Four Ways to create Family-cheer during another pandemic Christmas
The holiday season, although traditionally a time of cheer and joy for many, can be notoriously difficult for others. This is caused by family pressures, expectations, and intricate family dynamics. This year presents different challenges, especially in Hong Kong. With travel difficulties and quarantine restrictions imposed, many families find themselves having to adapt to circumstances (as has been the theme for the past 18 months) and in the city again. This can present challenges and an emotional rollercoaster as many are unable to reconnect and recharge with extended family and friends over the holiday period. Many of us have memories and traditions associated with the holiday season, and not being with loved ones can make daily life feel harder than usual.
However, as always there is joy to be found and silver linings hiding in the situation if we find ways to create it for ourselves. If we take this time and rare occurrence of global circumstances to think about what new traditions we want to start. How to incorporate traditions from our family of origin into our Hong Kong family it’s a step in the right direction in creating cheer.
Hong Kong, our Home Away From Home
For some, people made this city home when their children were born here and have been watching them grow up as Third Culture Kids. For others, their Hong Kong home evolved with friends becoming family and or fluffy four-legged buddies defining the family unit. Regardless of the individual family setup, this special city has had the ability to become home for thousands of international people from places far beyond the borders. For this Christmas, not being able to cross these borders with increasingly high walls, feels heavy. Our sense of home in this city is in flux as the pandemic horizon changes week by week. Not to make light of the situation but rather to find joy in what we do have here, here are three ways to create family cheer for yet another pandemic Christmas.
Create your own family advent calendar
- Instead of just a chocolate advent calendar, this Christmas create an activity Christmas calendar with each family member having an equal number of activities contributed to the calendar. This could be as simple as singing Christmas Carols together. Making Christmas cookies, watching a Christmas movie, or a scheduled video call with Grandpa and Grandma. Sharing this as a family activity one Sunday afternoon will get everyone excited about the coming weeks as anticipation creates high levels of joy and boost well-being.
- Sharing this calendar online with extended family will allow other family members to get involved. We can stay more in touch, or create shared events/movie nights/games across time zones.
Christmas Gratitude journal for ‘Another Pandemic Christmas’
- Create a family gratitude journal for ‘Another Pandemic Christmas’ with each family member writing in once a day, whether you live together or apart. For families that are apart having a shared google document, with each family member using a different colour you can track each other’s gratitude in the lead up to the holiday season. This will also allow images to be shared that highlight the grateful moment of the day. Gratitude has great psychological benefits and is also shown to increase during times of loss and although we can’t be with all the people we wish we were with this Christmas, this time of distance between us allows us to build a greater appreciation for each other and gratitude for the times shared in the past.
- As a family, pick one day a week in the run-up to Christmas for fireplace Christmas carols and daily or yearly reflection. There are plenty of youtube clips of fires to create that sense of coziness. Some are silent while others have the King of Christmas, Micheal Buble, playing in the background. Although we have had to spend a lot of this year living with each other through periods of lockdown, taking this time to truly connect with one another to do an annual reflection can allow for a deeper connection in the run-up to Christmas. A quick check-in activity for adults and children, What’s been your rose, bud, and thorn of 2021? Your Rose is something that has blossomed, your bud is something in progress, and your thorn is a stuck point or a challenge you’ve faced.
This article was written by Dr. Shona Lowes, who has over 25 years of experience working with children, families, teenagers, and adults. Dr. Lowes offers help for Hong Kong families with children in the UK for boarding school or university, providing individual therapy for teenagers and adults, as well as consultations with parents of younger children. If you want to learn more about our services, you can get in touch here.