It’s the stuff that makes good movies – the protagonists overcoming obstacles of all kinds to reach their goal of being home for the holidays. They take planes, trains and automobiles to get home in time for dinner. Sometimes, the obstacles are too great, and Christmas is celebrated in company of strangers, in the most circumspect places like airport terminals, or inns offering shelter and people who did not know each other become new friends.
The pressure to attend family events isn’t new. But during a global pandemic — with COVID-19 cases starting to rise again, and public health officials urging us to keep up safe practices of social distancing, there’s a lot of risk still attached to doing our normal traditions again this year.
Getting together to celebrate Christmas has been hard-wired into our brains since the day Jesus was born and shepherds and kings travelled distances to come celebrate in company of others.
However, it may be time to have the hard conversation we have been dreading. The large gathering we have been planning may not be happening. Many of us anticipated this outcome and already scaled back traditional Christmas gatherings, shifting our minds to a new way of doing. For some that is a little more difficult, because so much emotion is tied to being home with family and friends for Christmas.
If you can let go of what of what all the past events and activities has defined as being your Christmas, chances are you will be able to embrace a new version of Christmas, and possibly discover that Christmas2.0 offers a less burdensome, and equally enjoyable time.
Letting go is the process of freeing yourself from obsessing thoughts and unhappy feelings. This might seem difficult to do, but with some training and practice, it becomes possible. Here are a few of my tips:
- Strive to be more aware of your thoughts – and change them if you can. Remind yourself that people are still in your life, even if they may not be present, and that your love for each other has not changed.
- Shift your attention to positive thoughts – consider all the blessing in your life and be grateful that you have your health, that you have loving friends and family, that you have a comfortable home.
- Strive to be more aware of your feelings and emotions – identify what you are feeling and consider why that is. You may discover interesting things about yourself.
- Don’t dwell on the past.
- Make peace with the situation. It is what it is. Being frustrated, resentful or angry will only make you miserable, so accept it.
- Don’t take things personally. If someone is not feeling comfortable coming to your home for a gathering, it’s not personal. The best way you can honour your relationship is to respect each other’s needs and feelings.
“The mood is right, the spirit’s up. We’re here tonight, and that’s enough. Simply having a wonderful Christmas time.”– Paul McCartney, “Wonderful Christmas Time”
Great! Now that we have let go, let’s start looking at how we can still embrace the festive season and the joy what it brings at a safe social distance. Some of the great things that have come out of this pandemic has been the creativity and community of people. Let’s enjoy more of that.
For starters, celebrating the holidays outdoors can be done safely and is likely safer than indoor activities. Here are some ideas to add to the ones you may be considering:
- Throw a christmas picnic. Get out the patio furniture, move things around in the garage and take the party outdoors.
- Drive or walk around your neighbourhood and wave at your neighbours.
- Bring your own hot chocolate and schedule a couple of porch visits with friends
- Drop off some food or a gift to your friends and family, without making contact.
If celebrating indoors, keep the gathering small and observe these tips
- Bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.
- Create a Mask and Sanitizer Station
- Make it a shorter gathering time. Gather together for dessert or appetizers
- Decorate your home with the holiday spirit.
- Dress up and host a meal with the people who live with you.
- Watch virtual parties or celebrations.
- Order Out and Support your Local Restaurants
- Create a special playlist and exchange it with other
8 mood-boosting things to do if you are spending Christmas alone
- Focus on the things you enjoy.
- Connect with others virtually.
- Remember, you don’t have to celebrate.
- Stay off social media.
- Go for a long walk.
- Treat yourself.
- Write a goals list for 2022.
As Dolly Parton sings in her song Hard Candy Christmas, it will be fine and dandy!