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This Year’s Holidays are Going to be Different

by Dr. Rebecca Klott

Nothing about this year has been normal. We’ve spent over eight months of 2020 grappling with a virus that many don’t understand and have received confusing and inconsistent messages about how we should handle life with it. Some of us have lost our jobs. Some of us have been ill. Some of us have lost loved ones. All of us have been in a constant state of uncertainty.

As we move into this holiday season, we are faced with another “not normal.” Many of us will not be with the people we love and have to celebrate differently. Our traditions are being upended. These changes feel difficult. We just want things to go back to normal.

During these challenging times, we are being stretched into learning and using new ways of coping. We’re growing in ways we never imagined or wanted. Here are a couple of ideas you can use. None of them will make this all great, or even necessarily good, but some of them may help you find your way through this very unusual holiday season.

Practice Mindfulness and Consider Meaning. This year is the perfect year to take the holidays slowly and not get caught up in the non-stop go-go-go that often happens. Spend time reflecting on what is important to you about this time of year. Mindfully study each bulb on your tree or the decorations in your house. Consider where you got these objects? What is the story behind each one? Reflect on your family’s traditions, how they started, and what they mean to you. Write a letter to your future self about the meaning of this season.

Swap recipes and stories with loved ones. Recently, I watched a video of a grandmother teaching her family members how to make soup. In the video, she told stories about how her grandmother taught her, funny stories about when she tried to teach her children to cook, and what she cooked the first night she was married to her now deceased husband. This year, maybe you could ask your loved one to teach you how to make that favorite dish you’ve been having for years. Maybe even record the lesson.

Talk on the telephone. This may sound strange, as we now have so many video platform options. Why use the telephone?

Of course, you can use Zoom or FaceTime if you aren’t video’d out, but many of us have spent so much of our time looking at screens all day, that the idea of spending more time looking at another one feels difficult. Talking on the telephone can be a nice change, and it allows you to relax and just talk instead of being conscious of being on screen. No need to do your hair! But, don’t multi-task. Be present to the conversation. Laugh and/or cry together.

Accept that things won’t be the same. This is a hard one, I know, but it can also be a freeing one. When we come to terms with how things are, or aren’t, we can create something new. This year has been different in every way, and the holiday season is no exception. So, know that it won’t be the same and seek the new. Breath it in and let it go.

The year 2020 hasn’t gone the way any of us imagined it would back on New Year’s Eve 2019, and many of our coping strategies have been stretched thin. Yet, we have the opportunity to experience this holiday season with fresh eyes. We hope that some of these ideas will help you through these difficult times and that you will share some of your coping ideas with others in your life.

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