Mental Health In Quarantine / TFD At Home

How I’m Making The Most Out Of My Socially-Distant Holiday

By Friday, December 25, 2020

As someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, the holiday season still looks considerably different this year. Despite the fact that I’m not missing out on family traditions, I nevertheless spend this time with friends and family. But, considering that I have missed out on family traditions and holidays over the past few months, I’ve perfected my game plan to celebrate alone: creating a cozy, festive environment. 

1. Decorations & Baked Goods

Neither my roommate nor I celebrate Christmas, but we nevertheless invested in a tree, lights, ornaments, and even a DIY wreath for us to create as a holiday activity. We’ve been embracing fresh flowers and candles in the apartment, too, so we’re currently stocked up on holiday scents and plants, as well. As someone who loves to bake, I’ve been getting into the holiday spirit with cookies and other baked goods (all while listening to Christmas music, of course!) and generally embracing the holiday season with seasonal foods from Trader Joe’s and other stores. 

For both my roommate and I, this is an opportunity to create our own holiday traditions during the month of December. For others, this could be a moment to recreate family traditions, perhaps with a twist if there are aspects you don’t always love. Personally, taking the time to think about how I want to honor traditions and myself, both, with future holidays has been an unexpected upshot to this season. 

2. Gift Alternatives 

I’m not going to pretend to know what it’s like to holiday shop for your entire family and close friends—I imagine stressful?—but at least among my close friends who I often take this time of the year to find gifts for, we’ve been discussing other gifting options. Given that this year has been financially difficult for so many, I think it’s important to acknowledge and accept that gifts may look different this year. From a frank conversation about budgets to DIY gifts, this is certainly an important point of discussion. Among my friends, however, we’ve taken to discussing charitable giving, instead,  and that’s an effort that can go on year-round. Many of us have corporate matches we still haven’t maxed out on so we’re offering those up as options for gifts, instead, to make a donation to an organization in someone’s name. 

Moreover, as a fairly political friend group, we’ve also embraced donating to the Georgia Senate races in January. Beyond even donating, I’ve requested many of my friends to join me on a phone banking session for a gift, which entails both a training session and a two-hour phone bank. I’m someone for whom Acts of Service and Quality Time are important love languages, so these types of gifts mean so much more to be than a scarf or a pair of earrings. I’d recommend thinking deeply about the love languages of your loved ones and find low-cost gifting options for them, this year. 

3. Secret Santa Zoom Call

If you haven’t already, I further recommend planning virtual events for you and your loved ones. My friends and I are planning to do a Secret Santa reveal via Zoom today, alongside a cookie baking party where we can bake and then decorate together. We all bought the same cookie decorating toolbox, too, which makes it a little more fun. We’ve done similar Zoom hangouts before; all purchasing the same paint-by-numbers kit to try with wine or the same pasta-maker for a cooking night or two, but it feels important to continue these traditions over the holidays, especially. Not everyone is spending this season alone but it certainly feels even more special when those with family make time for those who are by themselves and I appreciate the unspoken comradery, this year, surrounding the holidays and friendship. 

4. Reflect & Refresh

Finally, I hope everyone is penciling in time for themselves, this holiday season. The holidays can be hard, family or no family, and 2020 has been hard. We all need extra self-love, care, and moments to refresh than ever before. I’m looking forward to a curated spa bath or two, getting through a few more books before the year closes out, and re-watching my favorite holiday movies with hot chocolate and treats. I’m also hoping to have time to really reflect and look back on this year. I think we’ve all done this quite a bit, throughout the year, charting phases of the pandemic with our interests and hobbies and habits, but I still feel as if there are a whirlwind of thoughts in my mind and a confusing torrent of feelings in my heart when it comes to 2020.

Perhaps we won’t be able to process it fully until 2021 or 2022, once we’re fully out of this pandemic and it seems as distant a reality as February 2020 feels, right now. But, I certainly hope to make time for reflection and quiet and stillness—just a bit—before the start of a new year.

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

Image via Unsplash

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