The upcoming 2020 holidays are likely to be far different than your past Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa celebrations. The pandemic not only severely limits our ability to gather together, but also has had a profound impact on the health and finances of many. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the country is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. Small, household gatherings are being named as one of the primary causes, and experts warn that the increase in cases will continue as temperatures drop, people spend more time indoors, flu season arrives and the holiday season approaches. Not very hopeful predictions for the holiday season ahead!
For so many, holidays can be a solitary time even before the added burden of Covid risks. This can be a fearful, lonely and trying time for many. So how can we make the holidays celebratory, and inclusive and less anxiety-provoking?
Set Guidelines for Gatherings with Compassion:
If your family is considering in-person holiday celebrations, it is important to recognize there are different ways people are managing pandemic life. Try to keep that in mind and approach family members from a place of empathy and compassion. Stress manifests in a variety of behaviors. Don’t assume that everyone's going to behave the same way and adhere to the same social distancing guidelines. Discuss plans and logistics ahead of time and come to some consensus around shared expectations of behavior and safety. Try to see the underlying values and emotions that are involved in everyones’ decisions.
Start a Gratitude Practice:
1. Journal: From now until Thanksgiving, you and your child (ren) can begin a gratitude journal - writing or drawing a picture of something you are grateful for each day. Try to be specific – the more attention paid to the details, the more you will appreciate the positive things in daily life.
2. Write or draw personal holiday cards. Especially If your child is sad about not being with a family member or friend this holiday season, channeling those emotions into writing or art can be therapeutic, as well as providing a wonderful gift for the recipient.
3. Make ‘Thank You’ calls: Make a list of people who’ve done something wonderful. Then set aside time to call and express your gratitude, personally.
4. Send virtual care packages. Send photos and cheerful video clips that will liven up another person’s day
5. Decorate the front yard with thank-you signs. Remember to honor the essential workers, teachers and other heroes, with signs and cards on your windows or yard. Take a walk around your neighborhood leaving painted rocks or small posters with messages that inspire gratitude. See #KindnessRocksProject
6. Cook a delicious meal with your family - something new for everyone. Perhaps try a vata inspired recipe for the Fall. Here is a suggestion for a yummy dish of Lemon Rice, with Cashews, Peas, Ghee, and Cumin. Or read our blog on nourishing vata inspired foods here.
Find a Way to Give Back:
Reach out to organizations to learn ways to help and give back in a way that’s safe during COVID-19. Get your kids involved by asking them what they care about? When you include your child(ren) in the plans, and ask them about the causes that matter to them, they have a venue to respond, get excited, and participate. Find out about local shelters that may have programs for food delivery, or items of clothing. Make plenty of a yummy vata inspired dishes to share. Many accept toys as well: get your children invested and have them thoughtfully pick out toys they themselves really like, and teach them to donate. Activities and gifts in kind, more so than donations of money, are ways to include the whole family in the act of giving.
Here is a list of Food Pantries in Miami Dade County - just give one a call and see if you can drop off a meal (ask about their covid-19 protocols)! Otherwise, make it a project to research a pantry/shelter, with your kids. Find places you can share the love, food, and spirit of the holidays.
Food Rescue USA is another great organization that you may be able to get involved in:
But Celebrate Wisely:
It is important to continue to pay close attention to the recommendations for personal safety precautions.The CDC warns: in-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk based on the location and duration of the gathering, number of people in attendance, behaviors of attendees, and other important factors. In general, the more people from different households at a gathering, the closer the physical interactions are, and the longer the interactions last, the greater the risk that someone who has COVID-19 — with or without symptoms — may spread it to others.
If your family does decide to celebrate together, the CDC offers 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.