How COVID-19 is Changing the Face of Christmas in 2020


There’s an old song that says “There’s no place like home for the holidays” - and this year, in the era of COVID-19, many of us will think of that song in a very different way forever more - home for the holidays, for many, used to be defined as where you spent some, most or all of our childhood; where our parents or grandparents live; often where many of our extended family members still live.   This year, everything has been changed, and home has become our own "four walls” per se - and many will be choosing to stay within those walls throughout the holiday season.

While we all yearn for the hugs of family and friends; for the celebrations; for the parties, the food, the laughter; the travel; many feel it is an act of true love to keep safety measures in place for as long as it takes; that a little sacrifice now will go a long way later.  It is difficult, and it will be hard - and for some, there will be a holiday slump - but please read on below for some great ideas to brighten up the holidays!

 

Stuck in a Holiday Season Slump?  Why not try some of the great ideas below!

  • Hop in the car, crank up the Christmas music, and take a drive around to check out local holiday light displays.

  • Get outdoors: Go sledding or ice skating, or take a wintry walk or hike. Remember to stay masked and distanced!

  • Exchange gifts with loved ones via mail or contactless drop-offs — bonus points if you purchase items from small, independent businesses!

  • Savour the season by testing out some cozy recipes. I recommend starting with some easy and delicious Crock Pot mulled apple cider and a pie or two.

  • Whip up some holiday cookies or treats for an exchange with friends. Be sure to coordinate contactless drop-offs/pick-ups.

  • Engage in self-care: Grab a book and a mug of your favorite holiday beverage, then get cozy by the fire (or turn on the fireplace channel on your TV).

  • Challenge your kids (or yourself!) to build the coolest pillow fort ever, then enjoy a holiday movie marathon from inside.

  • Get crafty: Host a virtual paint and sip event with your friends or create handmade gifts or holiday cards for loved ones.

  • Reach out to local food banks, shelters, and community organizations to see how you can safely serve your neighbors in need.

  • Settle down for a long winter’s nap. Seriously. You’re probably dealing with COVID-19 fatigue, and your brain deserves a break.

 

Here are some ways to celebrate with family and friends - while following guidelines, if you choose - 

  • If you live close to family, organize a meal exchange; each household can make and drop off a different dish with a quick, distanced hello outside the front door. If you’re spread out, swap recipes ahead of time so everyone can enjoy grandma’s famous stuffing. Make a shared Spotify playlist, and encourage everyone to don their comfiest PJs. To enjoy the experience of a communal meal, have each household set up a Zoom call on the TV at dinner time. Fill your plate and settle down for a special holiday twist on the traditional festive dinner.
  • For outdoor gatherings - if you live in an area that is warm enough to do so, or if you are hardy enough to give it a try - keep the guest list small, and have each household bring their own food rather than setting out a buffet. Turn up the music, set up a game of (masked) horseshoes, lawn darts, have a snowman building contest or build forts and have a snowball fight!   If it gets chilly, just bundle up! Bonus points if you can safely enjoy a campfire.

    Avoiding in-person gatherings with those outside your household is still the safest option, with the advantage that virtual gatherings can include more people from more places. Stay connected with faraway family virtually throughout the week, perhaps by opening Advent calendars together each day, or adding more decorations to your home or tree each day, etc.

  • While it is strongly suggested that all unnecessary travel be cancelled, try to focus on the positive - you won’t need to deal with long security lines, spend hours waiting on the tarmac, or worry about hotel cleanliness this year! Send presents in the mail or via courier ahead of time, then open them as a family on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning via video call. Have everyone wear their ugliest Christmas sweater, or share each household’s gingerbread creations on the call for some friendly competition. Don’t forget to enjoy some eggnog while you totally crush your siblings in a few rounds of  traditional family games!
  • This isn’t the year for a handful of family members to gather in a nursing home resident’s room with containers full of holiday treats and goodies - many residences already have limits and protocols in place. To share the spirit of celebration without risking an in-person visit, ask staff if they could help make sure that miniature tree you got for your loved one is set up in their suite/room, along with any other Christmas decorations they may have, maybe send a Christmas arrangement or wreath. Many facilities have phones and tablets for residents to use, so set up times throughout the week to sing, recite blessings, and celebrate over a call or video. If the facility does allow in-person visits due to exceptional circumstances, consider going one at a time throughout the week, always following all visitation rules and precautions — though, again, it is safest to avoid in-person visits, even if they are allowed.
  • If you live alone there are safe ways to get together with friends, but it does take advance planning - think one family, and keep to that one family.  Ensure you all share the same principles regarding masks, sanitizing, distancing and keeping your bubbles small.  Plan a meal that is more individual servings than buffet style; bring your own beverages, openers, etc.  

While Christmas this year for many of us will be different, it is possible for it to be memorable, to share the love, to make great memories,  We're in a very difficult time - think of it as an opportunity to put family and friends first, be creative with our celebrations, enjoy and appreciate the good things we have - in short, to perhaps, once again, understand what Christmas is about.

Christmas can still be the "most wonderful time of the year" if we have a great mindset about how to make it that way.  From our family at Butcher Box.ca, happy holidays, season's greetings and Merry Christmas!