As if 2020 hasn’t given us all enough strangeness and unfamiliarity, the year is coming to a close with a holiday season that, for most of us, is going to feel anything but normal. We can acknowledge the changes we’re making this year, and how inconvenient and even sad they can be, while still making the very best of it.
My family, for instance, is spread out all over the country, in Vermont, Wisconsin, Kansas, and even more states. So this year, we aren’t able to gather together like we usually do, like we look forward to doing all year. We’ve come together, via FaceTime and Zoom, to make some Christmas plans that we think are going to be very enjoyable, and let us feel close, even though we are far apart.
For some families, it might feel easier to make this year totally different than most others. That way, it doesn’t feel so much like you’re doing things that should be done with your entire family. And for others, they might feel better doing their traditional, classic holiday festivities. For my family, we’ve decided on a little bit of both. For the most part, we’re doing our normal family traditions, but with some changes. For example, my family usually gets together on Christmas Eve for a cheese fondue meal, and then again for lunch and a gift exchange on Christmas Day. And we’re still going to do those things – just over Zoom!
We decided that having the same meal as we usually do, and having that meal at the same time, while being able to talk and laugh with each other, would make us feel together in a very real way. For the gift exchange, we usually assign numbers to people by having them draw a card from the deck, and then go in order choosing wrapped gifts from a pile, unwrapping them, and then having the opportunity to “steal” someone else’s gift. This year, we’re assigning numbers to people by counting off, and then doing our exchange by showing off our gifts to the camera, and choosing that way. When someone chooses a gift, the person with that gift will unwrap it on camera so everyone can see what it is. Once everyone has chosen a gift that they love, and all the stealing is over with, we will all send them to each other through the mail. We may not get to actually receive the gifts on Christmas, but it’s nice having something to look forward to, after Christmas ends.
Other socially-distant ways to celebrate Christmas with your family this year include anything that is fun, festive, masked, and at least six feet apart! Caroling, and staying masked and outdoors, is one option for spreading holiday cheer, without spreading anything else. Surprising a friend or family member by having them wake up to their lawn totally decked-out in Christmas decor is a creative and unique gift for someone, and is very fun to do.
Get together with local family by having a Christmas car parade, with everyone’s cars decorated seasonally, where members of the family meet in a designated, quiet area with room to drive around, and show off their cars! You can also park a few spaces away from each other, roll down the windows, mask up, and talk to each other that way, in person.
Swapping cookie recipes with family, and trying each other’s recipes out while video chatting, can make it feel like you’re all together. This year can be a great opportunity to introduce a new tradition to your family, since so many things are already different. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do on Christmas, like take a family portrait, or go through belongings and finding things to donate, make this year the year you try it out.
This year will be one to remember. We should all try to make it remembered not only for the difficulties, but for the positive moments, too. The things that make this Christmas different can also be the things that make it great. The safer we all are this Christmas, the sooner we can go back to celebrating with our friends and family in person. Whether you and your family are making this holiday season one of a kind with new festivities, or keeping to the classics, I hope you all have a merry Christmas, and stay safe and healthy.
Allison Ervin, granddaughter of company founder Jay Lehman, is passionate about the powerless – children, animals and anyone in need. A freshman at Kent State majoring in international business with a minor in non-profit management, she has served in Indonesia and Central America, teaching English in daycare centers and orphanages. A committed vegetarian, when not studying or cat-cuddling, Allison enjoys painting, listening to the latest music, and thrifting (shopping at thrift and vintage stores).