If you’re like me, you’re feeling weary these days. We have been navigating the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 for months now, and it is definitely getting old. Quarantining, toilet paper shortages, wearing masks, and social distancing; these have all become part of our daily lives. Many are living in constant fear–fear of COVID, fear of hospitalization, fear of being around others. A year ago, we never could have imagined the changes that 2020 would bring!
A “Different” Christmas
As we approach Christmas, it is likely that the holiday season looks different than it ever has before. Instead of friends gathering together for gift exchanges, Christmas caroling, and cookie decorating, people are be encouraged to socially distance. In place of gift-buying shopping sprees, many people have experienced the loss of jobs and financial strain during the year. Instead of celebrating “health and wealth” as we approach the New Year, many people are laying alone in hospital beds or are quarantining in their homes. Families are concerned about get togethers, friends are keeping their distance, and even churches have moved away from in-person gatherings. A season that is typically greeted with excitement and anticipation has a completely different feel this year.
But there is good news: God hasn’t changed. And the gift He gave the world that first Christmas so long ago–His one and only Son–is still as amazing as it was over 2000 years ago. While it can be easy to focus on the negative things that 2020 has brought, as well as the Christmas fun that is missing this year, perhaps it is time to realign our thinking.
Five Ideas for “Surviving” a COVID Christmas
If you are having a hard time figuring out how you are going to “survive” Christmas this year, give one (or more!) of these ideas a try.
1. Practice gratitude. Many times, in difficult seasons (such as we are in now), it is easy to become focused on what is wrong or what we lack. However, if we are able to realign our thinking and focus on what we dohave, it is possible to turn our negative thoughts in a positive direction. Make a list of five things that you are thankful for and share them with a friend. The list doesn’t have to filled with big things, necessarily, but can be made up of the little joys in life for which you feel gratitude. A hot cup of coffee, a snuggly blanket, an evening spent watching your favorite show on Netflix–these are all things to be celebrated and for which to be thankful.
2. Focus on giving. When you hear the word “giving,” it is likely you think of spending money. However, giving can easily occur without any money being involved. Take a few minutes and write a hand-written note to a friend, letting them know how much they mean to you. Give of your time by volunteering at a local organization (but be safe, of course!). Get down on the floor and spend some extra time playing with your children or grandchildren. There are so many ways to encourage and give to others that don’t cost a thing!
3. Connect with family and friends. You may not be able to get together with friends and family in person, but there are still ways to spend time together. Schedule a game night via Zoom, bake Christmas cookies at the same time while on a Google Meet, or FaceTime with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. While there is nothing that can replace the sweetness of being together in person, connecting through technology can still provide togetherness and create fun memories.
4. Practice self-care. It can be hard to remember to take care of yourself, but during these difficult times, it is even more important than ever to do so. This includes not only following healthy routines, like getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising, but also includes setting aside time to focus on your mental health, as well. Engaging in such activities will help keep your body and brain balanced.
5. Remember the “Reason for the Season.” Spending some time reflecting on the greatest gift of all–Jesus!–can change our hearts in reference to other things around us. After all, Jesus suffered the ultimate pain: death on a cross and separation from His Father. (Even COVID doesn’t have anything on THAT!) But, because of Jesus, we have hope not only now, while we are on earth, but have hope of spending eternity in Heaven with Him!
As you consider the approaching holidays, how do you plan on celebrating a “different” Christmas this year? And how do you plan on staying positive? We’d love to hear your ideas. Please share in the comments below!