If it's Christmas time, then 2020 is almost over -- and what a year it's been! We've had to social distance, home-school our children, hide our smiles with masks and disrupt nearly everything in our lives. Bah! Humbug!
It's hard to get the holiday spirit going when we're apart from our loved ones. If this holiday season keeps us from visiting friends and family, going to the mall for our gift shopping, bringing the kids to see Santa and maybe even makes us too broke to adorn a Christmas tree ... well, then we can honestly say the Grinch had help from COVID-19 when it came to stealing Christmas.
There are ways to regain some of that old holiday spirit and make your Christmas come alive. From old-school greeting cards sent by mail to high-tech internet parties, we can reach out and share in the festivities. Mail decorative greeting cards to your faraway family, and if you have young children, let them include a drawing for the grandparents or maybe even design the greeting card itself. Mailing cards is also a terrific opportunity to include some of the latest family photos. Be sure to decorate your living space with cards and photos you receive to help make the distance seem a little smaller.
Decorate your home inside and out with colorful and festive decorations, and put your Christmas trees and other holiday decorations by the windows to be seen by all those who pass by. Speaking of passing by, bundle up your own troops in the car and drive through the neighborhood looking at everyone else's holiday displays. Some twinkling lights will certainly give cause for merriment. Depending on your neighborhood, see if you can spread the idea of outdoor displays and encourage a parade of cars, all properly distanced from each other, to go through the streets singing Christmas carols. Don't forget to flood your social media sites with gaily themed photos.
Especially if you haven't seen extended family members in a while, maybe now is the time to revive that old concept of the family newsletter. List some of your highlights (NO bragging or showing off, please!) and mail it out. Invite the recipient to add a paragraph or two and send it on, and, eventually, it should make its way back to you with all of the additions. The newsletter can be sent via USPS or ye olde email --whichever fits your style.
Thanks to the internet and live-chat features (many with visual capabilities), you can throw a party with your relatives. Plan a time to meet and greet just for the conversation, to light the tree together or to kindle the lights of a menorah or kinara. Or set a theme and involve the young ones: have children take turns presenting holiday customs from around the world, or send out craft kits and have them work on them together while apart. Book a live video chat with Santa Claus on the Talk to Santa website, and let all of the cousins enjoy.
Adults can share home recipes for holiday cookies and other delectable fare, or take turns reading to the kiddies from "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." Just for fun, host an ugly sweater party through Zoom, Facebook Messenger Rooms, Google Meet or another video conferencing service.
A few streaming apps offer the chance to host a live movie party between households. You can watch the movie as a group, eating your popcorn and using group chat to talk about the movie in real time. These video parties offer the chance to synchronize your video experience even if you need to stop the show for a few minute refreshment break. Contact the participating streaming apps to find out the terms and available programming.
Don't forget to share the spirit of Christmas and make a donation as a family to a favorite charity. If you have an elderly or shut-in neighbor nearby, make them a holiday dinner or treats and deliver it to their door. Sharing and caring for others is bound to make your holidays come alive!
Even though the holidays will look a little different this year, there are still plenty of ways to make them just as special.