We’ve lost so much during this pandemic—from experiences and moments that have been stolen by COVID-19—to sadly, actual lives. And in this holiday season, many of us are feeling this grief anew, as lifelong traditions are canceled or postponed.
New parents are hit especially hard by this viral thief, with many of their baby’s milestones threatened to be lost forever. From Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa, the holidays may look different for many families this year.
And while we give you full permission to grieve your losses and feel however you need to feel this year, we also want you to remember that if you’re missing out on family traditions, here’s a new way to look at it: you are your baby’s first family and you can create new traditions and memories together.
“One of the most important things to remember is that you are your baby’s first family and you can create new traditions and memories together.”
In fact, this pandemic-blighted holiday is the perfect time to establish this without disappointing anyone. And the best part? You get to call the shots. You don’t have to be a party planning superstar with the cooking chops of Ina Garten to create your little family’s holidays. The most important thing is that you’re together with those you love. And if you need a little holiday inspiration, here’s a guide to getting started creating your own traditions this year as a family.
Start with the Lights
Lights are everything when it comes to ambiance. Halloween isn’t Halloween without glowing Jack-o’-Lanterns, Hanukkah is the festival of lights, Christmas is littered with twinkle lights, a central part of Kwanzaa is the kinara, and New Year’s is all about the glitter.
Using lights to make your at-home holiday special is as simple as incorporating the lights of the holiday into your celebration and adding candles to your dinner table. Turn off some of your overhead lights, and voila, you’ve got yourself some holiday magic.
Set the Mood with Music
Music is just as simple as lighting. Some holidays come with their own music, while others, (we’re looking at you Thanksgiving), don’t have any traditional tunes. But either way, if you’re trying to create an atmosphere your babies will want to emulate in their own homes someday, playing soft music in the background is an easy way to accomplish this.
Music also creates a great opportunity for new traditions specific to your family. Singing together is a scientifically proven way to bond with other people, so pick a few songs to sing aloud, and revisit these songs every year. And let’s be honest: this is a much easier tradition to begin when your baby is little and nonjudgmental about your singing voice.
Tell a Story to Remember
Stories are also essential to creating traditions. As you use these pandemic-tinged-holidays to establish your new family, you may be sad that Grandma Rose isn’t around to share the story of the mandarin oranges, but there is also so much joy in being the storyteller yourself. You are passing down the family legacy as an active link in the family chain. Your child will grow up understanding their heritage through your eyes and in your voice.
Maybe you don’t feel like storytelling is your strong suit and that’s okay too! It is never too early to begin reading your baby stories. There are stories written for every major holiday you can pick up on Amazon and if you are looking for something more personal, this can be a beautiful way to incorporate the loved ones you’re missing so much. They can write their own holiday stories for you to read aloud to your babies, this year and every year going forward.
Bring on the Food
Of course, holiday traditions always include food. What is Hanukkah without latkes or Thanksgiving without gravy? But don’t worry, I’m keeping my promise that a holiday at home will not require the cooking chops of Ina Garten. Because the best part of making your own tradition is that it is your tradition. If the only dish your confident whipping up is a spaghetti dinner, make it your signature Christmas dish. And if you don’t want to cook at all?
Well, I grew up with takeout Chinese as a New Year’s Eve staple and my friend eats breakfast at Waffle House every year on Christmas with just her husband and her son. The reason food plays such a definitive cultural role is the very reason it is so highly emphasized during the holidays. This means that your holidays can reflect who you are and that’s a beautiful thing.
“Your holidays can reflect who you are and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Remember Who Matters Most
And last but certainly not least, for people in your life that you are missing, that’s the real heartbreaker this year, isn’t it? A holiday season full of love, family, friends, and community, is being pared down to just you and the people you live with. And while one day your baby will hopefully grow to have holiday memories that will include remember playing with cousins, robbing Grandma’s cookie jar, or passing out in front of the basement TV while the adults laugh upstairs, what they will remember the most every year is you.
You are your child’s family in the strongest sense of the word, and this will be the holiday season where you can show them what that means.
“You are your child’s family in the strongest sense of the word, and this will be the holiday season where you can show them what that means.”
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