The holidays are likely to look different this year. Many of us will not be gathering for our usual celebrations this season. Maybe the idea of not traveling or trying to get to several houses feels like a relief. Maybe there are people you don’t mind not seeing. But like most of you, I’m feeling some loss of long standing traditions, mostly seeing the people that I love and expect to be with during the holiday season. 

And yet, we can still stay connected. And you can find meaningful activities you may be doing because of the pandemic, but they don’t have to be second rate. 

Know What’s Meaningful for Your Holiday Season

What is it that you really love about the holidays? 

Everybody has a different answer to this question. Even within your family, people will have different answers. Some may love going from gathering to gathering, while that is the part somebody else dreads. Dig into this question a little and ask your family members to do the same. Maybe your kids reflexively say, “Presents” or you say, “Seeing family.” But I bet there’s more.

Brainstorm a list of things you usually do during the holidays. Think about how you spend the holidays themselves and what you do before or after, because often we have rituals or traditions that we value in the lead up or wind down to these celebrations. 

After you’ve generated the list, take stock of it. Have everybody pick their top three things from the list. Are there activities or foods or traditions that most of you love? Have everyone rank any that they hate or are willing to let go of. This is a good year to revamp your holiday traditions. You can look at it as an anomaly, something just for this year, or as a shift you will carry forward, maybe even with some relief. 

Find Ways to Move Meaningful Forward

While it may feel good to let go of some parts of the usual holiday season, there are other things that you’ll likely miss. First, take a moment to acknowledge the loss. It’s okay to say, “I’m sad I won’t see my sister this year” or “I’ll really miss playing games with all my cousins.” Recognize, pause to feel the sadness, and then release those feelings — and think about what you can do. 

Most of the things we all will miss involve other people. If you start from the premise that you can’t get together as you usually do, what can you do? 

Get outside. If the weather cooperates, how about getting together for outdoor dessert (keep people spread out) or a family walk. If your family isn’t close by, maybe you can connect with friends who are also home and missing their extended family. Connecting with others, even if it is a different connection, is meaningful. 

Use technology. Set up a time for a family Zoom or a gathering on Google Hangouts, but to make it meaningful, have a purpose. Perhaps you gather together for a blessing and expression of gratitude before everyone settles into a meal at their own home, or your kids open presents from your parents on a video call so they can see the joy. Perhaps you find a group game that you can play online to take the place of the family football game or the silly games you play when everyone is stuffed from eating. 

Even texting (ideally it doesn’t take you away from the people you are actually with). I have a friend who spent the morning of 4th of July texting with her sisters about the things that would be happening and that would be annoying them if they were actually together. It made all of them laugh and feel connected even though they were in three different places.

Write a letter. It may sound a bit old-fashioned given all the technology that helps us connect, but letters have a big impact. I love writing gratitude letters or letters to share things I want loved ones to know. I’ve seen both as a writer and reader how letters make people feel. And the beauty is people can read your words of love, gratitude, caring, respect and hope again and again. They can read it on a holiday when they’re missing you … and in the long days of winter when any holiday sparkle has worn off. 

Anybody can write a meaningful letter, but if you feel a bit daunted by the prospect, you’re not alone. I’d love to show you my process for writing a deeply meaningful letter. You can use it again and again to share the things you want people to know. 

In addition to the how of writing a letter to connect, there’s the when do I find the time? I have an idea for both. 

Join me for Letters to Connect, a letter writing retreat on Sunday, December 6 at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET. We’ll spend the first two hours learning the process, then I’ll stay on Zoom with you to answer questions as you actually draft your letter. I want this to be a gift you give to you – time to think and feel how the people in your life matter and what you want them to know, time to express your love and gratitude. So I’m offering this special event at a special price. Get your seat now for only $47.

Sign up here to write your special letter to connect with people you love:

Want to feel more engaged and energized? Get your copy of 3 Steps to a Meaningful Life You Love!