Making Wonderful Holiday Memories During a Not-So-Wonderful Time- Part 2

Welcome to the Season of Mixed Blessings! A time when the relief of not having a full house for the holidays is mixed with missing the love and energy family brings. A time when the reduction of income because of the pandemic is offset by not being able to go shopping for gifts anyway.

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series designed to help you create a fabulous holiday season with magnificent new traditions for the whole family. For ideas on how to put a positive spin on this year’s nontraditional holiday, read Part 1. If you have some problems getting the celebration off the ground, I have solutions, and lots of them! Part 3 deals with how to handle Holiday Gifting when you don’t have holiday money to spend.

As I see it, you have three choices:

  1. Worry about what the pandemic will bring
  2. Wallow in disappointment and misery because you can’t uphold family celebration traditions as in years gone by
  3. Revamp this year’s holiday season with brand new traditions and fun

(Spoiler Alert: I vote for #3)

Instead of living in the past with regret and depression, or ramping up your anxiety with futuristic what-ifs, it’s time to plant yourself firmly into the now moment. Give your family the gift of staying in the moment, or should I say, give them the present of staying in the present. (Is that why it’s called the present?)

Problem: We Have No Spare Money For Holiday Activities

New Tradition:  Holiday Interviews

After we got married, every New Year’s Eve my husband and I began making annual videos. We shared our lives, discussed our marriage, dreamed about the future, and basically captured who we were as a couple at that particular moment in time. Once the cherub was born, she was included. As she grew, we added her take on her best friends, her teacher, and her favorite things. She’d play a song on the piano and talk about her family. 

Now that she’s grown, she can listen to her parents back when they were the age she is now, and see them as they saw themselves. I appreciate how much she values this gift, especially since all I have of my folks as young parents is a couple of silent movies. This year, record your first Annual Holiday Keepsake.

New Tradition:  Write Holiday Letters  

Write a Holiday Recap to send to family and friends. It’s an excellent way to stay in touch. Nowadays, when I go back and reread the ones we wrote as newlyweds, it provides a thread of continuity in our lives that can be celebrated and re-celebrated over time.

New Tradition:  Find Free Fun 

One of my favorite middle-school-age memories is joining in on the Hallelujah Chorus on Constitution Plaza in Hartford, CT. They passed out the lyrics so we attendees could sing along with the performing choir. I don’t remember if there were musicians or piped in music, but I definitely remember the vibration of the music surrounding me as this group of total strangers sang… and that momentous experience was free.

When I was growing up, we lived paycheck to paycheck, but my mother scoured the newspaper looking for free opportunities. Free activities, both local and online, abound. Check your local library and newspaper for events. I grew up listening to classical music in a variety of parks, attending art shows, holiday sing-a-longs, and plays, all for free, and all outdoors. 

The opportunities are out there. All you have to do is find them.

New Tradition:  Write A Story Together  

Download free coloring sheets and use the images to generate a holiday story. Everyone colors the pictures, and signs and dates their own. If you need more story inspiration, binge holiday movies, or Marvel/DC Comics movies, or whatever your family is in to. Type up the story, add the colored pictures, and label it “Volume 1.” Or, if your family is blessed with a techie mind, scan the pictures, narrate the story, and create a mini-movie. 

Next year you can produce the sequel. 

New Tradition:  The Gift of Volunteering

Helping your kids volunteer is a wonderful gift that keeps on giving. Research has shown that helping others physically triggers the happy hormones in your body. Once they feel that rush, your kids will want to volunteer again.

  • Volunteering makes people feel less helpless because they are out there actively doing good. 
  • It puts your present woes into perspective.
  • Helping a fellow person takes the focus off of your situation and shifts it to easing the problems of someone less fortunate.

There are so many things you can do!

  • Bake for a homeless shelter, or first responders. 
  • Send cards to deployed soldiers (the military may help you with postage). 
  • Babysit for free. 
  • Read to an elderly neighbor. 
  • Help out at an animal shelter. 
  • Work at a Soup Kitchen.
  • Assist a local house of worship packing donation boxes. 

Invite your kids to research opportunities to volunteer, then you decide when and where, because you need to make sure they can handle the situation (some situations may be too emotionally heavy for your more empathic children). This tradition is one of the most powerful gifts you can give you children.

For more New Traditions, see Making Wonderful Holiday Memories During a Not-So-Wonderful Time- Part 1and Part 3. 

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