Holidays Are Different This Year

Festive holidays are looking different this year. They will be challenging and there will be sacrifices. Our top priority is now saving lives, the holidays cannot weaken us and we can remain unbreakable during the

Festive holidays are looking different this year. They will be challenging and there will be sacrifices. Our top priority is now saving lives, the holidays cannot weaken us and we can remain unbreakable during the virus. Our lives linger in an uncertain world, having no idea when our “new normal” begins. In-person holiday gatherings are so risky, plus we have to figure out how to keep our head above water and still remain joyful. It feels so unfair we are constantly sacrificing daily, especially when it comes to spending time with people we love. Taking unnecessary holiday risks for a few months of good times will cause a tsunami of Coronavirus. If you walk into a hospital COVID unit you will see it is not worth a few hours of turkey dinner.

 

Not everyone has spacious homes where people can spread out and enjoy, plus it’s both stressful and difficult to take off your mask, eat a meal, while just hoping you don’t emit from your mouth the virus into the air. As a result, we are powerless about celebrating this holiday season. The intimacy of family members hugging and giving knowing, secretive eyerolls and fist bumps are missed, and Zoom doesn’t give kisses. But choose to see the situation as liberating—a firm choice to plan ahead and know how you will celebrate. It can eliminate lots of disappointments if you know and see the road ahead, and planning to avoid last-minute postal issues and the risks of shopping malls. Think about cooking and eating a meal on Facetime or Zoom with family/friends, and pull out a trivia board game or “Table Topics” cards to keep the conversation going. Have everyone describe what they made or challenge them to a “New Recipe Christmas” – something you’d never do when a hosting a traditional holiday meal! Maybe you can’t smell that pecan pie (or that trending TikTok Grinch Cake) baking but you can laugh about the zillion calories inside it and how delish it is.

 

Should you be one of these super-sonic, multi-tasker holiday cooks, you can always bundle up turkey, dressing, sides, and desserts and deliver them to your relatives. There will be a lot of “Exodus porch gifts” this season! It is still an act of love and they will know that with every morsel they eat. Place the food in decorative bags with stickers, handwritten notes saying how much you love them, and the package will be filled with cheer. Small things count and values change during a pandemic so we have to go with the flow of safety first. Think about it: there is an emotional attachment to the holidays but also an emotional attachment to a funeral. No age is exempt from the virus. The key to this year is maybe you really don’t need that handbag with “Gucci” initials on it, maybe you don’t even need a handbag period! I mean, where are you really taking your wallet other than right over to the laptop? We must embrace change and practice gratitude for the life we have. Sometimes you must have a break in traditions and perhaps less is more this year.  “Stuff” just doesn’t matter when a pandemic lurches in the background of our lives.

 

Thoughtful gifts don’t hurt a budget and change is good for the soul. Think of the Clinique lipstick you are saving all year due to mask-wearing. Instead of buying all the wrapping accoutrements for presents, try using cartoons from your newspaper or magazine sheets with great designs. You don’t have to spend money on boxes for smaller-sized gifts. I’ve always loved using different colored “do-rag” bandanas instead of wrapping paper. Twine can seal it and attach a key ring or a fun, odd piece from a thrift store. We need to be creative and interesting this year, forget fashionable. Where are you going to wear that little black dress anyway?

 

Rich or poor, there are people who don’t really need “stuff” this year. There are many available options to show your love and still be festive. Pulverize in your head all things you don’t really need, after all, many people are still in isolation at home. We can embrace the holiday change this year relating to the individual. For those loving gardening, send a Gift Plant of the Month and you will constantly be remembered. There are always good coffees and teas to send and include an indulgent sweet. I like to send a handwritten note each month…computers have erased the warm feeling one gets from seeing personal handwriting. For those on a tight budget, you can’t go wrong sending a gift card from a grocery store – and maybe include a mask and toilet paper roll, to try to inject some humor in tough times. Essential, practical items are important during a pandemic, especially for those that are homebound. Whether it’s a small aluminum bucket containing a cocoa kit or a mix of toiletries from the drugstore, or craft items from Dollar Tree, it will always be appreciated on the doorstep.

 

Lastly, remember a good old-fashioned phone call on those special holidays. Everyone would love to hear your voice and your interest in them. Many will still run to purchase the latest cell phone or piece of jewelry, but our gift to one another this year is remaining safe and respectful of one another. Celebrate the Goddess in you!

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Cindy Small
Cindy Small arrived in N. Alabama following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A native of New Orleans, she graduated from Tulane University with an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Masters in Historic Preservation Studies. She spends her spare time writing a weekly “Spotlight” column for The Decatur Daily as well as reading her non-fiction short stories on NPR. Published in various literary journals, her writings are always humorous added with a speck of arsenic.