Coronavirus cases have continued to remain low and controlled in Australia. But as we move into the winter months, many people are beginning to wonder just what Christmas with Covid-19 will look like this year.
Will you be allowed the family round for Christmas? How about the beloved Boxing Day walk? Will you be able to travel, or will you be celebrating over Zoom? It’s the question everyone’s asking. What will our Christmas look like in Australia now the nation’s coronavirus situation has continued to remain low and controlled?
A lot has been very different this year. Many of us have missed out on some big milestones and events in life due to coronavirus. Christmas with Covid-19 will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together.
Like most of the other festivals which have taken place in the shadow of the pandemic, Christmas will of course happen as usual. And while Covid might not stop you from putting up your tree, tucking into your turkey dinner, watching those festive movies or listening to Merry Christmas Everybody on a never-ending loop, there are other aspects of the festive season which will almost certainly feel the impact.
The pandemic is now part of our everyday life. Meaning, normal things like simply gathering in a big group may not be possible. But the holidays don’t need to be canceled or minimized.
Here’s how can we stay connected this festive season whether we are near or far?
Traditionally, the holiday season is a time of gathering together and celebration. Like most things this year, the holiday season will be marked by the coronavirus pandemic. For you and your family, it may feel like one more disappointment at the end of a long, challenging year. This year will be different because of COVID-19. However, there are some things you can do to lower your risk while you celebrate this Christmas with covid-19.
Create new traditions
This Christmas with covid-19 is an opportunity to start new traditions and think creatively. Talk with your children and extended friends and family about new ways to make this holiday season special, and how to stay connected, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Some ideas she suggests include:
- Take turns hosting mini holiday celebrations. Spread out your holiday celebrations with several short, online celebrations. For example, one family could host a time to sing holiday songs. Another could host a dance party. And finally, another could host a time for storytelling or prayer. Plug your mobile device into your TV or put your computer at the end of the table to “share across the miles.” Order dessert for yourself and long-distance loved ones, and savor each bite together.
- Send each other care packages. Send your favorite holiday treats, special mementoes, or small gifts and open them together over Zoom or Facetime. It’s okay if you can’t exchange gifts in person. Sending meaningful gifts to friends and family overseas is the next best thing. The packages don’t need to be big or expensive, but are a tangible way to reach out and tell each other we care. A flower delivery is a beautiful and classic way to show you care, no matter who it is.
- Work together on a shared project. Start a crafting chain for a holiday-related project and share with other families or friends. You could make a holiday ornament or treat, and send it to another family, and then have them add to it and send to the next house. Or you could make a holiday decoration for one household, they can make one for the next family, and so on. Collectively working on a project can help us feel closer to one another when we’re physically apart.
- Take your family game traditions online. Taking time zones into consideration, schedule a day in the week where the entire family or friend group gathers on a video call for a chat. There’s no excuse with technology – children, parents, grandparents and the rest can see one another and be a part of each other’s lives, no matter the distance. Engage your family and friends in a little festive-friendly competition to get everyone’s adrenaline pumping and keep the holiday boredom at bay. You can choose to play any game online in real-time, from board to trivia buffs, suitable for all ages. The games usually even have a chat feature, so you can gloat when you make a smart move. It gives everyone something nice to look forward to.
- Document what you’re doing. Whether you’re creating new traditions or celebrating in the ways you always have, keep a journal or take photos or videos to document this years’ experience. Though things will be different for most people this year, it could be really special to look back years from now and remember this time.
- Surprise Them with Flowers. You can’t go wrong with a classic delivery of fresh flowers. Receiving a bouquets will convey the message that they’re appreciated, even from afar. It is even more fitting to send them a bunch to celebrate Christmas. It’s these small gestures that go a long way to combat feelings of isolation. This year, gift them some festive joy as a token of appreciation and another year working together.
The holidays are traditionally a time to come together with loved ones. For those who look forward to celebrating, this year might feel particularly hard. Before the event, talk with your immediate family about the precautions and expectations for gatherings to ensure everyone’s safety. If extended family or friends will be included at in-person celebrations, have an honest conversation to understand potential exposure that others may have and make mindful decisions to reduce risk. This may mean writing a simple text message or email.
