While having to celebrate holidays during a pandemic isn’t something we thought we’d ever face, here we are.
When the unexpected happens, we have to choose whether to have a tantrum and lament the things we’ve lost or to fight to find that silver lining and make the best of a bad situation.
And, by the way, if you’re looking for a case study for choosing lament, there are ample examples in the Old Testament. Check out the book of Lamentations for starters, and for some good character studies, take a closer look at the prophets Jeremiah and Elijah.
There’s nothing wrong with grieving, and we should deal with and process our emotions in a healthy way. However, with Advent just around the corner, this is a timely reminder that we have the choice to pursue hope, peace, joy and love despite the chaos.
If that sounds like a nice way to end 2020, here are some simple ways to celebrate holidays this year.
Decorate and put up lights
Adding themed decorations in and around your home is one of the simplest ways to add joy. It may feel like there’s no point since you’re not hosting holiday gatherings, and I’ve certainly been guilty of this train of thought in the past, but there’s something therapeutic about dressing your home and it adds a festive feeling.
Want to take it up a level? Decorate your Zoom background by adding lights or even a mini tree. Want to bless others? Put up some displays for your neighbours to see—who knows what a little festive fun will do to lift others’ spirits?
Have a gift exchange
While gift-giving may look a little different this year, there’s no reason you can’t open gifts virtually. More than one group I’m connected with has decided to hold virtual gift exchanges by drawing names and having people order gifts on Amazon to be delivered directly to the recipient. Together we’ll meet on a video platform and open our gifts one by one.
If money is tight this idea can still be accomplished, simply put a cap on the spending or scale it back to writing letters and sending them to each other, or setting up other parameters like homemade or handcrafted gifts.
Pro tip: make sure to build in extra time so the gifts arrive for your virtual gift opening!
Hold a virtual holiday gathering
If you’re stuck for ideas of what to do for your gathering, think about using conversation starter card games with fun prompts, or do an activity like creating tacky sweaters or holding a cookie decorating competition.
You can plan ahead by sending participants a list of materials they can collect for the event, or mail kits for everyone to use at your gathering. These do go smoother if there is a ring leader to keep the event moving!
Plan a viewing party
Once the snowmen are built and the daylight has disappeared, there’s nothing better than putting on cozy holiday-themed pyjamas and curling up with snacks and cocoa before launching a movie marathon. So why not continue the tradition, even if you aren’t gathering this year?
Many streaming services like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video have introduced group watch features, and watch party apps like Teleparty makes it possible to synchronize playback with services like Netflix and HBO. It’s an easy way to watch together and even supports coordinated bathroom breaks and group chat options.
Reframing the holidays
Like most of you, celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas without my family wasn’t on my radar and it has caught me somewhat unprepared. To help keep me focused on what is still possible rather than what I’ve lost, I’m using Ephesians 5:15-20 as a framework for approaching this holiday season.
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Ephesians 5:15-20
With this Scripture passage in mind, I’m looking forward to reframing my celebrations and intentionally choosing the Advent themes of love, hope, peace and joy.