As I stood at the kitchen island tying my apron strings, I caught a glimpse of my husband walking into the great room. There was sadness in his eyes that first holiday after his mother had passed away. That was years ago, but I still remember the visibility of his silent struggle.
It’s no secret that bereavement increases during the holidays. For many, grief and COVID-19 restrictions signify celebrations without loved ones.
So, how do we create a joyous holiday without extended family or those we’ve lost?
Self-care is the best gift we can give to ourselves and our loved ones. It’s a gift that will move us forward to a happy future.
Enter a journey of self-care by reflecting on past holidays and note what gave you joy, made you laugh, or feel contented. Then plan ways to recreate those activities (and perhaps a new one) that will inspire a day worth celebrating.
If you are single:
- LOVE yourself with all the things you adore. Pets, cozy blankets, DVDs, music, books, snacks, etc. Make this a day to pamper you.
- Forget tradition. Cook what you want without domineering suggestions from others. Or order a holiday dinner from your local deli.
- REACH OUT to loved ones with a holiday cheer via phone or Zoom. Plan to end conversations with humor. It will leave you and them uplifted instead of sad and lonely.
- Studies show breathing fresh air can improve one’s mood. So, spend some time in a park, on a bike trail or walking path.
If you and your immediate family can’t gather with extended family members:
- Give yourself and your family GRACE. Grace to be less rushed, less perfect, less insistent to follow traditions.
- Decorate as usual (use the china and candles) or not. Maybe the family would enjoy a dinner party on cozy floor cushions.
- EMBRACE unhappy emotions, but don’t stay there longer than it takes to recite a poem, song, or Bible verse.
- Gather around the phone or monitor to speak with extended family. For a joyful virtual reunion, keep it light and uplifting.
That first holiday after my mother-in-law had passed away, it was just the two of us. My husband joined me with the meal preparations. Food sampling and laughter filled the kitchen. When everything was ready, we sat at the dining room table with flickering candlelight. A little self-care and comfort food served on china from my mother-in-law lightened his heart and brought joy to the holiday.