Is COVID-19 Helping Us Release Holiday Expectations?

This year, many of us will be spending the holidays physically distanced from loved ones due to the impact of COVID-19. Although some may feel a sense of sadness or disappointment related to this change, there is also a sense of relief that can come with detachment from holiday expectations. We breathe a bit deeper when we remember there will be less of seeing people we may not want to see. We smile and relax our shoulders as we release the pressure that can come with hosting many people. We feel content with enjoying alone time, because this year, it is slightly more acceptable to spend time alone on a holiday.

Some of us have space to consider the traditions we would like to create and we can begin to let go of societal and familial expectations that often leave people feeling unsatisfied with their holiday experience. We have more room to reflect on what feeds us, on all levels, and to proceed accordingly. Here are a few thoughts to help you do just that. 

  • Check in with you. When you think of how you want to spend your time this holiday season, what are some of the first things that come to mind? Do that! As best as you are able given personal and societal circumstances. It can be as simple as switching up your menu for Thanksgiving because you never even really liked turkey anyway, or not cooking at all and buying a face mask and Epsom salt to create your own little retreat in your home. Do what’s workable in your space.
  • Take time to reflect on how you typically spend this time of year. What parts of that do you want to keep and what parts would you like to change? Consider the meaning behind the changes you choose to implement.
  • Explore a holiday you’ve wanted to celebrate or learn more about but haven’t (hey Kwanzaa) due to a feeling of obligation or simply going with the flow of family tradition. 

Although we can make these shifts at any point we choose, the mandated physical distance that is in place for many helps us perceive a bit more freedom to create traditions we want, as opposed to continuing to follow what is expected. 

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