The holiday season can be filled with expectations of cheer, fellowship, and traditions. However, with the rising cases of positive COVID-19 cases across the nation, we face a holiday season that may be very different then what we really want or hope to have. Fret not, you can still pivot toward a meaningful season with your family and loved ones. Here are 3 tips to help you make the best decisions for a fulfilling holiday season.
Get informed. Public information and understanding of COVID-19 can change rapidly. Rumors and misinformation may pop up in conversations with family, friends, coworkers, etc. To make the best decisions possible for you and your loved ones, seek out the most up-to-date information possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Infectious Disease Society of America provide information about COVID-19 as well as guidelines and recommendations regarding risk levels for different social activities.
- CDC’s Considerations for Daily Activities and Going Out
- CDC’s FAQs about COVID-19
- IDSA’s Tips for Thanksgiving
- IDSA COVID-19 Information and Safety Resources
- IDSA Level of Risk for Activities
Additionally, if you are considering traveling, call airline/bus/train companies to learn more about their COVID-19 protocols/practices. Look up information on airport or bus/train terminal websites to learn more about safety measures they have in place for travelers. While it may be convenient to ask another’s opinion or “follow the crowd”, accessing information for yourself can be empowering for you to develop your holiday plans.
Decide your boundaries for safety. Using your best wisdom (i.e., up-to-date COVID-19 information + logic + awareness of emotion/emotional needs) begin to identify what activities (i.e., traveling, cooking together, sharing a meal, hiking, joining virtual celebration, etc.), practices (i.e., handshakes/hugs, wearing a mask, wearing a face-shield, washing hands frequently, using hand sanitizer, etc.), and places (i.e., sports arenas, malls, family living/dining room, lounge, movie theater, gym, etc.) are safe for you. For example, you may choose to attend an event that explicitly states the number of people expected in attendance or decide only to attend events that are hosted outdoors. You may also give yourself permission to attend events and wear a mask for the duration of the event, even when others around you are not. In the same circumstances, you can choose to leave events (yes, even family meals or gatherings) if you do not feel safe. The bottom line is that you get to choose your boundary for safety. You do not need to defend it or prove you are right. In the same way, you do not need to convince or persuade others to practice safety the same way you do. Simply state your reason, if you would like, and allow others to make their own choices. Whatever your decision, communicating it to your loved ones or friends may help increase the likelihood your needs, wants, and wishes are taken seriously or accepted.
Soften your expectations. Customs, beliefs, and practices around the Holidays are often deeply rooted, passed down from generation to generation. Whether those traditions are going out to a buffet on the holiday itself or religious ceremonies that require close proximity to loved ones and others, they are important to us. This year may prove difficult to fully engage in those treasured activities. Here is where flexibility may allow you to be fully present in the moment and not lamenting the picture in your head about what should be.
Become consciously aware of the expectations you have for yourself and others during this holiday season. You may notice that some of the traditions are in direct conflict with your plan to be safe. Instead of siding with one extreme or the other (i.e., abandon all traditions and isolate yourself from everyone or forgo any safety boundaries to maintain traditions), find the middle path. The middle path may be creating new traditions, not necessarily to replace what has been, but perhaps to add a bit of a remix. Co-create this remix with your family and/or families of choice.
When all is said and done, we are in a new normal for this holiday season. Fighting (i.e., denying) this reality may only increase suffering and misery. Approaching this season with flexibility and present moment focus, as well as having a plan to maintain your health and wellness, allows for new opportunities for living and loving as we manage through this time.
May you be happy.
May you be safe.
May you be loved.
May you live with ease.