Celebrating at a Distance

Just like everything else in 2020, the holidays are going to be harder this year. Harder because we’re not going to be able to celebrate the way we’ve always done it. Because of health concerns, traveling restrictions and local ordinances about group gatherings, our large, crowded table celebrations will have to be put on hold.

This has been the year to realize that the ties that bind us are not physical ties at all. Our families (those we were born into and those we have chosen) are bound together by something much stronger than a handshake…or even a hug.

As much as we’d love to gather in person, if that’s not possible, here are some ways to stay connected this year.

Give it up, Grandma

Now is the time for grandma or Uncle Bob to share that closely guarded family recipe that everyone always look forward to, so that everyone can still enjoy the same good foods no matter where they are.

Bonus: this can be the year that you don’t have to pretend to like that dish your cousin always makes that no one can stand.

Story Time

One of the great things about gathering at the table is the stories that get told around it. Have friends and family members share those stories via video, recording or writings. Pulling those stories together in video that everyone can enjoy could be one of the most precious gifts of the season. Not that tech savvy? Create a scrapbook of family stories that can be reproduced and shared with each household.

Video Calls

Even though we’re all a little zoomed out these days, it’s still a great way to eat together when we’re not together. Zoom is lifting the 40-minute time limit on free accounts, so you can have a leisurely meal together. Start experimenting now to figure out where to set up your computer, phone or portal for maximum exposure.

Re-Schedule

With vaccines headed toward the market, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. However you decide to celebrate this year, reschedule a traditional family holiday for sometime this summer (yes, I know nothing is guaranteed, but we can still make plans).

Christmas in July has been a long-standing tradition. Plan to make it happen in a big way this year. Perhaps be the pioneer who brings us Thanksgiving in (late) June. Plan a big all-encompassing birthday celebration for all the ones you’ve missed during COVID.

It’s not always going to be this way. Planning for the future helps to signal that truth to our brains and allows our hearts to hope again.

However you decide to celebrate this year, stay safe, keep those you love safe and give thanks from the people who make up your circle of celebration.


Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow us on Facebook and get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

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