Small Group Gatherings
Most holiday gatherings occur in a small group when pertaining to family events. But what about other events? With the fear of COVID-19, which is not going away anytime soon, is it safe and should we even celebrate? I definitely say we should!
Depression is at an all-time high. Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States during April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, according to the CDC.* This has been directly associated with mental health challenges related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to mitigation activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders. (See Healthy Mindsets)
A 2015 meta-analysis of the scientific literature by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a research psychologist at Brigham Young University, along with colleagues, determined that chronic social isolation increases the risk of mortality by 29%. Is it worth staying away from those you care about during the holidays? I think we can do it safely, with or without a vaccine.
What Do the Holidays Mean to You?
For some, the holidays carry enough stress without a pandemic to deal with. But for many, it’s a time for social gatherings, eating and getting together with family or friends. After a year goes by, our selective memory causes most of us to forget about what didn’t go as planned last year and we’re ready to celebrate again! Get your FREE Christmas Devotional here!
I want to encourage you to start planning now on how to make this year a fun celebration, both for you and for those you care about. With a little planning and ingenuity, this is entirely possible! Then continue celebrating all year through! (See Let’s Celebrate Life!)
Continue to communicate virtually, but also add a live touch by sending a card or postcard early in the season. Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States with 1.6 billion cards bought each year, according to the Greeting Card Association. Apparently more than half of Americans send holiday cards, says Jim Hilt, president of the Shutterfly Consumer Division.
We want to see photos, especially of those we don’t see often. But don’t just celebrate on Christmas. For whatever holiday(s) you celebrate, a simple postcard with a hand-written message is very encouraging and a warm gesture of hospitality.
Those cards are a welcome reprieve from the amount of promotional and political mail arriving daily in our mailboxes. I like to keep cards on hand to send out throughout the year, but especially during the holidays. With your phone acting as a high-resolution camera and a program like Canva, this can be accomplished fairly easily!
Get Beyond Fear
With or without a vaccine, if you are not at high-risk, I want to encourage you to move forward in your life. Just like I would not suggest jumping off a cliff into a small pool of water below, I am not suggesting unsafe practices. However, eventually we all have to get beyond the fear of getting together with those we care about.
Virtual meetings aren’t going away any time soon. This is always an option in combination with a live get-together. Hopefully most of us have bumped up our tech skills enough to use a program like ZOOM or other live-streaming platform to communicate with others.
The emphasis on cleanliness has been good for all of us. I have never seen our public restrooms so clean, (when they finally became open in California!) even outhouses! So in planning your get-together focus on hand-washing, cleanliness and give all attendees the chance to distance or wear masks if desired. And for those at high risk (we have an uncle who is 89!) be safe and suggest they attend virtually, even sending them a nice card afterwards that everyone can sign that attends personally.
Focus on Simplicity
A simple set-up is vital if you are also the host! I don’t think there will be many elaborate events this year. (I have performed at many of those events!) Setting up a laptop with a camera to check in with those on ZOOM will be especially meaningful for those not able to attend personally. If you have a paid account, you can go as long as you want on ZOOM, but even with the free account, you can keep signing in every 40 minutes as many times as you please! This is something I have definitely done!
Don’t add stress on yourself. Put up your décor and enjoy it. Depending on the occasion, you can provide food that is easy to serve, or serve it yourself. Keep plenty of soap and small hand towels and you will alleviate some of the fear of getting together.
We are in Southern California so the weather usually cooperates allowing us to also spend time outdoors. I know that is not an option for many but be creative. The habits we have learned through COVID such as washing hands and being proactive with our health are based on common-sense and I think are valuable at any time.
I will continue to respect those who don’t feel comfortable getting together this year. I have friends and colleagues who perform at senior events and if they are exposed, they need to quarantine, which means lost work. Plus, they want to spread joy through their music, never any harm.
But for many, starting small and planning ahead with a very simple, straightforward plan will be encouraging and even uplifting. Communicate, get beyond the fear and make it simple! As humans, we are social creatures and life is too short to not move forward with our lives. I wish you all the very best in doing so!