With November quickly ticking by, I am officially back home in California for the remainder of the fall semester. And while I would normally rejoice at the idea of spending the holidays with my family and hometown friends, this year has been an anomaly. On November 19th, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, officially announced a limited Stay-At-Home order for the state’s residents. Other states have made similar calls, and considering the dramatic rise in cases, I expect my city to go into full-on lockdown mode again sometime soon. For a Christmas fanatic like myself, the idea of such a dull holiday season is incredibly disheartening. In fact, after such a horrible year, I was genuinely entranced by the thought of a December full of decorative lights, yummy but fattening foods, cheesy old Christmas movies, traditional holiday music, and lots of time with my family. Unfortunately, the pandemic will deteriorate the qualities many of us associate with this time of year, but I still believe the spirit of Christmas is palpable no matter what. On that note, here are some tips I have for staying festive throughout this very unconventional holiday season.
- Grab your Christmas tree or any other holiday decorations, and deck the halls with Fa-La-La!
Yes, I agree, it may feel silly to decorate and fill our homes with frivolous decorations when the world is subtly crumbling down around us… but it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy. Life has thrown many curve balls our way, and while this odd winter is one of them, we should continue to celebrate and appreciate the things we do have control of. The spirit of Christmas, as Scrooge would likely agree, lives deep within all of us, and even if it’s a bit hard to coax out this year, there’s no harm in feeling festive. Fill your home with things that make you feel happy and cheery, such as ornaments or even your favorite dreidel, and enjoy the beauty of the holiday season. Plus, if we’re spending even more time inside this year, we might as well do so in a jolly environment! I am personally obsessed with Home Good’s holiday section and already purchased a candle that smells of peppermint bark… mhmm!
- Give back to your community.
Many of us associate the holiday season with presents wrapped in big red bows, but a large part of it is actually the physical act of giving. And as a Christian who not only celebrates the Hallmark side of Christmas but also the birth of Jesus, the idea of giving back to my community is especially important this time of year. I think the same rings true for many other religions and even the general population as well. This November and December, I encourage all my friends and readers to help spread a little holiday cheer in someone else’s life. Whether this means baking a pie for your neighbor, sending a letter to your mother-in-law, or working at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, take part in the gift of giving. Not only will you make someone else’s day just a bit better this holiday season, but you may also feel a sense of gratification and gratitude as well. There’s always a way to give back to others, even during a pandemic. Being thoughtful is possible any time of the year.
- Hit play on your favorite holiday song or movie and take a step back from work.
Most, if not all of us, are utterly drained from this year. From the massive onslaught of bad news in 2020 to the draining nature of quarantine, there hasn’t been much time to sit back and relax. And even in the sparse moments that we do take a break, it’s hard not to find ourselves consumed by the varying distractions. This holiday season, we should all take some time to indulge in the little things that help make this time of year extra special. Pull out an old copy of Charlie Brown’s Christmas or watch Will Ferrel run around in tights in Elf, and spend some time away from the chaos. Christmas music and movies are inherently happy, and we all deserve a second to surround ourselves with positive, uplifting energy. Besides, the news and everything else will still be there after your little R&R time. Just a little tip as well, Mariah Carey’s Christmas music is a sure-fire way to feel extra jolly this December!
- Don’t be afraid to pull out your holiday swag!
Okay, I know, ugly Christmas sweaters are well… ugly! While putting on a red, chunky sweater may not be the exact definition of fashion-forward, they sure are fun! And like I’ve said, it’s often the little things that help make the holiday season feel extra bright, and dressing up in red and green for Christmas, or blue and gold for Chanukah, will allow you to have a pep in your step no matter where you go. So, don’t be afraid to pull out your favorite sweater and wear it for some extra holiday fun. Plus, holiday swag doesn’t have to be ugly! Wearing a good oversized sweater as you gather around a fireplace is inherently cozy, and it will be the perfect amount of indulgence as the days get colder. For even more fun, dress your dogs up in their very own Christmas sweaters! My two Yorkies have their own red cable-knit sweaters, and they look absolutely adorable. Their cuteness is only amplified in a puppy-sized outfit, and it makes me even happier while stuck inside for the holidays.
- Heat up your oven and bake.
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is undoubtedly chowing down on some sugar cookies or peppermint bark. Sure, sweets taste yummy all year long, but they have a special flavor around Christmas time. I can’t really explain it, but the holidays make everything taste better! Plus, companies and bakeries tend to release specialized desserts for the holidays; everything from red and green M&MS to gingerbread cookies line stores’ shelves. I always look forward to enjoying limited-edition flavors, which is evident in my recent trip to Lindt in Boston! And if you are feeling crafty yourself, pull out an apron and a little bit of flour and whip up your very own cookies! Baking is a lot of work, but it definitely has a fun element to it. It’s a great way to bring the Christmas spirit into your very own creations, as well as a perfect outlet to spend time with family while indoors. I am personally excited about my mom’s special holiday cookies. Besides, calories don’t count till after January 1st, right?
- Spend time with family or close friends.
Okay, so maybe you’re just a bit up to your ears with family time. I get it, trust me! For many, the holiday season may seem dreadful for this very reason. However, I believe Thanksgiving is the perfect time of the year to sit down and recognize all the people who we hold near and dear to our hearts. For me, this has been my family, who has been my rock throughout 2020. Take time to cherish and appreciate those around you and enjoy the company they offer this holiday season. Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and every other holiday are the perfect times to come together to celebrate and find joy in this wonderful time of year. Just be sure to wear masks and stay in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines!