Masked Christmas; provided by StockSnap

December is always a month of celebration - finals are done, Christmas is coming, and the snow is usually still fresh on the ground. However, with the way things have been going this year, we may have to rethink our ideas of what a celebration constitutes, and how different it may have to look. For a while, we have not had a definitive end to the pandemic in sight, and it is still necessary that we choose not to travel long distances and risk the spread of the virus. Spending the holidays alone may be new and strange to many, but it is what the world needs right now. This may be the year to form new traditions for the holidays so that you can focus on what this time is really about, and here are a few ways you can do just that.

Making the holidays virtual

A semester filled with online classes has meant that we have collectively spent hundreds of hours in front of our computer screens in Zoom-based classes; but social events, especially at the beginning of this pandemic, have also been on this platform. This has made it easier for students to burnout and has made every mention of a virtual meeting exhausting. However, it is likely that the best way for you to meet with your family for the holidays will be over long video calls that will last many hours. It may fail to motivate you to be constantly engaged, but it is important to try to replicate the ongoings of the holidays and keep spirits up. One of the best ways to do this is to have activities planned so that everyone feels involved. This can be advent calendars that everybody has in their own homes, sending gifts to each other and opening them together on a specific day, or baking together. I would also suggest taking a break from spending extended hours with your devices beforehand in order to prevent any headaches or eye strain that can put a damper on the celebrations.

Feed your soul

Winter is the time to whip out warm, comforting recipes that remind you of how you celebrated the holidays in the past. If you are not familiar with making hot cocoa from scratch, use a store-bought mix and treat yourself to a mug of it on Christmas morning, or really any snowy day that might call for some. Find ways to continue taking care of yourself physically and emotionally with hearty soups that you can make easily so that you feel toasty on the inside as it snows outside your window. Try to find recipes to dishes you would usually eat during this time and make yourself a small, manageable feast, or try cooking something new that you can bring to your loved ones when it is safe to see each other again.  

Let the movies bring the Christmas cheer

A tradition that I believe everybody should partake in, even if you do not usually celebrate the actual holiday, is watching Christmas movies during the days leading up to the actual celebration. The beautifully filmed cities and countrysides with their heartfelt stories and lingering lessons about life and love, are always an easy way to let the holiday spirit enter your home without much effort on your part. Personally, my list always includes Home Alone (1990), Love Actually (2003), and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), but make your own list of essential films with the aspects of the holidays that are important to you. For example, my list, I have found, focuses on family, traditions, and generally having fun during this time of the year as much as possible. Start building yours by going over some of the classics of the season, or by rewatching movies from your childhood.  

Being grateful by giving instead of receiving

One of the values that I have consistently held throughout my upbringing, and my current stint as a self-sufficient adult, is being grateful for the things I do have. As a skill that I continue to try honing, gratitude helps focus my attention on the nonmaterial things in life that bring me happiness, and this holiday season it can be especially helpful. One of the ways to do this is by helping others. Giving to those who might need it, rather than receiving, this holiday season can actually help you feel better. Find ways to give to your local food banks and shelters, or other charities that can help people stay safe this winter. If you are able to financially donate, support healthcare and hospital charities in your province. An easy way to help out is also to stay in as much as possible so that you are not exposing yourself or anybody else to the virus. Being grateful can be recognising all the ways in which you can help those who might need it this holiday season and shifting your perspective on what a celebration entails so that you are making it easier for somebody else to participate in the holiday cheer.