The Festive Season

After close to an entire year of staying close to home, if not actually in your home, it doesn’t look like we are going to be able to get out anytime soon. Usually, at this time of year, we’re planning for our festive season: family get-togethers, parties, or some way to celebrate the end of the year. Each of us have various holiday-related rituals that we expect to engage in, and it simply won’t be the same if we can’t. What that means is that we are tempted to say, “It’s just my family, how dangerous can that be?”


Everything that the experts say is that, especially now, we need to be even more careful about being around others, particularly for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you may be able to go outside your bubble carefully for some socially distanced festive season activities, but the rest of us have to figure out how to celebrate inside safely.

This is a real sacrifice for our kids. We want them to be around our families, getting to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, making all those holiday season memories that are so important. After all, that’s ideally what family is for. If you’re tempted, look at this report from this summer when people could get together outside. Where I live, there was a small wedding at a nearby resort that resulted in 24 cases of covid-19. True, most were in the family, but 5 members of the resort staff caught it as well, even though they thought they were being careful. That’s the point, this disease is very contagious, so being around others not in your bubble is not only not wise, it could be downright dangerous.

So what can you do to celebrate the festive season and keep in touch with family?

  1. Don’t travel, stay home. By next year, we should have much better ways of dealing with this disease, don’t take chances.
  2. Keep in touch with family and friends. If you can’t visit people, write letters – people now have the time to read those letters. Have your children illustrate messages for their grandparents by either drawing pictures or inserting photographs into a letter. Encourage your children who are old enough to figure out how to publish family newsletters using tools like Constant Contact or Mailchimp, complete with photographs or videos. On the important days, arrange for your entire family to meet together electronically via platforms like Zoom or Facetime. Your children can work with their cousins ahead of time to organize this.
  3. If your religion is an important part of this time, celebrate at home. Family services were an important part of daily life in years past, and we’ve gotten away from that. This will be a good time for you to help your children share in how you celebrate your faith.
  4. School plays will not happen this year, so see what you can do to make up for that. Have a sing-along; even if no one in your house plays an instrument, I feel sure you can find the music somewhere on the internet. Put on a play, challenge your children to write their own or to act out a favorite story. You can try putting on a pantomime where one person reads the story, and everyone else acts out the parts.
  5. Decorate your house a bit early this year. One suggestion to keep our spirits up has been to put up holiday decorations as a way to brighten up our lives. Children can, of course, be involved in the planning and execution of this, perhaps changing what you’ve done in the past. Encourage them to do a little research on how to decorate with materials that you already have. You now have time to make intricate paper snowflakes.
  6. Baking! Probably the best part of the holidays is the special foods that we associate with this time of year. When my son was little, we spent every Christmas eve afternoon baking cookies for Santa. He was allowed to invite a friend over to help, we made molasses cookies in appropriate shapes, and I let them paint decorative icing on the cookies, along with various sprinkles on top. The kitchen was a total wreck when they were finished, but each little boy had a plate of cookies which they could share with their family and still leave a few out that night for Santa. Several years ago, one of the boys who was invited to share told me doing that is still one of his favorite memories. My son agrees that baking is an important part of his celebration and he usually has a cookie bake with his friends in the several days before Christmas.
  7. Share with others. All that baking can be shared with your neighbors – do let them know that you are leaving goodies on their doorsteps, and make sure to use sanitizer, wear gloves, and mask up as you make goodies for the neighbors.  

Even if we can’t get together with our families this year for the festive season, we can celebrate this special time of year. Stay healthy, happy, and involved, but at a distance. Let us all hope that 2021 will be better. Remind your children that when they are old, they will be able to tell their grandchildren about what it was like in during the coronavirus pandemic year of 2020.