I meant to write about this earlier this year when lock downs began and I noticed a lot of parents (moms mostly) freaking out about how to celebrate Easter without extended family. How could it be special for their kids, won’t their kids be so disappointed about not having everyone around, and a bunch of comments about how sad the Easter egg hunt would be and other comments along those lines. I ran out of time to post anything but now that we are looking at the second wave with Halloween and Christmas coming our way (and Thanksgiving for the US) I thought now might be the time – I just want to reassure you that even if your celebrations needs to be small this year, your kids are still going to love them (just as long as you do).
So, here’s why I feel I can comment on this situation and offer some suggestions on how to celebrate small but still have an amazing holiday/special occasion. For the past seven years my husband has been working away (sometimes referred to as the FIFO – Fly In Fly out – life). Over the past seven years almost every holiday and typical special occasion like anniversaries, tooth fairy visits and birthdays has been held without him physically with the family. We were really fortunate for the first 6 years and he was home for Christmas but a schedule change last year means he wasn’t home then and likely not for the next few. We started this life when my daughter was 6 and we lived a full days drive away from our closest family. We know a thing or two about small celebrations.
The first thing you need to know: your kids will only feel the impact of not having a huge gathering of people if YOU make it a big deal. Chill out and check your own reactions. Does it suck, yeah it’s not great. Is the worst thing in the world – no. What is great is that it gives you is the opportunity to slow down and evaluate all your old traditions and figure out which ones you really want to keep doing.
Here’s some thoughts on the next couple of holidays:
This one is tough in the FIFO world – it’s impossible to give out treats and take your kid trick or treating. On this one you just need to make a choice – with the covid world the advice is the same, choose one, don’t try and do it all. Make a choice, give out candy if you want or take your kid trick or treating. If you time it right you might be able to do both – give out candy early in the evening then shut the lights off and take you kids out. If you can’t do both, don’t. Chose the one that will make you and your kids happiest (and safest!)
For my Canadian friends, this section is a bit late but my American friends will now just be starting to think of Thanksgiving. In the past Thanksgiving is the one holiday for us that usually ends up being just me and the Kid. We’ve learned to simplify the meal and focus on what we actually enjoy. My daughter doesn’t actually like turkey and honestly a turkey for two people is LOT – so we switched to a reasonable sized baked ham. Neither of us actually likes pumpkin pie so we opt out of that tradition. This is a great opportunity to really customize Thanksgiving to feature favorite foods (and maybe reduce the amount of dishes that need to be done at the end of the night!
Other Ideas to Help with the Celebrations
Zoom – Everyone is doing it these days – set up an mobile device and set a time to connect with everyone over dinner. With everyone embracing this technology you could actually end up with more people at dinner than you usually would have!
Skip making the meal altogether and check out what local restaurants are doing. This past Thanksgiving I discovered that local restaurants were offering a precooked meal to pick up so we gave that a shot. All I needed to do was reheat everything (instructions were included) it was amazing! Our meal came from MidTown Station in Kelowna and even included some cute table decor and Thanksgiving napkins. This took the stress out of planning and cooking the meal and let us just relax and enjoy our small celebration.
This one will be tricky without a doubt. I already see moms worried about pictures with Santa and how that will work so I know everyone is looking ahead to the holidays.
You can still have a really lovely and meaningful Christmas with just your immediate family or even just part of your family – trust me, we’ve done it. Take the opportunity now to really think about what you love about Christmas and what you don’t. Have a tradition that you actually hate? Now is your time to phase that out. Always wanted to start a new traditions? This is the time! The key here is not focusing on what you are missing and instead shifting the focus on what you can do.
What I am Looking forward to this holiday:
Dinner to Go – I really hope that we can get another pick it up and reheat it dinner for Christmas. I’ll still make a few family favourites but really hope I don’t have to make everything!
Christmas Breakfast – last year I started a new tradition (it was as easy as saying – I’m starting a new tradition) and making cinnamon buns. Prep on Christmas Eve while watching a movie, pop them in the over on Christmas morning while presents are being opened. It was great, and actually way easier than expected!
Go Outside – without the time constraints of a big dinner and working around other people’s schedules, go outside and do something as a family – go skiing, skating, take a walk through your favourite park or for the really adventurous – go for a paddle!
I can’t stress enough that fact that if you (mom) make it a big deal that the family is missing out on the huge family dinner or bonfire or Christmas morning with a dozen people, that your kid will also make a big deal about it. If you chose to be focus on what you CAN do as a family your kids will have an amazing holiday!
This year has been so challenging for everyone, lets all just slowdown over these next few months, keep life simple and be kind to everyone (including yourself).