The holiday season will undoubtedly look different amidst the current pandemic. Having to deal with changes can be difficult, and it can be easy to let these changes get us down. Due to the potential spread of COVID-19, families across the U.S. are foregoing their traditional holiday gatherings. After the hardships that 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused, it can be hard to accept that reality.

So much has been taken from us this year, and this holiday season we need to put forth extra effort to prevent these unfortunate consequences from stealing our joy. If we change our perspective, we can take these changes in stride, and see the new opportunities brought to us because of the pandemic. 

Upon closer inspection, positive sides to the pandemic are seen. Opportunities for virtual communication and connection have multiplied. With platforms like Zoom, connecting with loved ones across the world has never been easier. Even things like Discord, a communication app commonly used for gaming, can be used to stay connected while preventing the spread of COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, virtual platforms have undergone extensive software updates and technological advancements to make them more effective, safer and easier to use. The same social media platforms that we utilized before the pandemic are still available and we can take advantage of them.

Just because some families might not be able gather together in person does not mean that families cannot celebrate at all. Virtual events have continued to grow in popularity, and while helping your grandparents figure out technology through that very same technology may not be ideal, it is possible.

Use this year’s holiday season to start new traditions or try something different. For example, gift exchanges can still happen through the versatility of online shopping. The internet is full of great ideas, and if you can’t find something that fits, make your own. Come up with a brand new game or adapt an older idea. Be creative and think outside of the box. At the beginning of the pandemic, gaming platforms like Jackbox Games and Houseparty also became more popular. With access to a smart device, families and friends can gather virtually for game nights.

Another great idea is a virtual holiday dinner. Each household can enjoy the company of relatives through a video call while all enjoy a home-cooked meal in their respective homes. In-person gatherings can be possible through social distancing and the proper precautions, but for families, especially those with at-risk members, it may be better to remove all temptation and host a get-together virtually. 

Another great piece of advice is to remember the little things. Sometimes the parts of our day that make us the happiest are seemingly insignificant. Try sending hand-written letters to relatives or friends. Gifts do not have to be high-priced to have meaning. If a virtual gathering is daunting or too difficult, just call your relatives or send them flowers. Sometimes the simplest things can have the largest impact.

Don’t ignore the negative effects of COVID-19 and continue to be cautious throughout holiday celebrations. The cold weather brings with it more illnesses than just COVID-19, and the pandemic in combination with that should be cause for more vigilance. But, don’t forget to look for the positives and overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of family gatherings. Social distancing does not have to stop all socialization, so make a conscious decision to strengthen your long-distance relationships. Remember that while this is our current reality, it will not always be. We will get through this, but that may take much longer than we would hope.

Posted by Campus Carrier

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