Another opportunity knocks

Can you hear it?

How are we going to respond?

Think about it. This stupid pandemic is giving us opportunities to create new habits, routines, hobbies. It is giving us the opportunity to re-create our lives into something better.

What are we going to do? Are we going to whine and complain? Squander an opportunity because it is hidden in difficulty? Or are we going to dust ourselves off, decide to be resilient, and figure out how to make the best holiday we can, which very well may be the very best holiday we’ve ever had?

Sometimes the best opportunities hide in disasters.

Kate Bergeron

What are you going to do? What am I going to do?

The news is in: The pandemic isn’t going away any time soon. Even with a vaccine, we likely have at least another year of restrictions. We can either hide from it all (denial is decent coping mechanism), stomp around with a terrible attitude and just do what we must to get by (anger is an emotional response and while it is important to feel our emotions, bad attitudes and temper tantrums are definitely not the best coping mechanisms), or we can decide to bounce back and control what we can: breathe deep and look for joy.

For me and quite a few others, the answer obvious: We must decide how to create the best holiday season we can with the limitations the Covid-19 pandemic.

How are we going to make our pandemic holidays special?

For many people, one of the best parts of the holidays is seeing family and friends. 

We have the opportunity to make our holidays what we want. Rethink traditions and obligations. What do you want?

Kate Bergeron

So what are we going to do with that ability deeply diminished this year?

I’ve seen a few suggestions that make me smile. For example, Christmas pajamas, where everyone’s pajamas match, makes me laugh out loud. It cracks me up, because no matter how cute I think it is, there is no way my teenage sons are going to wear the same pajamas as their mom. However, if your sons are younger than 8 and it’s your jam, go for it! 

One article suggested changing out your shower curtain. A simple, relatively cheap purchase gives the room a whole new atmosphere. I’m tempted.

And what’s up with Christmas sheets? I’m in love.

Retail therapy is a real thing. There is something about handing over some cash or swiping the credit card and going home with something new that feels really good. It likely triggers something in the brain like dopamine that we really enjoy. I don’t personally care how the mechanism works, I just know it does. 

Yet I am not made out of money, and I haven’t figured out where the money tree grows, and I’m sure you’re not made out of money, and if you know where the money tree grows, may I please have a couple seeds? I’m saying that while retail therapy works, the pain in the pocketbook in January is a serious cause of misery for people in most years. Let’s not go overboard and have a retail hangover later. It isn’t worth the stress or hurt to our relationships.

Please be very cautious with retail therapy this fall and winter. Amazon, Target, Walmart, and social media are working hard to get us to do otherwise.

The great news is joy doesn’t need to cost money. 

If you don’t believe me, go for a walk in the woods with a four-year-old. Let him or her pick up every stick and leaf and stone that makes him or her happy. I know you’ve got the supplies to make some thing with their trophies.. I’m just kidding, kind of. 

Decorating for Christmas has been shown to make people happier. Decorations do cost money, but a couple of small items go a long way. Lights in and out of the house make me the happiest. So much so that my husband strung up a couple strings in the backyard for me to enjoy yearround. Also, paper, scissors, and tape or glue go a very long way. For many years, green and red paper chains were our main decorations. One year, I made decorations for the Christmas tree with glue, applesauce, and cinnamon. Mix the mixture, roll it flat, cut it out like cookies, let dry, and decorate. Lots of amazing ideas on Pinterest. Have fun looking and planning.

Sticks and stones may break my bones. They make great decorations too. What pieces of nature can you bring in for the holidays?

Nature also provides the very best holiday decorations. Dried grasses, berries, evergreen boughs, and sticks go a long way. A $3 bag of cranberries or popcorn on a string do too. Think old-fashioned and natural. What fabric is hiding in your sewing box? Be creative.

Holidays can be the best and worst time of year. Decide what brings you joy and reduces your stress. You can’t control a lot, but this is yours. Enjoy the opportunity.

Kate Bergeron

Think about and discuss with your family what your favorite holiday traditions are and what you might like to explore. My family loves decorating the house. The kids love the Christmas tree. I do not. They get to decorate it and take it down these days. Our annual gingerbread houses are a non-negotiable for all of us. The kids would choose gingerbread houses over gifts if they had to make a choice.

I love music. I would love to go Christmas caroling. I don’t know about anyone else in the  family. I’m thinking about asking another family to carol with us. They could walk on one side of the street and us on another. Ideas. I’ve seen ideas about having cookie exchanges or white elephants. 

Think ahead about Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, maybe even Valentine’s Day. Decide what you and your family value. Circle around what everyone really likes. Get rid of what you don’t like. For example, I don’t like visiting family over the holidays. I’ll give in every few years, but I really don’t enjoy it. I’d much rather visit any other time of the year. That’s something off my list. However, my family does enjoy playing board games and watching movies and driving around to see holiday lights. 

Make your choices count. They should bring joy, not stress, especially this year.

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