Across the country, Americans are preparing for what are arguably our nation’s most-celebrated holidays — Thanksgiving, Chanukah (Hanukkah), Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve.

These holidays will, like those that have already been celebrated this year, no doubt look quite different from what many (most?) of us are used to.

Rather than lament what is not, it’s time now to think about what we can do so our holidays are the best — and safest — possible. That they are, as much as possible, days that are full of life and joy and love. 

A little planning can go a long way to making that a reality. In considering some steps you need to take as you plan, I’ll use Thanksgiving as an example. Of course, these same steps can be applied to any/all of the holidays you observe.

First, it’s important to consider how you want to celebrate the holidays. Be honest; it’s okay to think only of your own “wants” for a few minutes. Do you prefer a big meal with all the trimmings prepared by you in your own kitchen, or would a potluck or a buffet of meat & cheese trays, fruit & vegetables and dips, etc., be more to your liking? What about a zoom gathering instead? A socially-distanced family picnic at a nearby park? Remember, you’re thinking only of your own personal preferences at this point. 

Second, now consider the preferences of those with whom you hope to spend the holiday. As much as possible, have a candid discussion — preferably one on one — with the people whose plans are most enmeshed with your own. This would include a spouse/significant other, of course, and likely your children, and maybe your parents or other family or friends. Urge them to share their own feelings openly and honestly, and don’t judge, criticize, become defensive, etc., if what they share doesn’t sit well with you. Listen closely and be attentive to any fears they may be feeling. Some may be concerned about their own and their loved ones’ health; others may be fearful that if the traditional celebration isn’t held, they’ll be alone for the holiday. 

Third, consider your own preferences, those of your loved ones, and any practices you are committed to in order to safeguard your own health and the health of anyone who may take part. There is, of course, conflicting information and advice being offered by the news media, social media, etc. Do your research and look to credible and reliable sites for your information. Then determine the plan that you feel is best for you and any loved ones.

(The CDC has prepared some guidelines that you may find helpful: CDC “COVID-19 Holiday Celebrations”

Fourth, once you (and your spouse/significant other, you have one) have come up with the holiday plan that you feel is best for you, that will bring you the greatest possible joy, happiness and peace of mind, share your plans with those who need to be notified. Do so with love and patience, keeping in mind that your plans may significantly impact them, even when you can’t “see” that. Don’t argue, don’t become defensive, and don’t over-explain. A simple, “After much thought, I/we have decided that this year for Thanksgiving . . .” 

Five, now it’s time to lay the groundwork for whatever you’ve decided to do. Have fun with this! Make your celebration as low-key or as big as you want. 

Don’t just let the holidays pass you by. Instead, live them to their fullest!

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to share your own ideas for holiday celebrations 2020-style via a comment below!!