Nothing says “Happy Holidays” like quarantines, canceled family gatherings and masks. Some of you are decorating early and embracing the holiday seasons ASAP as a way to bring light to a daunting time. For others, you feel a bit more bah-humbuggish, knowing you aren’t able to celebrate in the ways and with the people you love as you have in years past. Wherever you fall on the holiday spirit spectrum, as we enter our first pandemic holiday season, here are a few tips to ensure your marriage stays healthy and stable, even when the world around us feels so different.
- Embrace the Slowdown
It’s not the same. The list of canceled or modified holiday traditions in my family is long. For me, this will be the first Christmas that my family doesn’t travel from Charlotte to Greensboro to Ohio and back within a matter of days. My youngest has already shed a tear about not going to Nana’s house for Christmas. And while we are sad for the moments that we will lose, I am trying to embrace the slowdown. It sounds kinda nice to have a Christmas without having to shop for something to wear or book babysitters for holiday parties; or a Christmas without packing and unpacking and packing again. A Christmas in the comfort of our home instead of the highway. There is loss, no doubt, but this year, let’s embrace the time we gained from the slowdown.
2. Replace a Lost Tradition with a New Experience
Instead of a Christmas in the snow in Ohio, part of my family is meeting up at the beach for an early Christmas celebration. We will be eating seafood instead of ham. While it’s not the same, I’m excited to build a new memory for our pandemic holiday. I’m hearing lots of stories of families planning a new experience: for the first time they’re going to the mountains to cut down a fresh tree, or making assortments of Christmas cookies together, putting together holiday care packages for loved ones far away, or shopping together on Amazon for a family in need. Do something new and different!
3. Find Gratitude
If there is one thing that has helped me most during this crazy time in the world, it is gratitude. Focusing on all the negativity and things I can’t do brings me down. In March, I downloaded The Calm App—best purchase ever. One of the things I love about this app (besides the ten-minute meditation) is that is has different prompts to fill in daily that are dedicated to finding gratitude. It also gives ideas on how to incorporate the daily message into your life.
Remember, you are a role model. Times are tough and while this is a mind-blowing sh*t storm (sorry, I tried to put it nicely, but isn’t it the most accurate way to describe what is happening in the world?) we will go through other huge trials and tribulations. This is an opportunity to show our children—and anyone else around us who we might influence—resilience in the face of the storm.
4. Have Empathy with Each Other
If your partner is having a harder time than you, be curious and ask about it. Remember, it’s not just about fixing their sadness but allowing them to have it and letting them know you are there for them. Offer extra hugs or allow plenty of time for them to vent and for you to just listen.
We hope your holidays are full of empathy, gratitude, new experiences, and appreciation for the slowdown!
~Lori and Shanna