If thinking about the upcoming 2020 holiday season amidst a global pandemic makes you a little depressed, it might be time for a new perspective.
I do understand the reality of our present situation. Our inability to enjoy some of the annual traditions we look forward to year after year is so disappointing. Many of us have more devastating burdens of the heart, caring for sick or immunocompromised loved ones. Even when we aren’t facing a health crisis, the holidays can be a painful time for many people who are struggling and hurting. But despite all the challenges we are facing in our homes, our communities and our world at large, we might be able to find some comfort in a different kind of holiday season this year.
Christmas hosting has always been my jam. But after becoming a mom, and maybe you can relate, creating traditions around the holidays became even more important. I wanted family photos in matching outfits complete prior to Thanksgiving and a Christmas card to share with loved ones by December first. I wanted magical daily memories of the Elf on the Shelf, designer garland, a sparkling tree with carefully placed ornaments that we decorated together, and family all around throughout December. And, even though I live in sunny Arizona, I wanted to sip cocoa by the outdoor fire, bundled under plaid fleece with my girls in mid-December.
But the thing about all of these wishes is that someone has to create them. Magic doesn’t just happen, #AMIRIGHT fellow mammas? Someone wakes up earlier than the everyone else to make the magic.
For many of us the buzz of our alarm clock is like a starting pistol. We jump out of bed, race through our morning routine and fly out the door. Between commitments, tasks, appointments and chores, the average day can feel like a sprint. Now add to that a global pandemic, virtual schooling, social tensions and the looming holiday season. It is exhausting.
We are told and somehow, we believe, that the faster we go and the more we check off the December list, the more we are worth. But eventually, even in a normal year, this frenetic pace leaves us stressed, empty and with a deeply overwhelmed schedule and underwhelmed soul.
And the thing is, when we rush mindlessly, we absolutely fail to enjoy the process and the present moment. Reflect, with me, for a moment on the time-honored fable of the tortoise and the hare. While the hare sprinted quickly taking detours and sneering at the idea of losing the race, the tortoise took unhurried steps, respected his own boundaries and I imagine you have read this one to your littles ones enough times to go ahead and finish the story. We all know, the tortoise ultimately crosses the finish line well before the hare.
Sometimes by slowing down we go farther and maybe even more importantly a mindful pace allows us to savor each step along the journey. So, in that spirit and in honor of a relentless 2020 that has demanded we all sacrifice so much, I invite you to come with me on a slow journey of my top 7 ways to reclaim the magic and make the most out of the upcoming holiday season.
1.Enjoy the lull.
Take advantage of the imposed lack of community events and activities in 2020 and make it the less busy, more relaxed holiday at home you have always dreamed of. This might be the first year that come the 26th we don’t say, “where did December go!?” Our business coach recently told me that with any challenge you are facing, ask yourself, “How might this serve me well?” How might less busyness serve you and your family well? What do you need more of this holiday season now that you have fewer parties, errands, travel plans, etc. to worry about?
2. Bake away.
While you are spending more time at home (and maybe eating out less, too) try some new holiday dinner recipes that may become an annual tradition. Do more holiday baking. Share your treats with friends and family. Bring your kids into the kitchen with you. Yes, it will be messier and go slower. That’s the point. Even if they are young there are plenty of kid-friendly kitchen tools and responsibilities you can give them. For ideas, tips and inspiration visit: https://stepstoolchef.com/
3. Start a NEW at-home tradition and one that will be special for years to come.
There are a few that are special to me like the Last Gift tradition. Since gift giving is one of my favorite parts of Christmas (I’ll admit it!), it sometimes feels a little sad when the last present is opened on Christmas morning and there are no more special surprises to unwrap. So I always select the most special gift of all and save it for Christmas night. When we finally get home from our Christmas gathering and all the Christmas joy is coming to an end, my husband and girls each have one last gift one their pillow.
4. Holiday mapping:
Sit down as a family and map out all of December. Make a family holiday calendar to make sure everything gets fit in. Make a bucket list for example: “make cookies with kids,” “Watch Elf” “Buy Christmas tree” “Look through old Christmas photos” etc. and pencil it into the calendar to ensure it actually happens.
5. Indulge in a social media detox.
No matter where you stand on the many controversial topics of the day, one thing is for sure, there are plenty of dissenting opinions often yelling at one another on social media these days. Commit to (and find an accountability partner) a 7- or 10-day social media detox. Use that time to spend more time in-person with the people that you love.
6. Take part in a December challenge.
Unplug for a set time each day. Set a 1- or 2-hour time window that everyone puts their smart phones in a basket. Silence them and do not touch for your agreed upon amount of time.
7. This holiday season check in regularly with your pace.
Find a meditation or heart pace app and honestly pay attention to your physiological responses to each day. If you feel a rushed tension, slow your breath, tuck into your closet for a moment of self-reflection or self-care and quiet your thoughts.
I think we all hope and pray that next year we will be able to return to bigger and more communal celebrations and traditions. Every parent I know hopes that COVID is a small and distant memory for our children in the years to come and that we can all get back to the business of being families, neighbors, friends and ultimately connected again.
While things may have to be slower and smaller this year, there are silver linings in the extra white space on your calendars. I urge you to embrace it. Bring full awareness to the pleasure of whatever you find yourself doing. Be where your feet are. Throw a baseball, wrap a gift, bake some cookies, watch a movie, talk over a meal, embrace December slowly with your loved ones.