Plan your traditions and ways to connect

The holidays are upon us again.  As we all know and experienced, the past two years may have altered traditions we had for decades.  Getting back to holiday traditions this holiday season may still look and feel different as we continue to navigate the pandemic.   

In a “typical year”, holiday traditions are complicated. They can provide a sense of stability in our ever-changing world, especially for children.  However, they can also compound stress and exacerbate grief.  The grief response is triggered by loss.  Losses can include the death of a loved one, divorce, moving, serious illness, financial hardship, or a loss of tradition to name a few.   

Whitney Bakarich, LPC and her team Wendy Taylor and Kelsey Bricker lead Northwest Colorado Health’s Youth Resiliency program. The program teaches resiliency skills which supports children, adolescents and teens who have experienced stress, trauma, and loss. 

Taking time to mindfully plan what traditions are important to carve out time for in the next few weeks will set you and your family up to have a more enjoyable holiday season.  This can be as simple as sitting down for 15 minutes and blocking out time to ensure you can enjoy the traditions without feeling rushed last minute.

Is it important to bake together?  Cooking together gives kids the opportunity to learn new skills in the kitchen and is a great way to connect screen-free. 

Is it important to decorate your house?  Maybe you take an evening and make decorations for the house.  This can be as simple as saving a few paper towel/toilet paper tubes, cutting them into rings and gluing together to make snowflakes.  These can then be spray-painted to add some flair.

Is it important to take time and remember 2022?  Paint a shoebox and adorn it with tissue paper, buttons, and other embellishments to create a memory box. Fill it with photos and trinkets that remind the child of wonderful things that happened during the year, to remind of the person who died, or the life before the loss.  It can be powerful to acknowledge that happy experiences can co-exist with hardship. 

Is it important to simply take time to connect?  Listen to each other’s favorite songs together.  Make a family playlist where everyone contributes a song.  Music is a powerful and accessible way to connect, even if physical distance keeps people apart.  Music can ignite the entire limbic system (the emotional center) of the brain and sound tethers experiences to memory.

Northwest Colorado Health’s Youth Resiliency program provides outreach services, support groups and education to youth coping with these types of adversities. For more information, visit or call Whitney Bakarich, LPC at 970-846-0787. 

Northwest Colorado Health also offers Community Grief Support groups for adults. The bereavement groups take place:

  • 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month, 11am-12pm at the Rollingstone Respite House for tea and chat (or call in) 
  • 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month, 5-6 pm at the Rollingstone Respite House for creative arts grief activity

Northwest Colorado Health’s Hospice program will also host the annual Blue Christmas Service on December 20 from 6-7pm at Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church in partnership with local faith-based communities. The service is to support individuals who are grieving or feeling down this holiday season, and will be available in-person or via livestream. Find more info at For questions about Blue Christmas or Community Grief Support, please contact Dr. Jo Anne Grace at 970-846-8319.

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