Written by Emily Phan, LMFT
Conversations about the Coronavirus have interrupted and infiltrated our lives. At times, it seems as though out of nowhere we have become consumed by this virus that is continuing to affect our daily interactions, plans and thought processes. With the holidays around the corner, the uncertainty of how the Coronavirus will alter traditions and plans has been a looming concern for many people. The desire for many to stay as responsible as possible while also wanting to hold on to family traditions through the holidays can be an overwhelming experience. Gathering together with loved ones can be a joyous tradition for families. For some families, the holidays may be the only time each year to spend with loved ones from afar who all travel back “home”. This year the holiday season may have to look different given the risks of the Coronavirus.
New waves of shutdowns are beginning to happen again across the country. New mandates may occur and the options for celebrating under typical traditional expectations may be taken away for the overall safety of the community. This may be the time to challenge your perspectives, to begin reconsidering traditions and to think outside of the box in creating new experiences. Given the uncertainty and the feelings of being out of control when it comes to making plans, it is helpful to focus on what is certain and what is within your control. There is certainty in relationships and in the celebration. The meal you choose to make is within your control. Re-creating traditions by asking for a family recipe and attempting to make it in your home can create a sense of connecting with family even if you are not able to be with them.
Look for silver linings instead of solely being preoccupied with the negatives. A socially distanced holiday is possible. Instead of sitting around the fireplace, you could try sitting around a campfire. Using technology to stay connected may not replace face to face interactions but it can be a substitute while living in a pandemic. Focus on the goal of connection instead of getting stuck in the inability to do everything the way that you normally do. Remember other exceptions from the past, times when someone was ill and unable to attend or away and unable to travel. In those times, the holiday was most likely not ruined, it was simply different and while family may have been missed, the absence was probably understood.
Making the decision to shift all of your holiday plans to a smaller scale may not be easy to communicate with family. Remember the importance of sharing your intentions, it is not that you do not want to spend the holidays with family but rather that you are taking caution to keep everyone safe. Being safe and keeping family safe and healthy communicates love when expressed with care. The holidays will look different this year but they can still be meaningful. Wishing you a peaceful and safe holiday season!