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Considering the current state of the world we’re living in, it seems unlikely that this upcoming Christmas will be anything close to normal. The holidays are typically a time of tradition and routine that can ground us from all the chaos that occurs throughout the other 11 months of the year. For me, this routine has always included spending the day with my mom’s side of the family and eating good food, exchanging gifts, and playing card games. 

The big issue this year? My family is American and lives across the border. Even during a normal year I don’t get to see my extended family as much as I’d like, but because of Covid I haven’t seen my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles in almost a year now, and the one time of the year that has always guaranteed a visit has been cancelled. After such a stressful year, it is incredibly frustrating, disappointing, and heartbreaking to be physically unable to spend the holidays with my loved ones, but I know I’m not the only one experiencing this. So I thought I would share some ways I am planning to adapt to these new circumstances and cope with all the emotions that arise from it, and hopefully it may help others in a similar situation. 

Virtual celebration: This probably won’t surprise anyone considering this has been the go-to social substitute since the pandemic began. While I have mainly utilized the video chat platforms for professional/educational settings, it also has the potential to be an adequate way of meeting up with your distant family. Yes, technical difficulties such as lagging connection, spotty wifi, and pixelated screens loom ahead, but it’s a method of interacting that is better than nothing. While I still won’t be able to hug my loved ones, this gives me the opportunity to hear their voices, listen to their laughter, and catch up on what's new in their lives. 

Mailing cards: At the time I’m writing this, the US postal service has not collapsed, so sending some good old fashioned snail mail is a way to maintain a genuine connection with my family across the river. Normally we don’t send anything through the mail since we just exchange it in person, but taking the time to sit down and write out a nice letter is also a good way for me to express how I’m feeling and communicate that with those I love. Besides, who doesn’t love a good Christmas card?

Remember why we’re doing this: It can be easy to wallow in all the negative emotions I mentioned at the beginning like frustration, disappointment, heartbreak, so I think it is important to acknowledge these feelings. It’s okay to feel these things and understand that most of the world is going through a similar experience. Something that has helped me cope with these emotions throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, is keeping in mind why we are doing this. While it sucks that I’m not able to visit my family this year, I’m ultimately doing it to keep them safe and healthy in the long run and to do my part in being a socially responsible citizen during this pandemic. The stricter we are in practicing social distancing right now, the sooner the world will hopefully again resemble its normal self so I can finally visit my family in a safe environment.

Abby is a fourth year English Language and Literature student with a minor in Psychology. She enjoys horror movies, over-priced Starbucks drinks, and a good wholesome meme. After graduation, Abby's goal is to find a career in publishing.
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