What makes the holidays meaningful? For most of us, it’s spending time with our loved ones and participating in beloved traditions. This year, the holiday season may have a different look and feel—less people, more masks. But that shouldn't stop you from imbuing your holidays with meaning.
It’s still possible to connect with family, value your traditions, and experience a rewarding holiday season, especially if you’re willing to be flexible and adaptable. “You don’t have to give up your holidays on any level—you just have to reimagine them a little bit,” says Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, program coordinator for intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health services at Providence Saint John's Child and Family Development Center in Santa Monica.
Consider these 14 ideas to bring meaning and moments of connection to the holidays this year.
1. Visit Santa—virtually.
Skip lines in favor of a virtual visit to Santa. You’ll get the familiar face and outfit—not to mention the booming “Ho, ho, ho”—through video chats or apps.
Keeping up with annual traditions, like the standard Santa visit, is important, reminds Dr. Mendez. It’s a hopeful message, and one that “validates an expectation that life continues to have meaning in a way that’s familiar and predictable,” she says. But don’t just institute the tweaked tradition. Discuss it first.
“Talking to young children about modifications or changes, while still meeting their expectations of the experiences that have been familiar and fun, reinforces a sense of security, flexibility, and joy for them,” Dr. Mendez says.
To up the magic on these virtual visits, parents can act as helpful elves, sharing tips about their child’s interests and hobbies before the virtual visit. Best of all: Some of these Santa services provide a recorded video of the conversation, for rewatching or sharing with grandparents. Search online for options.