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  • Jacqueline Siempelkamp

Staying Connected During the Holidays

It’s no surprise that the 2020 holiday season is much different than ones we’ve known in the past. The holidays are typically filled with quality time spent with friends and family, along with carrying out traditions we look forward to every year. It’s not to say that the holidays are not usually taxing—this time of year is often filled with stress, grief, and uncertainty for many. However, 2020 has added a new level of discouragement, pain, and tragedy that make it challenging to continue looking toward the light at the end of the tunnel. We may be feeling tired, isolated, and disconnected, but now is the time to reach for our loved ones and hold on tight.

Creating connection with others is such an integral part of functioning as a healthy human being. We feel connected when we can spend quality time with those we care about, when we hear words of affirmation, when we receive a hug or kind touch, when we perform acts of service, and when we receive or give something special to another. It might feel like a large feat to be able to express our love and engage in the connection we want during this holiday season. The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives and we must find new ways of celebrating this time of year. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, though. Let’s talk about some ideas to feel connected during this time in the world:

  • Modify traditions: Think about your favorite holiday traditions and pivot a little. It may feel impossible to execute traditions the exact same way we have before—and it might be. But that isn’t to say that we can’t adapt what we usually do to make it safe for the situation we are in. Examples could look like:

  • Decorate your living space: Put up those decorations even if you aren’t having gatherings in your home. Getting into the holiday spirit by changing your surroundings can help to brighten your mood. Share photos and videos with loved ones to see what everyone has going on, even if it’s not in person.

  • Cook traditional meals, snacks, and treats: Make the items you usually do each year and enjoy yourself or with others in your home. Another option would be to make some for others and deliver to friends’ and family’s doorsteps to enjoy together, but from a distance.

  • Gather virtually: Although we are forgoing the large gatherings in person, nothing says we can’t get together on video instead. While we might be “Zoomed out” by now, it can be a good option when gathering in the same space just isn’t possible. Switch it up by doing an activity together like a craft or playing a game. We can still create new memories with friends and family during this time.

  • Get outdoors: Similar to modifying our traditions, we can do some of our usual activities outside. Some ideas include breaking out the fire pit with a small group, walking or driving around the neighborhood to view lights, lighting the menorah outside, or picking out a fresh Christmas tree at a farm or lot. All of these activities can be engaged in with small groups of friends or family in our bubble and remind us we are still connected to one another.

  • Give back: Some say the holidays are a time for giving, and this year, especially, families need our help the most. Team up with family and friends to sponsor a family, or coordinate items to donate to a shelter or organization. Giving doesn’t have to be monetary—spend time writing cards or drawing pictures to send to nursing homes or hospitals. Kind words will mean a lot to people who cannot be with their families this year. Giving back to the community is another great way to feel connected.

This year has certainly been a trying time for all of us. Connecting to those we love is important, now more than ever. It may feel like we’re alone in this, but rest assured we are not. We are all getting through this together and are doing the best we can. Reach out to friends and family and connect with them this holiday season. They will be grateful we did – and so will we.

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