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How to Have a Happy Holiday (in a Pandemic)

This year, the pandemic will add a new dimension to the yearly mix of joy and stress around the holidays. As a caregiver of an ailing loved one, worries about Covid-19 can make even the simplest Thanksgiving meal feel like a minefield

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Image © Mayohealthclinic.org
Image © Mayohealthclinic.org

The holidays can be a time of family, festivity, and fun. For some, they may also create loneliness and money struggles. 

This year, the pandemic will add a new dimension to the yearly mix of joy and stress.

As a caregiver of an ailing loved one, worries about Covid-19 can make even the simplest Thanksgiving meal feel like a minefield. It’s become common knowledge that health issues intensify a person’s likelihood of hospitalization from the disease, and now the flu will be added to the mix. 

In addition, it’s estimated that one of the biggest methods of transmission in the U.S. right now is within the members of individual homes, so meeting with any family members who don’t live with you can be dangerous. 

Because of the current high level of spread of the coronavirus, the holidays are bound to be different this year. Many treasured rituals of years past may be canceled, such as annual holiday parties, Santa Claus appearances at the mall, and pageants or special services at the local church or temple. Even little gatherings to make cookies with grandchildren may be worth skipping this year, depending on how the disease is spreading in your community.

So what can you do to have a fun holiday? Here are some tips and ideas.

1) Go Online

Set a time for your family to call into Zoom or Google Hangouts, and connect online. If you like football, watch the Thanksgiving game during the call or make cookies virtually with your grandkids. If you normally have a family dominoes tournament, play an online version together that allows people to join from multiple cities. Maybe pick a special time in the meal for the call, such as during dessert, and let each person share something for which they feel thankful. While this might seem like a poor substitute for the hugs and connection of a normal holiday event, there are also some benefits. Far-flung family, who can’t normally attend, will be able to join you. If relatives are too ill to travel, they won’t have to even drive across town. In addition, you can spend some time with both sets of in-laws by scheduling two calls. And, no one needs to worry that they’ll infect grandma accidentally.

2) If You Must Gather, Follow the Guidelines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a long list of recommendations  to make holiday gatherings safer, although online festivities are still safest. Some guidelines are typical for all interactions with others right now: wear a snug two-layer mask over your nose and chin, stay six feet apart, and wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer. Flu shots are recommended. In addition, if eating is involved, it’s advisable to bring your own food, use disposable plates and utensils, eat outdoors, limit the number of guests, and use single-use condiment packages, instead of jars of salad dressing, for example.

3) Get Creative

If you are choosing the safest course and staying in your own households, have fun with it. Perhaps some family members might enjoy a recipe exchange. Or maybe everyone could send cards to open on the special day. If family lives close by, instead of gathering together, each family could make extra of a favorite dish and drop it off on the porch of each family member for a contact-less delivery. If kids are part of the festivities, maybe drop off or send a few small toys that provide some unexpected fun. 

4) Think of Others

If you have anything to spare, consider sharing with the homeless or friends who may have lost work. Maybe instead of having a holiday get-together, this holiday season could be a time to let go of an unused coat or cook a meal to drop off with some nearby folks who have no place to stay. You might find that these gifts may be the best part of your holiday season, so give it a try, you’ll be surprised at the wonderful people you meet and how good it feels to share. 

However you spend the holidays, enjoy them. Take the time to tell the people in your life that you love them and appreciate them. You’re lucky to have them, and they’re lucky to have you.

Article by Kathi Koll © 2020

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