A pandemic Christmas is a little different to the norm.
Instead of my usual Christmas Survival Guide where I give you hints and tips on navigating family relationships, this year I am writing about how to manage if you can’t be with that mad, crazy, lovable family of yours, as you usually would.
Christmas Might Look Different in 2020
While most Australian domestic borders have reopened, people who have family in other countries are still limited by quarantine/isolation rules. You may have decided to forego the usual Christmas (or you might not have had a choice in the matter).
For those Aussies with relatives interstate, the flight costs may be prohibitive and maybe that has made you choose not to travel this festive season.
Whatever the reason, for many people, Christmas 2020 is a holiday season unlike any other.
Difficult Decisions in a Covid Christmas
Sometimes there is relief in not making the trek to see family (or have them visit you).
However, relief is never going to be all you feel.
There is always a downside. Maybe it is guilt (should I have just spent the money? Grandma is getting kind of old…), or loneliness, or a feeling you are missing out (especially if everyone else is together and you’re the only one “missing”).
Maybe your family members are angry with you and you feel resentful of that, or it might be something else.
Sure as anything, when we make a decision there is an upside and a downside. The trick is to make the upside really really up!
Making A Plan B for a Pandemic Christmas
Many of my clients were concerned they wouldn’t be able to get back to see family in their home states (they have since all cancelled their sessions with me as they ARE heading home after all, and I couldn’t be happier for them).
My advice to them during this uncertainty was to keep Plan A as “Going Home”, but make a really awesome Plan B – something that they wouldn’t normally do – a real treat.
That way, if they got to go home, fantastic. But if not, they had something wonderful up their sleeve.
Your Really Awesome Pandemic Christmas Plan B might be:
- A lunch menu that is exactly what you want to eat, rather than what you always eat because of tradition
- A sleep-in on the day, followed by an ocean swim or a hike
- A lovely self-gift you bought yourself and wrapped
- Watching your favourite Christmas movie
- Sitting around reading a great book.
Whatever makes you smile, plan to do that (but better) for Christmas.
Christmas Commitments Can Be EXHAUSTING
Until very recently, every year, we would travel to our state of origin BY CAR (!) with our kids AND THE DOGS!
We were like the Griswalds in the National Lampoon movies. We would make the long (oh, so long) drive, arrive, and then get into full Christmas busyness. It was exhausting.
The chaos of doing this year after year finally led to holiday burnout. We had to try other ways. It was difficult at first to feel like we were busting tradition and might not get the full family experience, but we have found the holidays so much more rewarding now that we have pared things back a little.
Our new, low-key Christmas plan
Last year, when both our kids had finished high school and we had taken a trip overseas close to Christmas, we decided we couldn’t be bothered to drive AGAIN.
So, we flew interstate early on Christmas morning, saw both families, then flew home late Christmas night. The dogs were fine for a day on their own, and we got to see everyone without the hoopla that a long car journey requires.
It meant that we could be in Sydney for the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race (we have never seen it!), our sons could see their friends, and we felt like we were on vacation!
We loved it so much we are doing it again this year!
The Christmas getaway
My family had a Christmas in South East Asia once, just us parents and our two kids. It was the most stress-free Christmas I have ever had.
We were at our chosen location days before the Big Day, so there was no travelling right at the busy time.
We had lunch booked at a restaurant near our resort and we WALKED ALONG THE BEACH to get to it. (Heaven.)
I was initially worried about my children missing the Christmas tree but the hotel had a fantastic one made of coconuts. It was lit up and was HUGE.
We had a small decal Christmas tree that I put on the hotel room wall, and on Christmas eve, “Santa” put presents under it.
Sure, we missed seeing our siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, but we gained a beautiful memory and a different kind of closeness in sharing Christmas just between us.
It was a daring breach of tradition, but it was just wonderful.
You can have a different Christmas this year too – it might be your best ever!
Find ways to let your Pandemic Christmas Plan B make up for any disappointment.
If you are worried about being alone at Christmas – well, that is a very real concern.
If you are unsure who you can spend the day with, perhaps you could enquire on your local community board (there’s usually a Facebook board for a local area) if there are any group gatherings being held.
Or see if you can volunteer to serve a Christmas lunch to others, or offer to dog/cat-sit and have a canine or feline buddy to spend the day with.
The thing is, you are not the only person in your area without your family around. Try to find others who don’t want to be alone (animals count as ‘others’ and usually love having a human slave around to wait on them) so that you can embrace the Christmas period with a sense of connection.
Think Differently, Find the Silver Lining of a Pandemic Christmas
So, whatever the reason that you might not be having your “usual” Christmas this year, I urge you to find a silver lining in the opportunity to create a new tradition.
Whether you eat different foods, choose a different activity, or do some volunteer work – design a special Christmas that gets you excited about the day.
Whether you are Christian or not, Christmas is a day for many that is not “business as usual”. We can honour the celebratory feeling this holiday brings, even if we aren’t able to be with family or enjoy the usual traditions.
Who knows – you might create a brand new tradition that you stick with year after year!
Let us know in the comments below if Christmas looks different for you in 2020. We would love to hear how you are modifying your holiday season to adjust to this unique year.
Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!