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Most years, many strive to go home for the holidays. This year, many will spend their holidays in their own home. The home may be a place they live alone, a place with a significant other, a place with children, or a home filled with multi-generations.  Whatever home is for you, and however you are spending your time this year, things may be different.

Holidays are often centered around traditions and rituals. Traditions bring us comfort, especially during difficult times.  If there is a way to incorporate some family traditions with others from a distance or incorporate a special recipe that you will have on your own to feel a connection to your family, do something to bring comfort to your holiday season.  When incorporating children, it is always good to share the history behind the family traditions and rituals to understand where the practice comes from and why you hold it near and dear.  Sometimes though, trying to maintain traditions causes more stress than brings comfort.

Holidays are a time to break from the regular routine and offer a time of rest. This can also be a great time to spend quality time together with those in your family.  What do you deem a successful holiday?  If you ask five people, you might get five different answers. Within families, there could pose a conflict of how time is spent: together, alone, with family, doing chores/expectations, a home project?  Holidays can be a great time to come together but can also cause stress and conflict. 

When it comes to family holidays, there is often an emphasis on strengthening family bonds by engaging in leisure activities and having time to socialize. You may need to get creative, play a virtual game, schedule a multi-person call, or safely gather outside to visit a loved one.  Or you may need a grand plan to keep everyone engaged that has been home for some time, depending on your situation. 

There are benefits to doing things together for families. Doing something means being with someone else and feeling like you and the other person were together and not just occupying the same space. Time spent in shared activities has been linked to increased marital satisfaction. Time together also has benefits for a child/parent relationship. In both of these relationships, spending time together often builds intimacy, trust, openness, and commitment.

It has been found that the amount of time a mother spends with their children and the quality of their interactions has a link to a child’s emotional intelligence, due to both positive parenting and a time to promote modeling, reinforcement, attention, and social cooperation. Along this vein, research has shown that spending time with parents is protective against the onset of depressive symptoms and can also reduce symptoms in adolescents who are already depressed.

If trying to plan your family time together, get everyone involved!  Grab a sheet of paper and ask those in the home to brainstorm a bucket list of things to do over the holiday break.  These can be things that people all do together or certain people pair up and do.  It is nice to have a collective idea of what everyone thinks would be fun.  Here are some categories to help get you started:

  • Games to play
  • Books to read
  • Things to try, learn, or do
  • Recipes to make/meals to have
  • Shows to watch

You should note, if you live by yourself, with a roommate or a significant other, this is still a great list to get some ideas down. You don’t have to have children to do this activity. It is excellent for any age.

For many, this year is going to be significantly different. Enjoy the season, savor the moments, and try to focus on the good as we move into 2021.