Making holiday plans has always been stressful when you live away from your family, but this year it’s especially difficult. The CDC has advised us to expect the pandemic to get worse as families come together for the holidays and celebrate inside due to cold weather. Many families are hurting, whether from finances, job loss, illness, and even death. The need to be with loved ones makes the thought of celebrating Christmas without them seem unbearable.
No matter what you decide regarding going home for Christmas, keeping you and your family safe is what matters most. Having family members upset with you can make you feel more stressed and guilty even when you know you are doing the right thing for your family and yourself. To ease your mind and keep your focus on the reason for the season, below are some suggestions to help you take care of your own mental health while protecting your family.
1. Extend grace to yourself and your family. This is a tough year and being gentle with each other takes priority. Your family isn’t selfish for wanting you with them; they’re lonely for you. However, part of being a responsible adult and loving your family is protecting them.
2. Respect each other’s decision without judgment. This year families have been forced to do things differently. Being generous with understanding and not pressuring people out of their decision shows respect and value for each other. Connect online or via phone to show each other genuine support and plan to meet at a safer time.
3. Focus on making your Christmas fun by recreating family traditions. Spending the holidays away from family is difficult, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate together. You’ll miss opening presents together, but you can do that together on FaceTime or Marco Polo. Play games online via Zoom and spend the holidays together emotionally even if physically apart.
4. Remind your family and yourself that you’ll have more holidays to celebrate. It is easy to lose perspective when we’ve lived a new normal for 10 months of the year. But with the hope of the vaccine right around the corner, we can begin planning future celebrations when we can all be together safely.
The greatest Christmas gift we can give each other is using this year as a wake-up call to be a better version of ourselves. We’ve all witnessed the importance of family love and support this year. When we prioritize and put effort into understanding each other without judgment, we become a stronger, more loving family.