COVID and the Holidays

Updated: Feb 16, 2021

If we can make the most of what we have and keep a commitment to staying safe with love in our hearts, then we can not only manage the holidays this year but we may even experience one of the most profoundly meaningful holiday seasons ever.

This upcoming holiday season presents new and unique challenges for all of us as the COVID pandemic continues. This year will require changes in traditions and possibly limited or even canceled holiday gatherings. To manage the holiday season this year with COVID, it's important to understand how to cope with the changes and feelings of loss as well as learn how to navigate the logistics for everyone’s health and well-being. In addition, we can also use this as an opportunity to redefine or even define what is meaningful and sacred during this holiday season. With this kind of planning and insight, not only will we better be able to manage the stress of the holidays but we may even experience true joy and peace.

1. Accept the Reality

The first thing I recommend is to accept that the holidays are going to look different. We don’t have to like it and in fact, most of us will find these changes to be incredibly difficult. However, the more we fight the changes the more upset we become. If we stay stuck fighting the reality of the limits and restrictions of the pandemic then we stay angry, bitter, or disappointed. We may miss the opportunity to experience the joy, love, and gratefulness that is the spirit of the season. If we can accept these changes then we can allow ourselves the opportunity to explore new ways of honoring what is truly important to us during the holidays.

2. Give Yourself Permission to Grieve

The second way to manage the holidays is to permit yourself to grieve these changes. For many of us, the holidays are one of the very few opportunities we have to be with our loved ones and friends in which we are together under joyful circumstances. We may have fond memories of visiting with old friends the night before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving dinner with large, extended families, Christmas morning with the family gathered around the Christmas tree or celebrating New Year's Eve out on the town. For many of us, we are grieving the loss of making those memories this year. These traditions are important rituals and when we unable to do those we feel a sense of loss. We grieve for those traditions because they bring us a sense of comfort, familiarity, and connect us with others. We especially long for them in this time of chaos and uncertainty. but we need to remind ourselves that this is only temporary these are not permanent changes. These traditions will not be lost forever; this pandemic will not last forever and most likely by next winter, we can return to our favorite rituals and holiday traditions.

3. Manage Family Expectations

Perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of managing this holiday season is managing family expectations by setting limits and boundaries. When communicating with your family, it's important to express your decision and needs while not trying to persuade the other person to do something that they're not comfortable doing. If can remember that everyone is feeling a sense of loss then we can draw on our empathy and love for our loved ones so that we can truly hear and understand their pain in this situation. We must remember that each person and family unit must decide under which situations they feel safe and what they comfortable doing knowing the risks involved. If you know that you will not be attending a family gathering that is being hosted by a relative or friend, perhaps the best thing to do would be to communicate with that individual as soon as possible so they can begin to process their feelings of loss and to make any necessary changes