It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year,

but right now, it may feel like the toughest.

On any given year, the holidays can be filled with cherished traditions, numerous gatherings, and plenty of decadent food.  It’s typically a time where we can enjoy time with loved ones and celebrate.

But during a pandemic?

We can feel as lost as Santa’s reindeer in a snowstorm without Rudolph.

Let’s face it – this year is going to be different when it comes to the holidays.  However, it doesn’t have to be any less special or meaningful.

Sure, Grandma may not be feeding the entire extended family with her special recipes and the annual tradition of seeing the Nutcracker may be on hold…but with a little shift in perspective and a dash of creativity, we can create new memories – ones that may be infinitely more joyful than we ever expected!

Following, I share 10 tips on keeping the holidays jolly – even when they’re not what we envisioned:

1. Define What You Want.

Grab a piece of paper, find a quiet space, and write out what you’d like the holidays to look like this year.  Is it less cleaning and more playing?  Is it teaching the kids to cook a family recipe or reserving your take-out?

Write out what typically stresses you as well as what you want more of.

2. Share With Your Family.

Let your family know what you want this year and ask them their requests as well.  Maybe your spouse is looking forward to a cozy holiday evening at home with your favorite meal or maybe the kids just want to have a family game day.

You may be pleasantly surprised to find that sometimes our culture tells us what we need to do more than what we all really want to do.

3. Decide Together How to Best Spend This Time.

Do the holidays really need to center around a certain meal?  Does the perfect tree have to be found and then meticulously decorated?  Does everyone really need to be out shopping for the quintessential gift?

Or, is it time to rethink what the holidays could be.

A day of ice skating and hot chocolate, snow tubing or snowshoeing followed by fondue, a night of holiday movies, an online search for a charity donation, or a winter puzzle in front of the fireplace are all great activities that provide quality time together.

4. Be Flexible.

How we handle the change in holidays is a great teaching moment for our children and families.  Will you refuse the change or will you go with it?

This is especially apparent with family members and/or children who have certain expectations of what the holidays should be.

Yes, we are all craving some sense of normalcy right now and if you can happily and easily create it – go for it!

If not, let flexibility be the lesson.  Explain that tons of presents underneath the tree or a big party at your house is not able to happen this year, but that together, you can still have fun.

Which leads us to number 5…

5. It’s Okay to Say No.

Even though there are restrictions and guidelines, there may still be invitations to gatherings, expectations to shop for gifts, and requests for elaborate meals.

But guess what?

It’s okay to say no and in this climate – it may be the healthiest thing you can do for not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.

6. Involve the Entire Household.

Still want that amazing dinner?  Love when the house gets decorated?  This year, get everyone involved!

Ask every household member to select one dish they can prepare and clean up.  Or, let each person take on a decorating task.

7. Extend Gratefulness.

2020 has been a hard year, but keep the holiday spirit alive by having each member at the table share what they are grateful for.

Ask about what others have learned, any new perspectives they have on life now, and how this has shaped their future goals.

8. Establish a New Tradition or Ritual.

Is it time to try something new? This may be just the year to do it!

Learn about a different cultural holiday and do something to celebrate it, try cooking a meal from your family heritage, forgo gifts and go skiing for the day, or make that popcorn string for the Christmas tree you’ve seen in pictures past.

Embellish on old traditions or just create a brand new one!

9. Get Outside.

Not only is this good for dealing with the pandemic, but it’s a great way to spend time together.

Try creating a new physical holiday tradition such as a family 5k on your own, sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, ice skating, etc.

Yes, it will probably be cold so take along hot chocolate and hand warmers so you can still enjoy what Colorado has to offer!

10. Be Intentional.

Don’t just buy to buy or decorate to decorate.  Make sure you spend your time, money, and energy on things that are meaningful.  We all only have so much mental and physical expenditure and if we deplete it all on things we feel we have to do, we won’t have much left for what we want to do.

Keep things simple if need be and make them count.

Yes, these holidays may be more challenging than in the past.  But, we can still enjoy them!

It’s your choice…are you ready to deck the halls?

Harmony Family Medicine provides naturopathic medicine to the Boulder and surrounding Denver metro areas.  For support with stress, anxiety, sleep, pain, hormones, fatigue, digestion, and other health issues, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or contact me here.