Wow, it’s been awhile my friends. In fact, it’s been eight months and three days since my last blog post. That’s nuts, but it’s also a pandemic folks. Writing has always been super therapeutic for me, but the last eight months have needed more than therapy. For much of it, I was trying to work from home, teach my five year old, and parent him and my two year old. By myself, as my husband is essential. It was full on survival mode.
Summer hit, and things felt a little better, but still not normal. In September we returned to in person school, but that was different too. At the time of writing this, we are remote again. Funny enough, for the first time in eight months, I have a weird sense of normalcy. Things are far from normal, but it feels like a new normal. Not an amazing new normal, as there is still a lot of craziness out there, but normal enough for me to find my writing voice again. With that voice, I’m bringing more normalcy by writing about one of my favorite times of the year. It’s holiday time!! And even though the holidays may look different than any holiday we’ve done before, I’m going to share three ways we plan to make them totally not suck.
Sticking With Old Traditions
I’m huge on family traditions. I’m also a wannabe minimalist, so I find ways to make them inexpensive, and experience based. A few of my favorites, that are definitely pandemic friendly, are below.
1.) Acts of Kindness
Every December 1st we put out jars with each of my kids names on them. I put slips of paper in each jar with acts of kindness on them, and they each draw one slip a night until Christmas.
Some acts are really simple. Examples might be, tell a family member that you love them, or read a book to a younger sibling. Some may be more complicated. Our favorites in the past have been to fill carts at Aldi with quarters, or bringing cookies to the fire department or police department. This year we will probably use some clorox wipes on the quarters, and deliver store bought cookies. The intent is still the same, but with some safety precautions in place. The best part is, that you can do whatever works for your family! The link below shows some other great examples.
2.) Christmas Eve Box
Each year on Christmas Eve our three children open up a special box. Inside, they find matching pajamas, a new Christmas movie, candy, hot chocolate, popcorn and an ornament. Each of them receives a personal ornament, highlighting something special from their year. Previous ornaments have highlighted trips to Disney, favorite characters or favorite activities. We hang the ornaments on the tree, get a great picture in the matching pj’s, and finish the night with the Christmas movie. The matching pajamas also make great pictures for Christmas morning. Etsy is a great place to find unique ornaments, while supporting individuals instead of large corporations.
3.) Picking Out the Perfect Tree
For some unknown reason, when we moved into our home, we started the tradition of cutting our own Christmas tree. We go to a fairly secluded farm nearby, hike out to the trees and find the perfect one. It’s always a fun little game, and our oldest always seems to find the perfect tree. The kids take turns cutting, and ride back on the tarp that drags the tree. It’s silly, fun and definitely a wonderful tradition. With masks added this year, we intend to keep it up.
4.) Tree Trimming and Christmas Music
When we get the tree home, we set it up in the living room, warm up the hot chocolate and start the Christmas music. My husband has some vintage Christmas records that he adores, and we play them while we decorate. Each family member has ornaments from years past that they hang, and then we have a pile of family ornaments that we do together. Ornaments are our go to souvenir when we travel, so it’s the perfect way to bring back old memories. We often finish up with a Christmas movie, and at least half of us fall asleep.
Starting New Traditions
Yes, some of our old traditions are still feasible, 2020 is definitely not going to allow for all of our family traditions. What better opportunity, though, to make new traditions? 2020 provides the perfect excuse to reinvent the holidays.
1.) Personalized Santa Snacks Placemat
I can’t believe I have never seen these before, but this year I discovered Santa mats. They are so darn cute, and can be used year after year. They bring a certain charm to your milk and cookies, and can definitely become a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. I’m so excited to start this tradition with my kiddos, so excited in fact that I made my own for them. A link to my Etsy store for the one I made is below. Even if that’s not your cup of tea, there are many variations out there to get this fun tradition started.
2.) Watching As Many Christmas Movies As Humanly Possible
Okay, in reality, I kind of started this tradition last year. But now I’m all in. A Christmas movie every night? Why not? Three on a Saturday? Who cares?
I’m usually fairly strict about screens with my kids. I want them playing outside or using their imagination. Honestly, though, what could be better when you are snowed in during a pandemic than snuggling in front of a Christmas movie? Plus, there is always a happy ending! It sounds like the perfect recipe for a pandemic Christmas. The more Christmas movies the better this year!
I’m not going to pretend to be a saint here and act like every single gift I am buying this year is local. I am trying to be more intentional about supporting people over corporations, though. When I think of shopping local, I include Etsy in my thought process. The majority of people with Etsy shops are small business owners trying to stay afloat. Amazon, Walmart and Target have enough money. Small businesses have been hit hard this year, and need your money more than ever. I have highlighted some Etsy shops below that I’ve either recently bought some great items from.
We Are Earth Goods
This shop specializes in Natural Home Products. Their products are super reasonably priced, great quality, and ship really fast. I recently bought some linen bags to store face masks in, and I absolutely love them.
This shop sells pre-made packets with everything that you need to make Elderberry syrup. Elderberry syrup is a great addition to your wellness regime. It has great immune booster properties, and I plan to add some wellness baskets as gifts this holiday season.
Kyle and Ivy Shop
I just bought the CUTEST hooded blankets from this shop for my youngest two children. I was looking for throw blankets just for them, and found these great ones with hoods. I just know that they will be snuggled up with them all winter. As I was browsing their shop I also noticed some great t-shirts, and unicorn wear for the young ones.
So, yes, this holiday season will be different. Many people have suffered, especially financially or with effects from COVID-19. But, our kids can still have a holiday. They will react to your reactions, and it can be okay because you will make it okay. That is what we do as parents, after all. Happy holidays all!