post contributed by Jenna
This is a very different holiday season. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has advised us all to only spend the winter holidays with the people that live in our household, as travel can increase the risk of getting and spreading the coronavirus.
There's no way to really sugar coat it (except maybe with cookies): this sucks. Most of us love seeing family and friends during the holidays and partaking in our normal traditions. I know I do! I love spending Christmas Eve seeing Santa Claus played by the volunteer firefighters in my neighboring town.* I love baking with my mom and opening gifts together and seeing everyone's reactions to gifts: from the fake "I love it" to the teary-eyed sentimental look.
However, just because we can't spend the holidays in-person with all of our loved ones doesn't mean that we can't remain connected.
Here are some ideas for you to stay in touch throughout the holidays and beyond!
There are an abundance of free apps now, from FaceTime for iPhone users to Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet. All of them are great (free!) platforms that can allow you to have a mini reunion and celebrate the holidays all together from far apart. You can do everything from opening gifts together to having the kids sing carols or having the grandparents read one of their favorite holiday stories. And while you're at it, schedule a toast (with fake bubbly for the underage or non-drinkers). We all deserve to celebrate what we've made it through this year.
There are so many virtual games that you can play with people anywhere in the world. Some of our favorites are Pictionary (through Sketchful), Settlers of Catan (through Colonist), Among Us, and Jackbox Games.
Virtual Movies and TV
If your holiday traditions include watching movies together, you can still do that! Netflix created Teleparty so that you can watch together. You can also plan to watch a movie that starts on TV at the same time and text or call throughout - almost like you're watching together.
Share a Meal
Do you have a tradition of cooking for the holidays? Make those recipes while 'cooking together' over video chat! Is there a particular cuisine that you always order in? Order from your favorite local takeout place and video chat over dinner. Of course it's not the same, but the lag time while taking a bite of your favorite food is guaranteed to provide a few laughs.
These are only a few ideas to stay connected - and they aren't necessary, either. If you want to take this time to spend the holidays with just the members of your household or alone, that's okay too! It's been a wild year: just remember to plan ahead and be prepared to take care of yourself. Don't push yourself beyond your own boundaries.
We know how hard 2020 has been. We know when the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, that doesn't mean it's suddenly going to get easier. But we can all find ways to stay connected and take care of ourselves.
If you're struggling this holiday season, please do not hesitate to reach out to the many crisis lines that exist for this exact purpose! There are so, so many people that want to help you. You do not need to be afraid to call or text.
*The man that has played Santa Claus for many, many years in my life is currently in need of a kidney transplant. Could you be the one to help?