Revised holidays can still be special

Leaves in shades of gold and russet are falling and crunching underfoot, the smell of bonfires is in the air, pumpkin spice lattes have made their annual return and snowmen and St. Nick are starting to creep onto store shelves; it’s the holidays.

The typical gatherings of a bustling house full of people, family and friends you haven’t seen since the 4th of July, laughter spilling out from the kitchen along with aromas of a feast, Friendsgiving celebrations surrounded by your favorite people and eating as much pumpkin pie as you can manage and Christmas day consisting of memories around the glowing tree will look a little different this year. Coronavirus has changed the way everyone goes about their daily lives and safely navigating the holidays will be no exception.

Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving can be altered to fit safety guidelines while carrying on with holiday traditions because stopping the spread of the virus and keeping people healthy is what will be most important. A big family bash in the kitchen whipping up turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, or ordering pizza with your best friends may be your ideal day, but a Zoom or FaceTime call can still bring you and your loved ones together. A fun way to still see family on turkey day while social distancing is swapping recipes that you would normal make together, or even a new recipe, and cook it together while on a call. It may not be quite the same as in person but being able to see one another’s faces (and burning sweet potatoes in the background) is the next best option this year.

Simply being intentional about still spending time with people, even if it’s virtual, will help you make the most of this holiday at home. Another option, if you’re not so tech-savvy, is having a bonfire with lawn chairs or blankets spread out six feet apart. Roasting s’mores, drinking hot chocolate, spending quality time with friends or family and talking about what you are thankful for could be your perfect answer. For what an incredibly dire year it has been, counting your blessings with loved ones might really lighten the mood. Carry this tradition into the Christmas season!

The most wonderful time of the year can still be just that. Christmas puts everyone in a great mood; the lights, the trees, the music, the snow, watching cheesy Hallmark movies — COVID-19 shouldn’t stop that. If you’re looking for a safe way to get out of the house and experience the Christmas atmosphere, try driving around at night in the comfort of your car to look at the Christmas lights up on houses. Go with someone you live with or you are regularly around, bring a thermos of hot chocolate, pack your favorite snacks and bump Christmas tunes to get you in the spirit. A Christmas movie marathon at home with loved ones is another cozy idea. Pick out some classics you watch every year like The Polar Express or Elf and maybe check out a new festive flick like Dash and Lily on Netflix.

Be safe and thoughtful this holiday season!