We’ve had a year that stole festivals, celebrations, reunions, weddings, and all the related joys of a normal course of life. Now, it’s time to think about the holidays. If all goes well, there may be a vaccine in place for COVID by the end of the year, and perhaps the pandemic itself may have entered a declining phase. That’s the “glass half full” version. The grimmer side is the pandemic may enter a renewed phase of active infection, which may send countries hurrying to close boundaries and keep populations indoors all over again.
So, how do you plan for the holidays? If there’s one thing you can be sure about right now, it’s that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah will look nothing like they have in the past. You may have to think twice about visiting Santa or even your family.
Many annual holiday events have been canceled. However, this doesn’t mean the holidays have been canceled altogether. It just means you have to be a bit more creative in making joyful and meaningful memories for you and your loved ones.
Plan for the holidays in a way that still promises some fun and quality time and doesn’t hinge on the mood of the pandemic. Here are a few ideas.
Meet up with those in your social bubble
During the “new normal” of social distancing, it may be kinder to family and friends to stay away and reach out virtually. Being together in spirit instead of being physically present, in the hope that many more holidays can be spent together, will be the essence of the holidays everywhere this year. Accepting this notion and keeping your family members prepared is the safest and most practical way to plan in 2020. Plan B, however, may be to schedule a special lunch with those you already interact with and keep the spirit of the holidays alive for all.
Travel short distances to safe locations
Your best bet? Camping! Head to a national park you’ve never visited or simply plan a road trip you’ve always aspired to take. Let physically distanced travel be the main consideration. You’ll be thankful you avoided the jostling crowds in airports and extended procedures in view of the pandemic.
Look for small, local events instead of heading to more crowded public spaces. Better still, plan your own fun nights in your backyard if you’re staying in. Bring in the biggest tree you’ve ever had. Make decorations at home as a family. Plan your own tree-lighting ceremony. It will be a DIY Christmas like none other! And the kids will remember it for a lifetime.
Gifts, gifts, gifts!
Now this is one aspect of Christmas and Hanukkah that no one can take away from you! The joy of giving and receiving gifts can and should go on as planned. The only thing to remember here is to plan early. Again, the shape of things to come in December is as yet unclear, and a huge rush could likely affect deliveries the closer it gets to the holidays. This may not be the year to wait for the best sales as stock levels aren’t as certain as they used to be. If there’s any particular gift item you’ve had your eye on, it’s better to nab it early.
Create a new family tradition
Do something in your neighborhood you’ve never done before. Maybe volunteer for a social service from home. Organize a food drive. Take the kids out to see the lights in the community. Attend church or temple. Do something deeply meaningful – it could just be the start of a beautiful new holiday tradition.
The wise thing to do is to make plans for the holidays that can’t be ruined by the temperaments of the virus. Plan for special, quiet, socially distanced, intimate nights in.
Whatever the holidays may bring, one thing that can’t be stolen is the spirit of the season. Just as we’ve adapted to what’s being called the “new normal,” we will also adapt to new ways to celebrate. With a little preparation, the holidays will continue to be as heartwarming as ever.
Lisa Alexander is a freelance writer