By Maggie Pascucci

As the world faces the uncertainties and challenges brought forth by a global pandemic this year, we yearn for the comfort and camaraderie often found in holiday celebrations. While each person, each family, each community defines what holiday traditions mean for them; the celebrations of 2020 and 2021 will likely look and feel different for most of us.

With this comes the question: how can we mark the occasion of holidays and maintain their warm feelings while practicing measures that keep us and our loved ones safe?

Creativity will be key. If our traditional celebrations are unable to happen, we can consider alternatives that pose lower risk of spreading or becoming infected with COVID-19. For example, most of us have become regular users of online meetings and platforms that can support a virtual gathering. These platforms could be used to share a holiday meal at a planned day and time.  Perhaps we can decide on an activity or ritual that all family members engage in, and later share the experience with a brief photo or video during a group chat. Sharing special food is a universal holiday experience; sending recipes to family or friends ahead of time, or hosting an online cooking demonstration of a favorite holiday dish, may be a way to share experiences with a group. Providing a meal or sending a care package to a loved one or neighbor that can be delivered outside a door may not be the way we envisioned sharing a holiday meal, but it is a gesture filled with love.

As we begin the holiday season, consider discussing plans early with the people who are your usual holiday companions. We each have a sense of what feels comfortable and safe for us and the members of our household, and wider families and communities may have differing views on how to celebrate. While disappointments may occur when people aren’t on the same page, at least no one will be caught off guard; plans can be made to ensure everyone stays safe, within their comfort levels, and as happy as possible considering the circumstances.

However different our celebrations this year may be, one thing that hasn’t changed is the meaning behind them; there is still the opportunity to connect with others and share joy. Perhaps our creative solutions to mark the day as “special” and unlike any others will lead to new traditions to include in our holiday celebrations in the years to come.