Creating New Traditions!
This year’s holiday season will be especially challenging, marked by the coronavirus pandemic. At the end of this long year of disappointment and frustration, it might feel difficult to look forward to and embrace the joys of the holiday season. How can your family celebrate and find new traditions to create that reflect the true meaning of this time.
First of all - have a family discussion
The holidays have traditionally been about family and friends gathering to celebrate and be together - school is out, work slows down and we carve out this time to see people perhaps we have not been able to during our hectic lives. Right now, that can be even more challenging - almost impossible. If your children are having a tough time adjusting to how the holidays will be different this year, let them understand that you feel disappointed as well. Brainstorm together how you will celebrate this year. The more predictability we can create in this uncertain time, the better it is for kids
Focus on what IS Possible
Think of this year as an opportunity to start new traditions and think creatively. Talk with your children and extended friends and family about new ways to make this holiday season special, and especially, how to stay connected, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
Make a list of family traditions and rituals that your family CAN still participate in. Think about what is the most meaningful and come up with ideas for how to continue these traditions in a new creative way.
Creating New Traditions
Zoom get togethers
I know zoom sessions are getting old but put your kids in charge of mastering breakout rooms and fun activities to do - singing holiday songs, a dance party, perhaps reciting a Christmas story.
Friendly Competition - Pass around favorite recipes and get everyone to bake the same dish and have a contest with best presentation, best photographed, etc… Try to make enough categories for all! Create an art contest - most creative holiday centerpiece…
Sending care packages with favorite treats or a home-made ornament.
Create a 2020 Journal - with stories, pictures and videos of what your family is experiencing this year. It will be interesting to look at next year and remember this time.
Decrease your stress - this is a great opportunity to scale down all that you have done in the past during the holidays while keeping the most important and meaningful traditions intact. Give yourself permission to take it easy this year. Instead, focus on the importance of staying connected and staying safe.
Doing service or helping others - Helping your kids think about ways to be kind and generous to others can make this year’s changes easier to handle. For example, try letting your child pick a charity your family can give to. Tell them, “We know that when we’re dealing with difficult emotions ourselves, doing something for someone else can really help us feel better.”
Give kids a chance to express themselves
When framing this year as special and creating new activities and traditions, let kids have a role. What would make this feel special to your kids in positive ways? What would they like to cook? What games do they want to play? Do they want to set aside time for favorite movies or listen to special music? Being part of that decision-making process helps offset some of those negative feelings.
Often times, as parents, we are trying to come up with ideas for things for our kids, but really, if you just ask your child, they will have ideas, and the voice that you give them is really important and a strong protective factor.
Let kids express disappointment
When children are upset about cancelled trips or not seeing cousins, it's tempting to tell them that it’ll be fine, and that they’ll have just as much fun at home. But it’s more important to validate their feelings by listening. Acknowledge that you’re disappointed, too, and let them know that it’s okay for them to feel disappointed as well.
It’s also helpful to model coping with your disappointment in a positive way. Talk to your kids about what you’re doing to feel better (like scheduling calls with friends who you never get a chance to chat to, taking a bath or reading a good book and help them find their own ways to do the same.
And if kids are upset or angry about your decisions not to participate in a larger family gathering, it’s important to validate those feelings too. You can say things like: “I understand that you’re mad right now. It’s okay to feel frustrated. We made
this decision because we thought it was the best way to stay safe. But it’s okay to feel disappointed and mad.”
That validation can go a long way in bringing down those feelings, and it gives you an opening to calmly explaining your reasoning. Sometimes kids get upset because we’re making decisions and not really giving them any information. Keeping your kids in the conversation and letting them know that you hear them can help them feel respected even in situations that don’t go the way they want.
Most of all - have a safe and beautiful holiday!