While running errands over the weekend I heard on the radio that in 2019, 55 million Americans were traveling on the Thanksgiving weekend and more than 155 million were traveling between December 21-January 1. My family counts five of the traveled last year. My small family left New England and gathered my relatives in Maryland to see my brothers, fathers, nephews-people I love dearly and only see every year. My heart sank, thinking about what the holiday storm would be like in a few weeks and because of the pandemic, we won’t be traveling beyond our own backyard this year.
Our decision not to travel made no sense. While we were all careful, we also knew that any hour our family could carry the COVID-19. We don’t risk exposing everyone (or the people who rest stop up and down on the east coast) to our germs. So how are we going to navigate the upcoming November and December holidays if we’re not physically together?
Most holidays are celebrated with one of life’s greatest joys: good food. Even if you don’t sit at the table with the same 20 people as usual, you can decide everyone will share the same food from a distance. This is the year to finally ask your brother for his cornbread recipe, or ask your mom to let you know how he makes turkey each year. While I don’t recommend putting a pie in the mail, there are other baked goods you can make with your kids and send in an inaccessible gift to family members. After a video call and enjoy the same dessert together to celebrate your holiday!
We all spend MORE time on our screens each week for work and school. But how often do you play a video call? This year our little Thanksgiving family celebration will be watched with a large, multi -family, live video hunt. There are several other family games that can be played via video call, such as Bingo, Freeze Dance, and Pictionary. A shared activity can cheer up the spirits and make it feel (almost) that you are all the same.
Come back, Together
Another way to connect with the family while apart is to agree to work together on a community service project. Maybe you can all agree to buy a set of merchandise to give to your individual community food banks. Or you can all decide that each of you will decide writing a letter to an elderly person to help others feel less alone and isolated during the holidays. Young children can contribute by helping to choose merchandise or adding a different colored drawing to a letter. By sharing acts of service as a large family, you strengthen your connection while also teaching your children about your family’s values.
Create a Place of Feeling
Listen, I know how hard it is to stay positive and positive about another incident that COVID-19 allegedly broke for your family this year. But research has shown that your children look to you for emotional clues on how to handle unfamiliar situations. Remind and reassure your children that the holidays are not canceled – we did something different this year. Maintaining energy is important, but it is also a good teaching opportunity for how to manage bad feelings. Especially if your kids are old enough to associate certain holidays with family members who aren’t there, it’s OK to recognize and follow the mark of how you’re feeling by saying, It taught your child that your family is a safe place to express true feelings.
This is to create some happy, positive memories that your family will remember years from now. Happy Holidays!
In addition to Staying Connected from Afar
I am Claire, a Bright Horizons employee and mother of three school -going children. I have spent years as a child care educator and researcher, as well as a writer, writing about the ups and downs of becoming a mother. I believe that writing honestly about parenting is the best way to celebrate the joys and normalize the challenges we all face. I live in MA and in my spare time I enjoy hiking with my dog and reading.