The Holidays: What That Means in 2020

With many families around the world unable to celebrate the holidays and continue meaningful traditions with family and friends, Writer, Author & Mom of Two, Summer Land, is here to share why she is focusing on mindfulness in December as well as her tips and tricks for talking to kids about a socially distanced silly season.

Kids celebrating christmas during covid

Well team, we’ve made it. It’s officially the last month of 2020.

Since March we’ve collectively weathered Zoom Easter, Zoom Passover, an eerily quiet Memorial Day, an unrecognizable Fourth of July, socially-distanced Ramadan, backyard trick or treating, and of course…. another not-hard-or-awkward-at-all Zoom Thanksgiving. (To name a few.) Lest we forget all the FaceTime birthday calls and ‘I so wish we could be near you…’ text messages.

Even though my newsfeed is peppered with scary ‘tracking the spread maps’ and startling statistics, every now and then I momentarily feel a sense of normal. My kids are back at school. I’m used to working remotely. Cases seem to be slowing down in my part of the world…but then something small reminds me that we’re still 100% in the midst of a global pandemic.

Want to know what the most recent thing was?

I opened my Instagram app on December 1st and saw a picture of someone’s Elf on the Shelf in a glass jar that was filled with a tiny hand sanitizer, mini toilet paper roll and a micro computer. (So Elf can obviously continue to work remotely, binge episodes of Schitt’s Creek and buy too-cheap-to-be-good red leggings.) On the front of the jar was a cute ‘2-week ISO’ sticker.

First I need to applaud the person who thought of this. As a mother who has stress-dreams about forgetting to move Elf and actually does forget to move Elf….(leaving me to make up elaborate lies about there not being enough Christmas cheer in the house…) I am beyond impressed with this level of genius. Whoever you are: the world doesn’t deserve you.

Second – it seems so surreal to me that my children’s childhood memories are going to involve questions and statements like, ‘Remember when Elf was in quarantine for two weeks?’ and ‘That was the year we couldn’t see Nanny and Papa.’ and ‘We couldn’t do class holiday cards because of COVID.’

What’s even more surreal to me (and heartbreaking) are all the families who are celebrating the holidays this year without a loved one, without their health, without their families, without a job, and without their sense of security.

If there’s one mantra I’ve subconsciously played on repeat in my mind in 2020, it’s, ‘The present is precious.’

As much of a cliché that might be, it’s actually proving to be quite a productive coping mechanism. Without knowing when COVID-19 will stop wreaking havoc on the world, I find that I have to approach our new (not) normal one day at a time.

I also have to whip out ALL my mindfulness tools. Since I’m the type of person who loves journaling my daily gratitudes, I’ve come up with a little bulked-up daily practice for the month of December.

It doesn’t really matter when you do these or if you can only do one or two, but below is a list of prompts I’m using to make December 2020 feel easier for both me and my family.

 

December 2020 Daily Mindfulness Prompts

 

  • What can I express gratitude for today?
  • What can I make peace with today?
  • Who can I contact today that makes me feel happy?
  • Who can I contact today to ask how they are?
  • How can I help my family out today?
  • What physical activity can I do today?
  • What old photo can I find and share with a friend?
  • What can I read that will make me feel inspired, not scared?

 

On top of answering those questions, I’m also working really hard to make sure my kids have realistic expectations of what Hanukkah and Christmas morning will look like. (Yes, we celebrate both!) While children are incredibly resilient, they’re also no strangers to fearing change and audibly expressing their dismay for not getting to visit the mall Santa.

As the mother of a 7 and 5 year old, I’ve found the following tips and tricks to be helpful when talking to kids about social-distanced holidays.

 

Tips for talking to kids about social-distanced holidays

 

  • Try to use an upbeat voice when talking about how there are going to be a few changes to your usual plans.
  • Make ‘shaking things up’ feel exciting and fun.
  • If you’re explaining that someone or something can’t happen, point out one or two positive things that WILL happen.
  • Ask your kids to help you create new traditions – this could be making a special recipe, watching a holiday movie, reading a favorite book or having an all-day DIY holiday decoration crafting session!
  • Ask your kids how they want to contact their family… is it FaceTime? Would they prefer to write and act in their own holiday short film to send them? Do they want to write a letter?
  • Most importantly – listen.

Listen to your kids while you help them navigate their emotions and most importantly: listen to your own cues for practicing self-care.

 

 

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