Updated: May 12, 2022
As we find ourselves in the midst of the hectic holiday season, many of us are probably experiencing a mix of emotions. This is especially true for 2020! Many of us may be happy that the holidays have arrived, eager, perhaps desperate, for some good cheer this year. Others are likely grateful to bid this year farewell and see what 2021 has to offer. 2020 has stressed many of us out to the point we feel like this year has been an intense fever dream leaving us stuck in a haze. Even the normal holiday stress that comes this time of year has a new feel and many of us can acknowledge that the pandemic among other 2020 events have dampened our holiday cheer.
With the holidays arriving rapidly, we find ourselves in a unique and bittersweet situation. For some people, families may not be able to meet and spend time with each other due to COVID-19 restrictions. In past years where there were huge Thanksgiving or Christmas parties; now events may be limited. Travel restrictions may put a damper on family togetherness. While some families may be unable to meet in-person, there are online and FaceTime options. However, most of us will admit that this is just not the same. Many families struggle with the decision to meet in-person or virtually, perhaps due to health concerns for family members.
This decision can bring with it feelings of guilt, annoyance, and even bitterness or sadness. Each family situation and travel decision is different due to differing state restrictions. There are some families who may meet in-person for the holidays and feel guilty for doing so. They may feel stigma or pressure from neighbors or friends to not meet in-person. There may also be families who do not visit their families and are met with guilt and frustration for not seeing their loved ones. There is pressure present on both sides which can cause even more stress to this already stressful time.
The pandemic has affected us all in a variety of ways. As this situation continues, we realize that there are tough decisions to be made and that there is no right or wrong way to feel. It can at times be easy to pass judgment onto other people and even to ourselves about how we are handling this year and especially the approaching holiday season. Give grace to yourself and others. With all the challenges and external stressors we are all experiencing, be kind to yourself instead of adding even more negativity to your life. Acknowledge your situation and your emotions, whether they are positive or negative. A big obstacle can be accepting what you cannot change. Sometimes focusing on what you do have control over in these crazy times, can help your mind from spiraling out of control. Brainstorm activities that you enjoy and that are realistic to do on a daily or weekly basis. This uplift your mood and give you a sense of control. It may also be helpful to think of ways to improve connection between you and your loved ones instead of falling into the distance you may be feeling between them.
With the physical distance feeling larger than ever, take the time to text or call your family more than you normally might to decrease the mental and emotional distance you may be feeling between you and your loved ones. If you are unable to see your family face-to-face this year, you can also think of creative options to communicate with them to spread love and joy. Feeling connected is something that we all need, especially now. Write your loved one a handwritten letter or a Christmas card to brighten their heart. Send a silly text or gif to make them laugh. Video chat to compare ugly Christmas sweaters. In the age of technology, we have a variety of ways to reach out to the people we miss. We all know that this might not fix the ache in our chest from missing our family, and yet, we can find new ways to connect to each other. Don’t brush the ‘ugh’ of this year under the rug. Acknowledge how you and your family feels, but try to focus on healthy and helpful ways to care for yourself and connect with your loved ones during this holiday season.