During a time where everything changed, maybe Christmas traditions should change too.
Christmas traditions are dime a dozen and range from things that people look forward to every year while others are ones people dread. For me, I’m kind of in the latter camp as it’s tradition for my family to watch the live-action of How The Grinch Stole Christmas (The one featuring Jim Carry). Why I say kind of is that the movie is tolerable to watch once per year, though I’d rather watch something else.
You know, as a way to break tradition.
And this tradition breaking I’m all for. After all, change is an important aspect of life and some traditions don’t make much sense any longer. On top of the fact that there is a pandemic going around, not many people have the chance to enjoy Christmas in December as they would normally. So in spirit of that, I wanted to give you some ideas for how you can break traditions. And everything is on the chopping block for these proposals.
Changing The Christmas Traditions Feast
One idea that came to mind was something that my dad proposed a few weeks ago. What if instead of having your traditional Christmas diner, we instead had something completely different. Something that would make people think “Why would you have this Christmas?”
This was something he gave some thought to last year due to Christmas time being so hectic for him. With him so busy, he wasn’t able to cook up the traditional Christmas diner that many people recognize so he opted to have Americanized Chinese food.
This year — with a pandemic sweeping the world and my Dad having more free time than usual — decided to have pizza. And I’m not talking about ordering pizza. This is homemade pizza.
It sounds crazy but when you think more about it it makes sense.
Holidays are usually times to celebrate but more often than not it allows people to cut loose and “live a little.” In most circumstances, many people amount this to overeating and packing on the pounds. According to research, the average American gains about five pounds over the course of the holidays.
Even though I’m in Canada and there is a wide gap between those holidays here, we’re not so different from our neighbours. We still use those holidays to indulge in a crazy amount of food.
In light of that, I’d suggest to forgo the traditional Christmas diner and strive to make something different. And if you’ve already bought turkey, why not get a little creative with it? Try making a few weeks’ supplies of turkey soup or have turkey sandwiches.
Break Christmas Traditions With Gift Cards Gifts…
If you’re the kind of shopper like me who always gets Christmas gifts late, then this year you’re probably too late with ordering something online. With no other recourse, you’re left with going to local stores and buying things there.
But wait.. there is a pandemic going on and you might not be able to get to stores that often. Or maybe you’re concerned about picking up a physical object.
Well, to break Christmas traditions, you might be better off settling for gift cards this time around. As boring and plain as it is, I think that this year is an appropriate time to not complain about not getting a physical gift but rather a plastic card.
On top of that, these cards are very simple to get and don’t require you to be out for very long. You’ll still want to be wearing a facial mask and all, but it’s a small cost of being in a possibly crowded store for hours looking for something.
… Or Give Experiences
This is an idea I came up with last year. Because my parents are getting older, there is less precedence for me to be getting them physical items. It’s smarter for me to go for something nice and consumable.
Things like bath balls or special shampoo or a nifty gadget I found.
I try to surprise my parents with the gifts I give them and in light of that, I came up with an idea last year: Give experiences.
I did give them a few physical items of course but one in particular was a card. In that card, I wrote about my appreciation for them and that I’d treat them both to dinner, lunch or breakfast at any time they like. They’re also the ones to pick the spot as well.
Now, I wasn’t anticipating a global pandemic to throw a wrench into that (I gave them until December 25th 2020 to use the five I offered), but you get the idea. It was an opportunity for the three of us to have diner together and my parents don’t have to worry about the bill.
Offering experiences is a brilliant idea for several reasons:
- First, there is a pandemic going on. As such people’s finances aren’t that great. Experiences can work as IOUs for the future, thus spreading out the cost. This saves you hundreds of dollars right now.
- Second, because of the pandemic, people may be hesitant about giving gifts. Experiences don’t often have to be physical.
- Third, Christmas really drives home the idea that people need to have lots of stuff but the reality is we don’t. You’re breaking Christmas traditions this way and saving more money overall depending on what kind of experiences you’re giving.
- Finally, experiences hold more weight than physical gifts. People will always remember how you make them feel while items don’t always carry that weight. I still remember several years in a row not getting a nutcracker for Christmas as a kid. But I can’t quite remember the emotions I felt after finally getting it.
Experiences are a fresh new way of getting people excited about getting something. Even though Christmas is for the kids, this is an opportunity to surprise those who have gone through the motions.
Celebrating Christmas Traditions In July
Christmas in July is something else I’ve heard tossed around for this year specifically and it’s not too bad of an idea. With so many places requiring people to be in lockdown, it wouldn’t really hurt to celebrate Christmas much later.
It’s hard to say what the world is going to be like in July 2021. However, with vaccines rolling out in the coming months, I’d say we’re looking better.
Again, Christmas in December is mostly for the kids above all else. If there aren’t many children involved in your family, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to celebrate Christmas at a later time.
Do A Family Call
I don’t know about your extended family but for me, every Christmas my parents get a call from my relatives in Ontario. It’s one of those Christmas traditions I enjoy since I don’t get to talk much to my family on that side.
However it also conveniently works during these times where there’s a global pandemic.
With so many conference platforms around, it’s not out of the question to do a family call using those platforms. Whether family is near or far away, this gives a chance to keep social distance measures and still enjoy Christmas as a family.
In terms of ideas for this it could simply be a phone call or maybe you can enjoy dinner together in your own way.
Aim For Acts Of Kindness
One thing that 2020 has taught us is that there could definitely be more kindness out there in the world. Whether you’re doing this as part of a business or as an individual, an act of kindness can mean a lot.
This year has put a lot of people in difficult situations and extending a hand out can provide a huge difference for people. On top of that, those who are struggling are people within your own immediate circle.
One example I can give is the secretary at my Mom’s work is a grandmother to several kids. Due to this pandemic though, the kids’s single-father (this secretary’s son) can’t provide adequate gifts to his kids. So instead of the employees doing what they would traditionally do (A yankee swap), they decided to give gifts to those children.
It’s a small gesture, however it’s way more meaningful. Especially since the yankee swap they did in years past always rubbed people the wrong way.
And if you’re feeling extra charitable, look into if there is something you can do for essential workers. Not just nurses and doctors, but grocery and convenience store clerks amongst many others.
Break Christmas Traditions
Despite the circumstances of all this, there is some good that can come out of this. With a pandemic forcing us to change our very way of life, I see this as an opportunity to make drastic changes in our own individual lives.
Not just what we do on a daily basis, but also the traditions and habits that we have around these particular times of the year.
Change for me around the holidays has been gradual year after year as I’ve worked on changing myself over the years. My perception of Christmas has shifted and will no doubt continue to change as more years go by.
My hope is that with these ideas you can break these traditions in a year where so many other things have changed. And hopefully that these changes in particular are better changes that you may want to use for years to come.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon