At the End of This Messed-Up 2020, How Can We Possibly Celebrate The Holidays?

At the End of This Messed-Up 2020, How Can We Possibly Celebrate The Holidays?

‘Twas the holidays in 2020, and all through the house – okay, let’s be real, all through the world – nobody had a clue how we’re supposed to make merry in the middle of all of this mayhem.

What. A. Year.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about Advent and Christmas this year. On one hand, it feels good to have something to look forward to. On the other hand, with so many of our traditions changing or disappearing while we practice social distance, I’m not always sure what I’m looking forward to. Trying to create the magic and closeness of this season in the context of a year like this feels really overwhelming.

How do we celebrate when we’re lonely, worried, and exhausted? How do we make sure our littlest family members don’t miss out on any of the wonder? How do we take good care of our weary selves in the process?

How do we survive…maybe even enjoy…our 2020 Holidays?

I’ll be honest – I’m not always sure, but I think there are a few places we can start. And maybe we can carry each other through this unusual Advent season with laughter, grace, and even a little celebration.

Let’s lean into ancient rhythms…and make them new again.

The season of Advent has always been about waiting, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a year we can relate more strongly to the patience, longing, and lament in the wait for the Christ child. Let’s dive into the practice of Advent traditions and find grounding and spiritual connection there…even though we may be practicing them in new ways. Who knows? Maybe doing things a little differently can make it feel meaningful for us in ways it hasn’t before. So…how about a virtual Christmas tree lighting?  Sure! Watching a Christmas pageant online, with everyone snuggled on the couch together? Worship on Christmas Eve with hot chocolate in front of the fire while you join in via YouTube? Why not? Inside these traditions, however we practice them, we’ll have opportunities to connect with our kids, friends, and family and help each other hold both our joy AND our loss. 

Let’s dream up some new traditions.

A lot of folks are staying home for the holidays, so we’ve made a list of activities that can happen right in your own living room. We’ve created a 30 Days of Christmas Advent Calendar to help you celebrate on the days your creative bandwidth is spent.  It’s a little cozy, a little spiritual, and made with a lot of love, and no “shoulds” – there’s nothing you have to do on this list, just a few suggestions that might be helpful in filling your season with more hope, peace and joy. Oh, and by the way, it’s totally suitable for sharing if you know of anyone else, near or far, who might appreciate it. To share, just pass on this link to them. Easy.

Download the calendar for your family, print it out and hang each week on your fridge or family bulletin board/communication hub. Or keep it on the iPad, if you’d prefer. Or, if you’re feeling really crafty, you and the kids could cut out the daily suggestions and add them in the sleeves of an Advent calendar you use every year or one you make yourself this year – there are a ton of ideas for how to do that online. 

And…speaking of new traditions…be on the lookout for some other fun goodies for the family that will be delivered right to your door if your kids are enrolled in church school at Winnetka Congregational. (If not, and you’re in the local area, contact me about how you could get one of these boxes for your family too.)

Let’s be each other’s magic.

We’d like to invite you to be part of the “not Christmas-as-usual” merry-making team. There’s no special uniform or badge or anything…unless you want to make one up yourself…if you do, please share! Membership is on the honor system, and the rules are pretty simple – dream up ways to create a little magic wherever you are and wherever you go. Come alongside folks you know (in a safe, socially distant way, of course) with simple surprises, wisdom, or just the willingness to listen and support. Bake your award-winning cookies (or just buy some if you aren’t sure homemade it’s the safest idea right now…) and drop them on doorsteps of neighbors or people who are especially struggling. Share holiday stories and swap traditions online. Lend a hand when one is needed – basically, be the beautiful people you’ve always been.

We’re all coming into the Advent season this year carrying a lot of baggage. But we are still coming into this season together. And I am so grateful to celebrate with you and the love that holds all of us. 

Let’s show 2020 what love can do.

By the way, here’s a list of a few of the things you won’t want to miss this Advent/Christmas at Winnetka Congregational.

Rev. Sarah Lohrbach is the Associate Pastor for Children, Family and Youth at Winnetka Congregational Church. She’s passionate about making sure every person she meets knows they are a beloved child of God. Along with the holidays, she loves picture books, animated films, LEGO kits, coloring, Minions, Harry Potter and baby goats.