Celebrating with family is top of mind as we approach the end of this year and the start of a new year. It is a stress-filled time in any year, but with added concerns due to the pandemic, more advanced preparations might be in order.
Discussions about getting together within your immediate family can be started right away. Talk it over with your household, cover concerns that you may have. Is it already causing distress? If so, celebrating distantly can preserve your family relations. We all have beliefs, but safety is a basic survival need. Rather than continue a heated discussion, talk about how to share and celebrate differently.
Assume that health information will not be shared, even with family members. Concerns regarding poor outcomes if you get a COVID infection are well-founded even for healthy individuals, and anyone can be a carrier of the virus and not even be aware they are.
Let everyone make their decisions without judgment. Celebrations that encourage the participation of all family, in-person and distant, will be a testament to your family bond.
Uncomfortable with refusing an invitation? Don’t be, you have plans, share them. Sleeping in and snuggling with your pet? Well, that’s a plan, and what’s wrong with feeling safe and sharing your happiness? Make sure to convey your well wishes and thank others for thinking of you. No need to explain, it’s not selfish to care for yourself. Express your love for them and perhaps your plan for the day, and hope to join up in the future. Offer to join in from a distance on video, or text a picture to send well wishes. It’s not about the refusal of family or friends, it’s about your self-care.
Ideas for celebrating from afar include:
- Gift card show and tell – share what was purchased, or will be purchased
- Snap in time – everyone shares a picture at a certain day/hour
- Synchronous meal celebration, at the table on video
- All in greetings, video share a shout out of well wishes
- Sending a meal kit delivery or dessert for the celebratory day
- Virtual game or watch a movie together (let your kids help)
- Drive-by activities – light shows, care package deliveries
- Outdoor activities – skate, ski, marshmallow roast
Finances are also tight for most of us now, and budgeting is a struggle. Limiting gift purchases, especially from those with limited incomes (elderly) needs to be communicated to all family members. Perhaps flip it this year and provide care packages to the grandparents. It’s just another way to show your love and concern. Involve your children in the discussion and have them suggest ways to keep costs down and gift in other meaningful ways.
Reduce the stress of seasonal celebrations and know that caring for others starts with safety for yourself.