As the holidays approach, it’s easy to bemoan the things we WON’T be doing this year. Big family gatherings, seasonal office parties, elaborate New Year’s gatherings—not likely this year! But before we allow the Quarantine Grinch to steal our spirit, I challenge you to consider how we can still savor and celebrate our end-of-the-year holidays.
I don’t want to minimize the very real hardships and grief that some of our members have experienced this past year. Losing normal activities, jobs or even loved ones during this pandemic has taken their toll on many of us. The losses for some can seem overwhelming, something we all need to recognize. Yet all the more reason for those of us who are ending the year battered, but not quite so bruised, to reach out to lift the spirits of others. We need to acknowledge these real losses and then focus on ways to make the holidays a little happier for others—and ourselves.
Philosophers and psychologists tell us the way to “do” holidays is to reach out to others and count our blessings. Counting our blessings, however, can be challenging during this time of COVID-19. It may require us to reach deep and look creatively. For example, those who question “What’s to be grateful in December 2020?” might conclude ruefully that we can indeed be grateful this year is finally ending! We can focus on small daily treats and take note of daily moments of joy and peace.
By now we’ve already celebrated many post-COVID holidays, birthdays, and weddings celebrations. We’ve discovered creative ways to connect—Zooming, drive-by birthdays, Zoomversaries. We can continue that creativity and refashion new holiday traditions. For example, perhaps this year we’ll go all out decorating because we’re home to appreciate the decorations. Our cookie exchanges may mean we’ll be dropping off the cookies on each participant’s porch; the seasonal card list may grow as we reach out more and share more personal notes. While the gifts may be fewer, they may be more carefully chosen or even homemade.
And within our “bubble” of safe in-person connections, we can rejoice in smaller but no less rewarding gatherings. Just because the holiday meal may only include two or three guests doesn’t mean we shouldn’t dress up the table (and ourselves!) for the fancy feast of healthy whole food plant goodness we’ll create. You get the idea—it may take some creativity but we can outsmart any grinches who try to dampen our spirits.
For PBNM members, counting our blessings and reaching out can have real meaning during these upcoming holidays as we appreciate the health and wisdom of a plant-based life and reach out to others with healthy treats and recipes. That is indeed worth sharing and celebrating!