This holiday season, many family members will find themselves on opposite ends of the country as opposed to opposite ends of the dinner table. Dr. Fauci has issued his words of wisdom concerning Thanksgiving travel and gathering- they post a high COVID risk. Even his own children will not be joining dear old dad to break bread over turkey this year. But how can we still have a meaningful holiday from a distance? Here are a few ways you can still connect with those you love without putting them in jeopardy.
Many families have a favorite recipe that is made each year during the holiday time. During Christmas, my mom makes the same frosted sugar cookies each year (and my dad manages to eat them all before Christmas Eve). For Christmas Day, my mom pops her Egg Dish in the oven before we open gifts so we can enjoy it after all the unwrapping is complete. At Thanksgiving, my mom or one of her siblings makes their Aunt Sinny’s Jello Salad. It is a way to remember those who have come before us and honor them with the memory of dinners past, as well as a way to connect future generations.
If you don’t have a family recipe, now is the time to create one! Find a side dish, appetizer, or dessert that embodies the holidays for your family. Make it for dinner and send each family member the recipe card in advance so they can have it at their table as well. This can help everyone have a meaningful holiday from a distance by sharing the same dish! For example, if you just ADORE Brussels Sprouts as an adult but have horrible memories of them as a kid (remember when parents thought it was cool to just steam them?), find the best darn recipe out there, perfect it in the weeks leading up to the main event, and have it at your table each Thanksgiving from now on. PSA- try sprouts in the air fryer- totally magical.
I have always wanted to make Eggnog, so this year I am going to make that my traditional Christmas Eve indulgence. I even bought Moose Mugs to serve the spiked sip and am going to watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with my family over Zoom!
How to Connect from a Distance
I am sure you have heard of the study conducted by Arthur Aron regarding increasing intimacy in strangers by having them ask each other a series of 36 personal questions. Why not apply the same strategy to your family members? The purpose of gathering is to feel a connection, a shared experience. Thanks to technology, you can create this virtually from the safety and comfort of your own home. No, it won’t be the same as receiving a hug for the first time in a year from your beloved matriarch, but there are many ways to feel loved and close to someone.
Time to Dig Deep
I have adapted the questions for families so you can not feel icky discussing potentially uncomfortable questions like #35: Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why? Yeah. I can see THAT being a controversial question, can’t you? My family and I love to play games together- this is a photo of us playing Cards Against Humanity Family Edition this summer. You can see the absolute belly laughs from my mom and 6-year-old daughter:
Here are my 10 questions that you can go around the virtual dining table and get to know your relatives on a deeper level without insulting them and have a meaningful holiday from a distance:
- Given the choice of anyone living or dead, who would you like to share a conversation with and why?
- What would make a perfect day for you?
- What life lesson have you learned that was most difficult?
- If a psychic could predict your future accurately, would you want to know? Why or why not?
- Is there something you have always dreamed of doing but haven’t done it? What has stopped you?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What are your three main values in life?
- What is a sacrifice you have made for someone or that someone has made for you?
- How do you define love?
- What is one story from your childhood that still makes you laugh?
I sincerely hope you are able to find a way to connect with your family on some level this holiday season. Although COVID has taken many things from us, it cannot take our ability to listen and find new ways to show each other we care.
Cheers to finding creative ways to connect with family over the holidays, whether it is virtually or in person!
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