A family celebrating Christmas on the computer with video chat


It’s Been A Year, But Nothing Can Stop Me From Celebrating A Happy Pandemic Christmas

Dec 14, 2020

Tonight, my family is attending a virtual Christmas party with a group of friends who all parent kids with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder). This year, I feel like almost all of the sentences could start with — "a year ago, if you had told me I’d be doing this virtually, I’d never have believed you."

But in a few hours, I will log into Zoom, set up our craft table, pour myself a glass of wine and sing Christmas carols with people I haven’t seen in person for most of this year.

The world might not resemble anything that we anticipated it would in January 2020, but I still have my family, health and a home — and it looks like we’ll have a white Christmas.

So, bring it on. Happy Pandemic Christmas.

Paula has introduced a new rule during the pandemic: 10 hugs a day, every day. Read why her family made that decision here.

Oh, I know many of us are worried about the holidays and what they'll look like. Depending on your province, or your region, you might be in lockdown, or maybe you are yellow, orange or red. But still, it is December and Christmas is right around the corner.

You know the saying that you can’t control much in life, but you can control your reaction — I have been working on controlling my reaction to the holidays by planning and organizing for months now.

"Months ago, ... a friend told me she was going to the mall to do Christmas shopping and I thought she was joking. It was August."

This year’s holiday season is full of anxiety and concern, just as the rest of the year has been, so I am controlling what I can (wearing a mask in public always, limiting outings, washing our hands and cleaning more than usual). I am embracing the change, the wait-and-see and the hope-is-on-the-horizon modes of existing.

Right now, I am leaning into Christmas in my home because it gives us a reason to smile. Tonight, it’s a Zoom Christmas party with carols and crafts. I’m not even remotely embarrassed to tell you that I’ve seen almost all of the new Hallmark movies. They give me my serotonin fix nightly especially when I see diversity there now with adoptive families, Black families and LGBTQ+ couples.

The last few weeks, it has also been about me organizing and planning what I can now, so we can still have a happy holiday season no matter what the numbers are tomorrow.

Months ago, when I did a socially distant beach visit in Port Stanley, a friend told me she was going to the mall to do Christmas shopping and I thought she was joking. It was August. Then I realized she had a point, and she was completely serious. She worked in a doctor’s office and was clear — a second wave will hit, she said, and you don’t really want to be shopping physically in malls and tiny stores then.

This year, organization is more important than ever, and budgeting is a thing so many need to pay attention to with so many households still struggling (us included). So, I also started my holiday shopping, in September (I couldn’t bring myself to do it in August), spending in tiny increments so that the holidays don’t hit us as dramatically financially.

Truffles rolled in candy cane are a simple yet elegant Christmas treat. Find out how to make them and other flavours here.

If I'm out grocery shopping without my family, I also add a Christmas present to the cart and tuck it away. We're wrapping presents as we go, so it doesn’t all hit at once (my teenager loves to help with that, so parenting win). As for baking, my teens never really stopped since the pandemic started. It's been a mental health outlet for months now. So, we've been freezing some extra baked goods so that we are prepared for several scenarios, and we're adding a few new recipes to the repertoire because it is our therapy some days.

"The house is decorated, but I have to confess that all of the Hallmark channel movies ... have made me think I might have underdone it on the garland."

So, what’s left here? I have a few deadlines to make still. My daughter needs to get through final exams. I will buy a small fresh turkey because the kids absolutely love that tradition, and we will maintain it — because despite the work, it makes us all happy. The house is decorated, but I have to confess that all of the Hallmark channel movies we are consuming have made me think I might have underdone it on the garland. (That stuff needs to be everywhere.)

Our lights are on every night because they are cheery, and we have two trees up this year.

For three years in a row, we took a cruise after Christmas and that was our gift to each other. This year, there’s no Caribbean, but we have snow, drive-thru light shows and each other. We won’t have a chance to be away, so we might as well work on making home a jolly, welcome space full of Christmas cheer.

We are a family of four. My children’s grandparents have all passed and our bubble is very small. Most holidays we get together with my brother and his family. But they live in Toronto, which raises even more anxiety.

Will Toronto’s lockdown be over by Christmas? Will the numbers keep climbing? Is there a chance that we could still have my brother and his family here in London for Christmas? Or are we dining by Zoom and postponing gatherings until early Spring?

I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m doing what I can to control what I can.

It might not be ideal, but it is 2020 ideal, and it is safe.

Article Author Paula Schuck
Paula Schuck

Read more from Paula here.

My name is Paula Schuck and I have been writing professionally for over 20 years. I am a mother of two daughters, and I am a fierce advocate for several health issues. I am a yoga nut, skier and content coordinator for two London, Ontario, trade magazines. I have been published online and in traditional magazines and newspapers including: Today’s Parent, The Globe and Mail, Kitchener Record, London Free Press, trivago.ca, Ontario Parks blog and Food, Wine and Travel magazine.

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