When You Christmas Alone   

Have y’all noticed that Christmas came a lot earlier this year? I feel like we boxed up the Halloween décor and brought the Elf onto the shelf on November 1st. If you’re like most Americans living through this global pandemic, your tree was trimmed and decorated before you even created your Thanksgiving menu. During this COVID-19 fatigue, the holidays have become a beacon of hope for so many of us. We need that hopefulness, the joy of the season, to help keep us going as we continue to live in the shadow of this horrible disease.

Like so many of you, I’ve been thinking about Christmas since the colder weather swooped down into Georgia; when the peaches disappeared and the pumpkins and fresh cranberries crowded the entrance of our local supermarket. I’ve been busy thinking about ways to spoil my family while being mindful that financially all of us are struggling this year, so our gifts might be more frugal and meaningful instead.

So for all the years for us to not be scheduled to spend Christmas with either of our children, this holiday season is just different. We are doing separate and smaller celebrations with my parents and our children in order to keep everyone safe and maintain #socialdistance with my elderly parents—and this means I won’t see either of my children on Christmas Day. It’s not the Christmas I envisioned, especially after Cory’s battle with COVID-19 earlier this year. I wish we could all be together for the holidays, but the schedule is the schedule, and since I don’t want to cause any problems for either of my children with their in-laws or health wise, we’re going to make the best of the holidays despite an unconventional year.

Whether it’s just not your year to celebrate with your children, or if you’re being careful about COVID-19 and have decided it’s best to celebrate with a smaller pod than usual, there are so many ways to still make the holiday season meaningful and joyful! Here are a couple of suggestions to make Christmas special this year, even if you’re celebrating without your family and friends:

Lori Allen baking with her granddaughters at home in Atlanta, GA
Lori Allen with her parents during the holiday season
  • Prioritize Your Traditions and Observe Them – We have some family traditions that we won’t be able to do together this year, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore them! This year, Eddie and I have prioritized which traditions are most important to us, and we are still going to observe them even if it’s a scaled-down version. That means baking Christmas cookies with my granddaughters weeks in advance, making smaller portions of our favorite Christmas desserts, and sitting down at a beautifully decorated table for a festive, Christmas dinner, even if it’s just the two of us. 
    • It’s the Season to Sparkle – I usually take this literally and love to wear lots of glitter and sparkle to our holiday parties with family and friends. Since this year, we’re not partying like we used to, we’re looking forward to taking in the sparkle of lights in our  neighborhood. Eddie, Chloe, and I are looking forward to bundling up and walking around our neighborhood to look at all the beautiful lights and decorations. All over the world, people are getting into their cars or driving to new communities to take in the lights, then capping off the night with mugs of hot cocoa and marshmallows in front of the fire. It’s a cozy way to feel the holiday spirit!
      • Spread Joy to the World – OK, maybe not the world, but at least to the people closest to you and in your community. I feel so good about giving to others during the holiday season, it’s something that I’m not going to avoid doing just because Christmas looks different this year. Christmas shop early and ship gifts to your loved ones so that they have presents to open from you on the holiday, bake cookies or buy little tokens of appreciation to the members of your community who have been tirelessly fighting the pandemic. Donate coats and gifts to families in need this year through your local Church or Salvation Army. You’ll see how special the holidays will feel once you take some time to give to others. And be sure to shop local when you can!
    • 12 Days of Christmas – There’s no reason why you can’t celebrate the holidays throughout the entire month of December! It’s not the same as opening gifts on Christmas morning, but flexibility is the keyword here, and we’re going to do whatever we can, when we can, to celebrate the holidays. That might mean a small outdoor picnic (weather permitting) with distant relatives, or a festive meal around the firepit, even doing a gift exchange somewhere in nature where everyone can safely rub elbows and make some new memories. 
  • It’s okay to feel a little down this holiday season, I think a lot of us will feel some sadness mingled with the joy of the season. I’m counting so many blessings this year, that I’m truly looking forward to Christmas. Even if this scaled-down version isn’t ideal, at least we have the good health of all of our family, and for that I’m grateful. What will your holidays look like this year? Share with us in the comments! Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and happy holidays.

Until next time,

Lori Allen