2020 has forced every single one of us to change plans, alter expectations and let go of things we never could have anticipated. When our lives were put on hold in March, most of us did not anticipate we would still be away from our families come the holidays.
For better or worse we have A LOT of emotional ties to the holiday season, often deeply rooted in long standing traditions that provide comfort in their predictability and connection to others/ourselves. So what can we do when we can already tell we are going to be let down?
Plan Ahead: We know what the parameters are for traveling and gathering this month. Sometimes we put off making plans because we are hoping things will change and we don't want to accept the reality of our situation. Instead, recognize that by now you know where you will be and who you will be with during your holiday and start planning accordingly.
Connect with Others: I know we all feel Zoomed out. But many of the Zoom Happy Hours and family reunions that kicked off the early months of the Pandemic have faded and there is novelty again in reconnecting. Can't be with your family in person? Do a virtual toast and express gratitude together. Know someone else who has been quarantined alone? Set up a time to connect with them online or for a walk outside.
Be Creative: This is the year to challenge some of your long standing traditions and come up with some of your own. Do you always eat ham because your dad always cooked ham? Do you even like ham? It's OK to do things your own way. (And if you LOVE his ham? Go back to tip #2. Maybe you can get a lesson over Zoom and make it for yourself).
Talk about it: You are not alone. These holidays are hard and made even harder by the expectations placed on them. Reach out to a friend, write about it in a journal or talk to a therapist. Feel your feelings and acknowledge what you are going through.
Honor those you are missing: Whether you have lost a loved one in 2020 or you are unable to physically be with the ones you love, you can feel their presence and honor them in any number of ways. Maybe turn on one of their favorite songs, cook a family recipe, or light a candle in someone's memory.
By managing expectations, planning ahead and being creative, it is possible to experience some peace and calm, in true spirit of the season.