By Kelley Crusius, FNP-C, and Mari Montesano, LCSW, CMH-OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative
This is our first (and hopefully last) holiday season during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also a critically important time for each of us to continue making the sacrifices necessary to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy through the winter.
With some creativity and planning, you can make the holidays special this year. And perhaps you’ll even start a new holiday tradition with your family.
Recipe Exchange: Start a chain mail recipe swap with neighbors, family or friends. Send three people one of your favorite recipes. Ask them to send you one back, and to pass it on to three more people.,/p>
Play Secret Santa: Surprise someone you care about with a delicious dinner on their doorstep. You could cook yourself, or order takeout from one of our great local restaurants. Your gift will bring you and the person you surprise a warm, holiday feeling.
Cookie Muncher’s Delight: Call up some friends or family and set a cookie date. Make enough cookies to share and send or deliver them to each other on your chosen day.
When the big day rolls around, be sure that you’re celebrating safely. Virtual gatherings are the safest way to be with your loved ones.
Perhaps you could start the morning with a cooking lesson from the elders in your family. You don’t have to be Julia Childs to put on your own cooking show. This is a great way to pass down secret family recipes and to share the holidays together. You can finish the day with a toast and a special holiday drink or dessert.
If you decide to have an in-person gathering, consider holding your celebration outside around a fire pit. Or have a tailgate party with each household bringing their own food.
Remember, gathering with another household is a higher risk activity. To make it as safe as possible, limit other in-person activity before and after your gathering. When gathering, don’t share silverware or dishes; be vigilant about washing your hands before eating and after using the restroom; maintain social distance between households when eating and drinking; and wear masks when you’re not eating or drinking.
You can have your Christmas cake and eat it too. Plan ahead and have those conversations early so that everyone you love can enjoy the holidays. This is a hard time, but it will pass. And when the next holiday season rolls around, we want everyone to be able to gather and celebrate. But to do that, we need to celebrate a bit differently this year.
As long as she can remember, Mari’s large family has gathered for dinner at her grandfather’s house on Christmas Eve. They make Swedish meatballs and play games. This year, all 20 members of the family will gather virtually to toast the holiday and a new year with a special drink and Swedish meatballs!
Kelley’s holiday celebrations will just include her immediate family. They plan to put away the phones and computer screens to spend some quality time together.
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