The holidays are upon us again. As we all know and experienced, 2020 was unlike any year and traditions we had for decades were likely altered. Getting back to holiday traditions this 2021 holiday season may not be attainable as we all 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 Erick O’Campo 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.
Coming out of 2020, it is likely that the pandemic has changed how we celebrate holidays. This adds to the feeling that nothing will ever be the same again. With more flexibility in how we can come together, re-establishing routines, traditions, and connections are extra important this year.
Taking time to mindfully plan what traditions are important to carve out time for in the next month 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 2021? 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 northwestcoloradohealth.org/youthresiliency or call Whitney Bakarich, LPC at 970-846-0787.