How do you celebrate covid christmas with kids?

    As described in the companion post, there are a lot of feels happening in the lead-in to the holidays this year. Check that post out for how to deal with those feelings, before getting tucked into what to do about this year...

    With the world struggling to flatten the curve of the second wave of the pandemic, just as it threatens to become a tsunami, a lot of people are wondering 'what is going to happen to Christmas?'

    What indeed?

    As I wrote earlier, about alternative festive Halloween optionsthe way it is done is not the way it has always been done.

    What to do about this year, indeed...

    Some of the feedback I received about that Halloween post is why I wrote the companion to this one, before writing this. In reality, people can't hear the solution to a problem until the problem is accurately and fully described. Feeling trapped, expecting disappointment, feeling ripped off, or powerless or fearful are all in the way of understanding what the problem really is. So, if you haven't already dealt with all the emotions this season is bringing up for you, take a peek at that other post first ... The Forty Dollar Christmas by A.M. Offenwanger

    **Edited to add** A long-time friend has written a sweet little book about celebrating the holidays, called The Forty Dollar Christmas, a Canadian Holiday Story by A.M. Offenwanger, and I am thrilled to support her endeavours but also to offer to you a free copy: read all about it here, and fill in the email form on the amo vitam blog page here to get the coupon code for your very own...

    Just Like Always...

    Original cover, Unplug the Christmas MachineWe humans love our traditions and habits, nearly as much as we love air ... but there is a book out there in the world called Unplug the Christmas Machine for a reason. 

    As we collect our life's experiences, and are offered novel ideas and opportunities, these people on Earth are a little overly inclined to hold onto things they've collected, and find themselves amid a flurry of holiday activities and obligations and objects and decorations and food that proves one simple thing year after year: people are good at surviving ice ages and plagues and wars and natural disasters and famines and new technology and scarcity far better than they are at handling abundance.

    When offered a million things and ideas and fun activities and decorations and types of foods, the average person is inclined to go overboard. Apparently, 7000 calories in a single day type of overboard, if the average number of calories eaten on Christmas Day alone are to be believed... All the parties and all the shopping and all the wrapping and all the lighting and all the decorations and all the cards and all the cookies and all of the food and all of the gifts and all of the all of it, all packed into about 6 weeks of stress and motion and too many things. 

    Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg, 'marche de Noel Christkindelsmarik' place de Broglie by (vincent desjardins) cc: attrib/comm use https://www.flickr.com/photos/endymion120/4840710279/in/photolist-8nKUw4-8YDWsU-r6kGvH-4fB2ko-7D4Psn-qxRezz-9eXbE-sCgVQ-4L4WCW-4h2GDd-8bw4Hw-4h2HMs-5FSjJG-5LU9As-5F35qU-aUyRCD-28983BB-i9g3Sf-P9prek-iSBncE-5eYzAe-26La7Mb-dbzHuU-767XJ4-26KELPc-5f6zWB-5faDNw-8UTS6d-5eYGpR-5cV4em-5f3FFY-5cQWYB-5cQKHg-5eZqei-5d5MkQ-5eYvrM-5cV8Ns-5f4krj-5cUKcG-5eYpxc-5f3wxu-5d1ert-5cUpwi-5cQjtH-5d1hPB-5f59qJ-5f4G19-5d5FUE-5f3J4d-5d5yHWUnplug the Christmas Machine wasn't written because the authors had just had the unrivaled perspective of lockdown in a small condo with growing kids to change the lens on what might happen at Christmas, just a mounting number of 'more' of everything every year that made them hear the common question: how can we reduce the stress around this time of year?

    Happily, the book is still in print, and it is lovely --I recommend it, without affiliate links.

    What I took away from this book, oh so many years ago, and why I recommend it particularly this year, is one really important perspective this book offers that is refreshing and helpful:

    What do you really love about the holidays?

    What does your family really love about the holidays?

    Why are you doing anything else?

    Do you love walking around the neighbourhood on cold nights looking at the light displays? You can still do that... why not expand your route a bit more, or head off to other neighbourhoods to walk there and see what they do? Why not make it a nightly walk from now on, and see who has their lights up earliest, and latest, and watch the progress of the really big displays building? Bring along some hot chocolate or tea or your drink of choice, and score sheets... Make up your own contest for who wins, in whatever categories your family likes: the biggest and weirdest, or brightest and boldest, the most cut outs, the least inspired... or whatever you find remarkable about them. It would be fun to mail a card to the winners, so they can enjoy knowing that they made an impression on their neighbours.

