Believe it or not, December is here. This strange year is bringing on very rare feelings and no wonder, people are feeling odd. We are acting differently, and our everyday basis has turned into something pretty different. It is true, back in 2019, by this time of the year I have already attended several meetings and gatherings of all kinds, from corporate parties to family celebrations, the seasonal joy was among us even before the last month of the year had started. Now, things are not as cheerful as they used to be.

Most likely, it is true that we look at the mirror and watch ourselves as totally different persons. If we could only have had the possibility of looking at ourselves in the future last December, we would not be able to recognize who we are today. Everything has shifted abruptly, and the mood is not the best for thinking about our celebrations in this ending year. What is there to celebrate? Some of us may ask, and the answers can be really sad and hard. There have been a lot of losses: some have lost dear ones, others have seen their workplaces vanish, love has gone to the wastebasket, entrepreneurial projects have been postponed. Yes, it is true. But if we have the capability to see those horrors, we can add something meaningful to this season.

Colours, lights, music are part of the mood of the season, but it is just a bit of it. And there is an enormous opportunity to turn spirits up. With all the changes that have happened in 2020, we have time to consider which traditions, among the richness that we have, are the ones that we would like to retrieve so that we can have meaningful moments to remember in the future.

And let us be honest, some holiday gatherings have been putting the fun in dysfunction for decades. That is why telling our people not to gather because Covid-19 has presented some precautions to take into account is bound to ruffle a few turkey feathers. It is strange, and yet true, after months –almost a year– of isolation, our inability to participate in rituals both happy and sad is likely to make many of us long for turkey and toast — with family and friends.

Nevertheless, we have to be well aware that the pandemic is still very much around us, it is still a menace that is far from fading away, and that is why many governments throughout the world have released mandatory guidelines for safely celebrating the most social time of the year. The main rules include parties of few persons, in and outside, socially distanced space and a recommended lasting of two-hour time. Of course, sanitizing, handwashing and mask-wearing is a must, only stopped when persons are not eating or drinking. No buffet setups or punch bowls should be considered, and disposable containers and utensils should be preferred.

Yes, our celebrations should consider best practices for socializing. We should be only with our immediate household and organizing virtual events, and staying home if one feels sick or is in a high-risk group for Covid-19. That seems a lot to consider, even more than what we used to do in the past. But there is some good news.

The holidays are not cancelled. They just need to be reimagined; we have to adjust our inviting expectations. If anything, this pandemic has made us even more conscious of the importance and need that we all have to stay in touch with because part of what it means to be human is to live in a community.

Holidays during the pandemic era should not be the reason to call them off, it is the time to refigure them. In order to lift our hearts, we have to put our minds to work. If we think about it, we can start with a ladder of reflections and advance step by step:

  1. Step number one is intention. If we analyse objectively, some of the habits that we used to perform were not meaningful, they were nagging and sometimes overwhelming. Some of our habits were duties that we had to fulfill just because there was a commitment to do so. Now we can consider evaluating the beloved traditions that we want to retrieve with the persons that surround us, not the ones that we were obliged to be with.
  2. Step number two is compromise. Yes, we have to commit. After having chosen which are the traditions that we want to perform, we must commit so that the plan turns out to be an endearing one, not a failing wish.
  3. Step number three is bringing the past to our present so that we can keep alive what is and has been important for us. One of the most important elements of tradition is honoring those who raised us and, in turn, their families.
  4. Focus on the fun. One of the most important competencies that human beings have is the capacity to laugh out loud, and bring the best of ourselves, letting –at least for some minutes– the sadness, the worries, and the madness. It is about doing something that brings smiles to our faces. So, let us plan to think about something that we all like, take into account the Little ones and the old ones. Ask them, they can bring some wonderful ideas to the table.
  5. Avoid stressful activities. Plan it safe and make everybody feel that they are part of a significant activity in which everyone has a relevant role. One of the advantages that we have is that today we can really put apart what is not relevant, and concentrate on the things that are worthy.

Although the traditional formats may not be the ones that we will be applying in this 2020 holidays, times make us long for creativity, innovation, and specially to understand the real powerful purpose that we can give to this un-understandable time.