Holidays can be a time of stress any year, but this holiday season is just icing on the top of 2020. As of writing this piece in late November 2020, we don’t know exactly what the December holidays will look like for COVID-19 and group gatherings. A lot will depend on how people handled Thanksgiving, whether or not we heeded warnings to keep those gatherings small, outdoors and masked. Either way, many families are concerned about how to handle the December holidays with mixed households, those traveling from out of state, and who have elderly or immunocompromised relatives.
How different will the holidays be in 2020, and how can you discuss this with the kids in your life?
By now, your kids, even the babies, know that 2020 has been a different year, schools going in and out – some not going back at all yet – sports canceled or postponed, birthday parties over Zoom or drive-by tailgates. Talk to your children now about how to make the holiday season special; what can you do to make this year stand out in a positive way?
The Child Mind Institute recommends that you make plans now and start discussing them with your family sooner rather than later, giving everyone more time to feel comfortable with them. Kids need routine and predictability, so sharing the plan early is key. Allow them to ask questions and offer their own suggestions.
Brainstorm fun ideas you can do at home with your kids, like baking a new cookie recipe, writing letters to relatives you won’t see this year or going on a Christmas light scavenger hunt in the neighborhood. The ideas can turn into annual traditions! Talk to your kids about what they’ve enjoyed about the season in the past and try to incorporate those favorites in a way you deem safest for your family. While we may have Zoom fatigue, consider entertaining ways to incorporate cousins and grandparents who live out of state. Maybe you could have a gingerbread house making contest or read children’s books together on Christmas Eve.
We recommend that you and your family, at least those in your home, come to an understood compromise, in early December. Tell everyone that yes, this year will be different, but it can still be special, memorable, and somewhat traditional even if you only celebrate with those who live in your house.
Brittany Farrar is the regional director of Middle Tennessee programs and Tennessee Specialized Crisis Services for Youth Villages. Crisis services are still available 24/7 if your child needs support. Youth Villages is available and prepared to assist your family during the time. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. Visit CDC or Child Mind Institute for more resources.