If your family does decide to celebrate together, the CDC has offered several tips for hosting and attending holiday gatherings with a few key recommendations:
- Host or attend outdoor (rather than indoor) activities.
- Limit the size of gatherings — check local guidance about the number of households allowed to gather.
- Encourage all in attendance to practice safety precautions — wear face coverings, maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from people you don’t live with, and wash hands or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol often — both during the gathering and in the 14 days prior to gathering.
- Avoid shaking hands, hugging and other close contact.
- Refrain from singing, loud talking or shouting.
- Avoid potluck-style gatherings and instead encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks for members of their household.
The CDC also notes that people who are at high-risk of severe COVID-19 or flu illness, such as older adults or those with medical conditions, should not attend any in-person holiday celebrations. The same advice also applies to people who live with or spend time with high-risk individuals and people who feel sick; have been diagnosed with or are showing symptoms of COVID-19; or have recently been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
Focus on what you can do
Whatever holidays your family celebrates, it’s important to focus on the rituals you can continue to do together. Rather than focusing on what you can’t do this year.
Think about which holiday rituals are most meaningful to you. Then, come up with some ideas for how to continue those traditions in a new way. For example, if your extended family is used to gathering together for a meal, plan a meal over Zoom or FaceTime. Have everyone prepare the same meal, or just one special or favorite dish, so it’s truly a shared experience.
Other rituals you can recreate include getting together online for Thanksgiving to share what you’re thankful for. Or if you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas, plan a time to light your menorah or kinara candles together, or set up a time to simultaneously decorate or light up your Christmas trees.
If you’ll be skipping a flight to grandma’s house this year, try cueing up a video on YouTube that simulates a flight. The idea is to think about recreating what you’re used to doing in a way that’s safer during the pandemic but still allows you to create special memories.
Understanding the holiday blues
The holiday season can trigger depression for a number a reasons. This Christmas with covid-19, you may not be able to make it home for the holidays, or you may be in a rough financial situation. If you’re going through a difficult time, it can be tough to see others with extra joy in their lives.
Seasonal depression is more common than you may think. These blues can be especially overwhelming during a time of change. Christmas and New Year’s Eve often present challenging demands, from never-ending parties to family obligations. These events can come with higher levels of stress.
If you’re dealing with feelings of stress or depression, know that you aren’t alone. Reach out to anyone close to you. It can be a friend or family member. Be open to new traditions, get more sleep, limit alcohol or even join online baking/cooking classes.
For many people, the holiday season and large family gatherings also come with a certain amount of stress.
It is therefore important to remember that this year has been hard. This might be an opportunity to scale down and focus on the parts of the holiday that are most meaningful to you. Give yourself permission to take it easy this year. Instead, focus on staying connected and staying safe.
This holiday season, consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe. Family and friends, near or far, conjure up different feelings for everyone during this time. So it’s safe to say a lot of us might feel very emotional, particularly after the year we’ve all had. However, just because they can’t join us at the dinner table doesn’t mean we can’t stay in touch and spread love.
This Christmas with Covid-19, we may have to rethink how we celebrate the holidays. With a little creativity, we can capture our holiday traditions and the feeling of the togetherness. It’ll be different, but we can still relax, recharge, and spend time connecting with our loved ones.
- Wear a face mask properly.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Get a flu vaccination.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Stay home if you are not feeling well.
Too long to read….
How are you planning to get the family together this year?
This Christmas with Covid-19 will definitely be different. Traditionally, the holiday season is a time of gathering together and celebration. Simply gathering in a big group may not be possible. But the holidays don’t need to be canceled or minimized. There are different ways you can do to lower your risk while you celebrate.
In case you intend to get together with your family, how can you do it safely?
If your family does decide to celebrate together, the CDC has offered several tips for hosting and attending holiday gatherings. We have discussed a few key recommendations that you can follow to enjoy your holiday.