Wicked Holiday Guide

This past Thanksgiving saw many American families — including mine — following CDC recommendations and replacing huge gatherings with more intimate get togethers. It’s likely that the CDC will recommend similar precautions for Christmas this year, and we’ve been planning for that.

This year, we will be changing some of our Christmas traditions. Usually my sister and her kids come over on Christmas morning and we exchange gifts and play games with about 20 people in our house. This year, it will just be my husband and I and our two children. Luckily, we all enjoy each other’s company (most of the time). And over the past few weeks as I was envisioning what the season would look like for us this year, I thought it would be a good idea to look for other traditions.

On Focus on The Fanily’s website I found an interesting suggestion for the Christmas season.

One family found books about Christmas in local thrift shops and garage sales. Then they searched for books that told the Christmas story from different perspectives and that demonstrated the true spirit of the season. The family wrapped each book individually, and starting early in December, the kids selected one book each night. They unwrapped the book and read it together as a family. That’s a good idea for any year, and we started that tradition this year. It was a lot of fun.

After thinking about the different perspectives in different books, I started to think about how different countries celebrate the holiday. My mother was born and raised in the Netherlands, so every year of my life I have been given a chocolate letter with the first letter of my name. In Holland, Chocolate letters are associated with the Dutch holiday of Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas). Celebrants of Sinterklaas are traditionally given their initials made out of chocolate, either on Sinterklaas Eve, which is the fifth of December each year, or during the morning on Sinterklaas Day, which is the sixth day of December.


Focus on Family also suggested making a keepsake ornament. One reader shared, “After my daughter was born, I bought a clear plastic Christmas ornament from a craft store and put her first hat and bracelet from the hospital in it. Every Christmas when we put the ornament on the tree, she is always interested in it and we talk about where she was born. I enjoy sharing how much we couldn’t wait to meet her and how loved she was from the moment of her birth.”

As for my family, on Christmas morning, as usual, we’re going to wake up early so our children can rip open their presents, but it’ll just be the four of us.

Here’s another tradition that my family started a few years ago that you might want to try: we’d answer some basic questions, like what’s your favorite smell? Who would you most like to look like? And what’s the first song you would listen to after seeing a sad movie? Stuff like that. We write the answers down in private and then my husband reads them and we all have to guess whose answers are whose. It’s always really funny.

You can also schedule times during the day to meet with your family via Zoom or FaceTime. Of course, it doesn’t replace getting together in person, but it’s better than nothing, and at least it provides some connection.

Finally, Christmas Day is the perfect time to watch your favorite holiday movies. This year, we’re going to vote on our favorites and watch the most popular ones at home on the couch. It’s A Wonderful Life and Elf will surely make the cut.

This year Christmas will be different than our past celebrations, but we’re grateful to have each other, and we still plan on enjoying our favorite time of year. And hopefully that will true of you and your family as well. Have a happy and healthy Christmas and here’s hoping we can get back to normal in 2021.

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