Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

There’s no denying the holidays are different this year. The pandemic has put a wrench in everything, and while hope is certainly on the horizon, a lot of us will be unable to participate in the traditions we’re used to. Gatherings we’ve looked forward to year after year are abruptly canceled, or put off. Family we’ve longed to see for months won’t be able to make the visit. Traditions, recipes, parties, loved ones, all distanced from us for this year’s holiday season.

It’s hard. It’s a loss. It’s painful to approach the holidays knowing it just won’t be the same.

For anyone who goes through grief or trauma, the holidays can be difficult. This year, we’re all going through grief and trauma. 

I want you to give yourself permission to grieve this loss. Process this very heavy disappointment and sadness.

But then? I want you to give yourself something to look forward to. 

So many things we normally look forward to are canceled. So what can you plan for this holiday season that will add a source of joy and anticipation? 

It won’t be the same; that much is true. It won’t be everything you’ve been hoping for. But if you can add something special, something fun, no matter how small it might seem, that is a powerful way to give yourself some holiday joy.

Plan something out of the ordinary for Christmas Eve with your partner or roommates. Maybe a “Karaoke Christmas,” complete with green-and-red margaritas. Maybe order a murder mystery game to play over dinner. Or maybe plan a long bike ride or hike.

These might not be activities you normally do for Christmas, and they might feel strange in the face of a season that has longstanding traditions. But here’s the reality: no matter what happens, the holidays are going to feel strange. They’re going to feel different. It’s appropriate to grieve that. Then, if you can come to a place of acceptance for it, you can make that newness into something that will be memorable and joyful. Something that will bring those in your home together.

What new tradition can you start? What can you look forward to for Christmas?