In just a few days it will be Christmas Eve, and just like a few weeks ago when you were contemplating your Thanksgiving celebrations, you are now faced with the decision of what to do this holiday. It is challenging to know what to do to protect family and friends and discouraging to realize another tradition seems to be in the path of the wrecking ball called 2020.
Whether it is COVID lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions, mask wearing, hospitalization or death of loved ones, or economic hardships preventing typical celebrations, one thing is for sure, this holiday will be different.
So how can we keep the holiday spirit alive under such pressure and fear. Here are seven suggestions to turn a Blue Christmas BRIGHT:
Keep up with traditions - if you typically put a Christmas Tree up every year, you may think what is the point if no one is going to gather and celebrate. It is even more important during these uncertain times to add as much "normalcy" back into your experience. So decorate the tree. Pull out all your holiday decorations and put them up, you may be surprised by the joy they bring.
Keep an open mind - flexibility and expectations are going to be key this holiday season. It is so much better adjusting our expectations and marveling at things that do go right or work out than being disappointed at what we miss out on.
Keep an eye on the big picture - it was challenging when we decided to not visit family and leave a few elderly loved ones on their own for Thanksgiving this year. One of the ways that helped us justify this decision was to say "it's just a day." And Christmas too, although very important in our faith, is still "just a day." We attach meaning to the date. So that means, once COVID restrictions ease and we are ahead of this virus, we can have a celebration for all that was missed this season. I am thinking Christmas in July has a nice ring to it!
Keep an attitude of gratitude - it may not seem like it, but we are pretty blessed to be living at this time and place. Recognizing all that we do have can help us tolerate what we will be missing this coming holiday. It is equally encouraging to look back on this year and recognized the blessings from this worldwide phenomenon. What did you learn about yourself? How did you grow? What silver linings/blessings can you see as you look back on this year?
Keep a spirit of giving - this year is in no short supply of organizations, families and individuals who are in need of help this year. Who do you know that could use a hand up this holiday season? Even clearing out closets and pantries of items we are no longer using can be a great way to give to those in need.
Keep focusing on connecting with others - individuals are suffering in greater numbers this year. To help combat the feelings of isolation, you may need to be intentional in reaching out to others. Connection is critical as we navigate our worries and fears this season.
Keep up with your own self care - whatever brings you joy or satisfaction, now is the time to double your efforts at filling your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Some suggestions include prayer, meditation, exercise, leisure activities, and spending time (even if it is by Zoom) with friends.
More Strategies To Turn A Blue Christmas BRIGHT!
Thankfulness and expressing gratitude have been shown to have mental, physical and spiritual benefits if practiced regularly. Here are some starting ideas:
Begin a daily gratitude practice. Each day identify five things/people/events that you are thankful for. I find writing them down in a Gratitude Journal is helpful. Each day try to come up with five new ones and not simply repeating what you wrote down the day before.
From the list of items you are thankful for, choose one to expand on by journaling about why you are thankful for the item. Try to write at least two paragraphs.
Consider taking a gratitude walk. While walking notice things that you are grateful for that you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
It is the season of giving and just like expressing gratitude, the act of giving has been shown to increase a giver's mood. Here are some starting ideas:
Have you found yourself clearing out closets in 2020? instead of throwing items away, consider donating to local charities that service the poor and those finding hardship during this season.
Many organizations depend on faithful donors to meet the needs of those they serve. Consider an additional financial donation to a cause that is near and dear to you or a loved one.
Consider giving food items or a monetary donation to your local food banks. Because of the restrictions imposed by the COVID lockdowns, many individuals are for the first time finding themselves in need of utilizing the local food pantry.
Suggested Journal Prompts
Expressing your feelings in a tangible or creative way is very beneficial. Here are some suggestions:
(1) Write about your favorite Christmas memory in a journal.
(2) Gather your family and friends and brainstorm new holiday traditions to try this year.
(3) Consider reaching out to those who are alone this Christmas and then write about that experience.
A friendly reminder that this post is educational and not therapeutic. If you are finding it increasingly difficult to function during this season, please reach out to a trusted therapist for individual care.
"White Christmas" 1954 Bing Crosby & Danny Kaye
From my home to yours, may you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!