Can you believe it? It’s almost the end of the year! We can soon wipe the slate clean and start over.
Not exactly. The craziness may very well continue into 2021. In fact, by the time you read this, Election Day will have just passed. No matter what the outcome, many people will be ecstatic, and many will be devastated.
No one knows how the rest of the year is going to go, but the holidays were made to get us through the cold, dark winter right? Halloween seems to have been a success despite the circumstances. Many of us put on our costumes, came up with creative ways to make it special for the kids, and made an effort not to let the current situation block us from celebrating under the full moon.
Still, holidays bring a lot of stress in addition to the joy, add to that the pandemic and the aftermath of a highly anticipated election, it may take extra effort to maintain the status quo of the most wonderful time of the year.
Addicted to E-commerce
If you want to maintain social distancing and avoid the holiday crowds, know that you aren’t the only one with this idea. Expect longer than usual delivery times and out-of-stock items if you’re going to do your shopping online. People this year are so hungry for the holiday spirit, many Christmas items are already being sold out.
As far as gifts go, consider talking to your friends and family about exchanging homemade gifts or even having no gifts at all. Create an Acts of Service coupon book for loved ones with helpful offerings like making a meal, taking their car to get an oil change, free babysitting, or cleaning their house. These are things that are much appreciated and often overlooked as gifts.
Start a new tradition with your friends and family that takes the attention away from gifts and is much more meaningful.
Keep the Family Close (or Not)
It’s difficult to know whether social distancing restrictions are going to be lenient or become more strict as the weather gets colder and flu season approaches. While you may be dreaming of a non-Zoom Christmas, it’s very possible that traveling to see loved ones may be limited. Ultimately you will have to decide in your network whether it’s okay to gather or safer to not. If you do decide to get together make sure you stay as safe as possible. Here are the CDC’s current recommendations on holiday gatherings.
Decide with your people, ahead of time, how much physical contact you will have (to hug or not to hug?) so that it’s not awkward when you see loved ones you haven’t seen in a while.
If being with your family is not your favorite thing, it’s okay with me if you use social distancing as an excuse to avoid seeing them. For many people, the holidays are laden with drama and they can’t get out of seeing their family. Like the time my friend’s sister became livid when she found out there was gelatin in the pumpkin pie that she fed to her vegan child, and a huge blowout erupted in the middle of the dinner table.
Or the time that my racist grandfather (bless his soul) got drunk and expressed his negative feelings towards Mexicans right after my brother was introducing his new girlfriend, who happened to be Mexican. Yikes. If you know you have that one relative who is probably going to upset you, make a plan to play defense. You can’t do anything about that person’s behavior but you can take care of yourself. If leaning on that bottle of Henny is what’s going to get you through the night, be my guest, but there are other things you can do to keep those toxic vibes to a minimum.
Stay aware of repeating topics that push your buttons whenever family gets together. Whether it’s aunt Opal asking when you’re going to have kids or Dad making snide comments about how your career isn’t going as he’d hoped. Pay attention to your body’s signals. What are the sensations that indicate you are being triggered? Maybe your heart starts to race or you hold your breath. You might feel a pit in your stomach or a lump in your throat. Your face might flush or you feel a tightness in your chest. Whatever it is, take it as a cue to excuse yourself and go to the “restroom” or “answer an important work call.” Don’t feel like you have to defend your life choices to others. It’s most likely not useful and could end up escalating the situation. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed in a social setting I often run to the store and pick up something random like an extra bottle of wine. I ask the hosts if they need anything and they usually do, so my escape plan looks very inconspicuous.
And You Fly Solo
If you are typically alone for the holidays but always get invited somewhere, let’s acknowledge how much this year sucks. Let’s also appreciate that if you’re an introvert then you won’t have to deal with the pressure to make an appearance anywhere, and you won’t have to deal with any drama (see above). For those who need to be around people, you can distract yourself in several ways. Treat yourself to an extravagant holiday. Order a fancy meal, book yourself a spa day or massage somewhere open during quarantine. Splurge on a really nice gift for yourself. Find a virtual event and make some new friends. Donate your time to charity. If you’re worried about catching germs, check out one of these virtual events instead.
Money, That’s What You Want
One of the biggest all time stressors during the holidays is money, and there’s often high expectations for the holidays to be memorable. Remember that it’s not about the gifts and the glamour, it’s about relaxing and connecting with people we love. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to make it special, just come up with a budget that feels comfortable and stick to it. If you’re hosting a gathering, potluck style is always fun. You get to taste different types of cooking and you don’t have to do very much work, which leaves more time to kick back and have fun. If feeding people is your love language but you find yourself in the negative cash flow, you can cook up a feast for under $50 and there’s no law that says you have to have turkey. Just buy a chicken and tell everyone it’s baby turkey. It’ll be our little secret.
As mentioned before, homemade gifts are always nice, and they don’t have to be laborious. If you’re candle-obsessed like me, you know there’s always that last bit of wax that falls below the wick and can’t be relit once the wick has burned down. You can make homemade wax melts out of this, and who couldn’t use some extra bath salts for an evening of self-care? If DIY is really not your thing, talk to your friends and family about doing a Secret Santa this year or get everyone to agree on delaying gifts until January so you can take advantage of all the post holiday sales. You could also forgo gifts altogether and plan to save money for a family vacation in summer of 2021.
The Christmas tree is a huge deal for many people. If you buy a fresh tree every year consider making a tree alternative. I have a friend who makes a tree out random objects every year. Once she used Yogi Tea bags, another time she used books stacked in a tree shape. Each time her tree was special and unique. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
I do want to acknowledge anyone who has lost a loved one, been affected by illness, or has had an exceptionally rough time this year. I don’t know that these suggestions will be useful to you at all but maybe, just maybe, one of these ideas can offer you a moment’s relief from the pain that this year has brought us.
Photo credits in order of appearance:
Photo by Anthony Tran at https://unsplash.com/s/photos/anthony-tran