A Very Different Christmas-Holidays in the Time of COVID-19

Christmas is traditionally the time for families to come together, for the exchanging of gifts and the sharing of meals, nights out, and for spending quality time together. But Christmas 2020, in the most unusual of years, promises to be very different for many.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the whole world and brought changes none of us could have imagined as we enjoyed last year’s holidays. Lots of us have spent more time at home, often either alone or with only our immediate families. We’ve travelled less and seen far fewer friends or relatives than we normally would. Lots of people have struggled financially as redundancies rise and opportunities shrink. And sadly, many will be spending the holidays without a loved one who was taken from them this year.

Naturally, many of us will be facing Christmas with mixed feelings. It can be a stressful time anyway, with the demand for everything to be ‘just right’, or wishing it would just hurry up and be over making it less than jolly.

Acceptance and expectation management

So what can we do to get the most from Christmas, which will happen whether we want it to or not?

First of all, accept ‘what is’, rather than focusing on ‘what if’. Travel restrictions, shielding and the Tier systems might be preventing you from seeing everyone you’d like to, or from hosting that special meal you’d been hoping to have. But wishing it was so, and experiencing the disappointment
and frustration of not having that wish met will only result in you having an even less merry Christmas.

Accept that things are as they are for a reason – to keep us and our loved ones safe and to help stop the spread of a deadly disease. By accepting that things might be a little different this year, a little smaller, a little quieter, you might actually begin to enjoy things more. Instead of having to either host or attend a party or meal where perhaps not everyone is able to relax or actually get along with each other, accept and embrace the reality of a smaller, more intimate and cosier Christmas. Doing less is not doing nothing – it can also be an opportunity to relax more. And next year, well who knows, it could be back the usual noisy and chaotic Christmas you are used to!

Secondly, begin managing expectations, your own and others’, sooner rather than later, to avoid hurt and disappointment. If you don’t feel able to spend what you usually would on food and presents, let people know. You might be surprised by how many others feel the same or are in a similar boat. If you don’t feel comfortable mixing with larger groups just yet, remember there is no rule that says you actually have to.

We’ve done so much to stay safe so far, and with a vaccine just around the corner, don’t be afraid to make your concerns heard. Others will either understand or not, neither of which is in your control. You are responsible for your feelings and actions, not theirs.

Whatever we might be used to, and whatever we may really want, what we actually end up getting might well be very different. Holding on to our rigid, unrealistic demands about a ‘perfect’ Christmas might only result in us missing the ‘perfectly good’ Christmas that’s just waiting for us to discover it.

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