There is no doubt that we are facing yet another new experience that will have its unique set of excitements and challenges with our Christmas season this year!
While it can be daunting for us, it can also be anxiety provoking and bring sadness for our younger ones not knowing what to expect. Giving clear directions and expectations for them is the best way to minimize these feelings of anxiety during this unprecedented Christmas season. Of course, there are some areas that are still unknown and will be for some time, but even sharing small details will reassure our children that the holidays are still happening and that they will be safe within them.
1) Reassure your child that there is still plenty of room for celebration, even though the world is a little different right now.
2) Give them specific details about things that you will still be doing. Focus on what you are doing instead of what you aren’t doing, but be honest when asked. With the ever-changing times, it is best to use language that leans toward the more likely such as “it is likely that we will not be going to grandma’s house with the whole family this year, but we will see her on our own and we will Facetime with your aunts and uncles.”
Let them know things that seem obvious to you, but that will instill excitement rather than disappointment. Consider beginning your sentences with the lowest part and end with the reminder that you are still celebrating in many other ways. “We will not be having the neighborhood gathering that we normally do, but we are still going to pray, have presents, stockings and cinnamon rolls for Jesus’s birthday.”
3) Consider doing some special things this year. Even small things will get them excited such as putting a bottle of hand sanitizer in your neighbors mailboxes or wrapping a roll of tissue for each family member as a good laugh for Christmas morning!
4) Get on their level, but be the positive source of hope for them. Allowing them to experience the sense of grief or disappointment for a short period of time is healthy and it allows them to gain fortitude and resilience. Supply the reminder that they can do hard things. A good piece of scripture to remind them that they can do so is:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13
5) Have a conversation involving a healthy understanding of the expectations for next year. “We won’t solve everything over night and it won’t happen at the stroke of midnight, but it looks like 2021 will bring lots of answers and new ways for people to protect themselves against this virus that are more reliable than what we are doing right now. More and more people will be healthier as the months go by and for that, we are looking forward to 2021!” Be careful not to talk too negatively about 2020. It has been much more difficult for some than others depending on their health, geographical location, support system and other variables, but it was still a year that we were blessed with. Reminding our children that each day we are given is a blessing will help remind us as well. For our children, some turned double-digits, moved to a new house, or gained a sibling. We want to remember the positive things as well as the negative ones to offer a healthy and accurate recall of the year.
For all of us parents who have had a long, challenging year ourselves, take solace in that our Lord has us under His watch and will supply us with the energy that we need. While we are not through this yet, we have learned so much and are succeeding every day.
And let us not grow weary of doing good. - Galatians 6:9