    Christmas Cookies by Theo Crazzolara cc: attrib/comm use, https://www.flickr.com/photos/theocrazzolara/49153406658/in/photolist-2hTw4jA-2i1aJPA-iGmfjk-iGq44Y-2dH22e6-2d9zsb-2hViLWf-SFgZNf-2k9h16t-BABR1V-9b7p8y-9b7p37-2kajsdC-CiYTkt-RoWsEQ-2kaf9LT-QreeSk-HeAyJc-2hYsb7R-7q4amK-97RpcL-dKzbew-dz3Wyp-izEdo2-2i96mXr-dKzaz7-5HEUa8-aZJnmn-dKzbAU-CLvZND-dKtGgp-pyZvrZ-dKtFLa-4gvm7f-RoWsj9-RoWt21-Q9BERa-tYZxD-uHAZH-7oZxER-7p4pGj-7oZxAa-7p4pTU-aZJmJv-7oZxCP-aZJnWD-94e5Z1-7oZxwH-7LBZN-dGmSDo you hate baking? Buy it, or skip it if you don't even like eating it. It isn't required, you know? You can eat oreos and it will still really be the holidays.

    Do you hate wrapping gifts? Invent spray wrap... or just use gift bags. You can even {shudder} not wrap at all, and just write on the boxes with sharpie, if you want.

    You know, there are actually NO RULES. 

    No rules.

    Think about that, when you think about how you might actually relax and enjoy the holidays this year... and maybe next year, too.

    If you find you like your little in-house Christmas with only your family, you could make a new rule: not visitors or visiting on Christmas Day (or for 3 days on either side of Christmas Day, if you're a family of happy intraverts!) and revel in the peace and ease of it for the rest of your life.

    If you hate cleaning and all the mess and decorating and cooking, go to a local hotel for three days over Christmas. All the money you save on all the stuff you don't want to do will probably cover quite a nice one.

    You know, there are actually NO RULES. 

    Carolers preparing to go caroling by Doug Floyd, cc: attrib/sharealike https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougfloyd/331754034/in/photolist-vjjLC-vjjV9-vjiFkLove the peace and joy of the church choirs? Go to all of the outdoor performances you can find. Watch them on YouTube. Sing along at home, if you love to sing, even if you're not a nightingale. Love singing during the holidays? Take it to the streets, and wassail the neighbourhood. 

    Love parlour games? Play Charades or Chase Your Neighbour, or Find the Slipper, or Twister or Cards Against Humanity or Trivial Pursuit, or gin rummy or whist or whatever you like. Putting around the house is more fun than you'd expect, as long as the kids can be reasonably trusted to keep the balls on the floor (no lofting!) or use pompoms and dollar store putters... get the kids to make the course and see if the adults can beat them at it.

    If you love mind games or mysteries, play a Murder Mystery night, or even six of them... or make a treasure hunt with visual or written clues, depending on the abilities of your kids. Or let them make one. 

    Turn off the screens for a while, or put on the firplace (a funny thing that started in my hometown, and you can now buy on video if your cable supplier doesn't just have it running all the time this month) --oh, man, it's on YouTube in a 4 hour loop! Hand crafts, puzzles, colouring or painting or drawing, while telling stories or listening to books or podcasts or music, is a delighful way to spend an evening (or a month.)

    DSCF7615 by Vicky Sorsby, cc: attrib/comm use https://www.flickr.com/photos/vicky_sorsby/6473234603/in/photolist-aS228a-2q5Vtq-ftqdp2-7njCw6-fpgWnp-8MCb1s-8TAcB4-8HaoGZ-dur4aQ-aS2efx-aS235i-aS246a-fpwa1N-2q5TQY-aS29Jx-aS28u2-2dH7x3K-8YYmKN-zZc7-8Zmz6F-8YYoRo-4gmUJb-8YYo9J-8YYnrL-8YVk8T-8ZpEg5-8YVjsT-7njKUV-aS264X-aZXLAg-7kMiC8-7noxBs-7nozkL-vvMeb-7bn6p-7bn6o-7bn6n-BaDkfV-7omE6i-5U6meE-7cCUFJ-2jEK9tV-7tgjb1-2iaAWhN-BGFVji-97jvev-BTVYVR-AmBCjq-7rVvkZ-5n4CYtOne of the most delightful traditions I ever heard of, a lovely mom from Gabriola Island off BC's West Coast had her kids all wrapped up in the fun of surprising and delighting each other at Christmas, initially to take their minds off the greed over what they were going to get. It evolved into elaborate, deeply personalized gifts (mostly hand made, and often experiences rather than stuff) that really understood the recipient and proved how much they cared for --and noticed--each other.

    Regarding the terminal case of 'gimme' that kids often get at this time of year, I have a bunch of recommendations in this old seasonal post: Overwhelmed Already? Tis the (frantic) season (in a few weeks.) A lot of those ideas work well in a climate of 'oops, there's no extra money for celebrating this year.'

    Other sad reality of covid-time holidays is the economic outlook for so many. Most of the suggestions above (and in that old blog post) are budget-friendly if not totally free... as Christmas used to mostly be. 




    Diane Young says (4-Dec-2020):

    You're brilliant you know. oxxoxo


    Linda Clement says (4-Dec-2020):

    Thanks, Mommy!

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