Welcome to the Strangest Holiday Season of Our Lifetime

Holidays COVID BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of cnbc.com

The holiday season is here and, while it’s a time we usually gather and reunite with our loved ones, the bottom line is that this year we simply can’t afford to risk our lives and the lives of others for a day of socialization. 

Although it has been a long and bittersweet year, we have to keep the same energy we had at the beginning of March, where we were in quarantine as much as possible, to finish this year strong and healthy.

In this heartbreaking and unexpected year, it is important to recognize with gratitude the fact that it is a blessing each day to be alive. The best gift to give yourself and your family is to keep safe and celebrate this season together, but from afar. 

This holiday season, let’s show love and respect to our family by staying healthy; and show our empathy to those who have lost a loved one by continuing to practice social distancing. Practice putting effort into what is hopefully the last half of this global pandemic.

A way to keep connected with friends and family through the holidays is to schedule in and fully participate in virtual dates. I know, I know, who wants another virtual meeting, right? But this is different because you can plan out a special happy hour, baking time, or cook a whole meal together. If being in the kitchen is not your ideal pass time, other activities can be explored. What’s your interest? This is for recreational use, after all, not to be a chore.

It is all about the effort and creativity that counts in these challenging times. Set up a date and make a night out of it. Mindfully treat these virtual hangouts as real in-person time spent together. It’s investing this time apart for the sake of each other’s future time together. Así de fácil.

Now, how can you make these virtual hangouts more enjoyable, memorable, and creative during these holidays? Here are ideas to consider! Honestly, be open-minded! Indulge in technology for the time being.

If you and your loved ones like to watch movies:

A good option for movie lovers is Teleparty, where you can watch Netflix, Disney, Hulu, and HBO in sync via Chrome browsers. The downloadable extension allows you to chat in your virtual party! While we miss theatres and inviting people to watch a movie, we can use this tool to interact with one another as we stream movies and television shows together in spirit. 

If you and your loved ones like to share Youtube videos:  

On Zoom, you’re allowed to share screens! This comes in handy for *drumroll, please* karaoke! A cool practice here would be to share the screen and put on karaoke videos or enjoy Youtube videos. There are plenty of live shows on Youtube from your favorite artists if you all are into concerts. There are also endless DIY projects, makeup tutorials, artist interviews, and self-help talks – the possibilities in Youtube vary and cater to all interests.

If you and your loved ones like to listen to music together:

Spotify is testing out a Group Session option for Premium users where you can link up with friends and listen to music simultaneously. The press release on this option states that you can have “groups of two to five people can use this feature at once by sharing a ‘join’ link via messaging apps or social media with each other.” This option is especially interesting for music lovers. You can experience new albums together (Bad Bunny just dropped an album, y’all) and react to it via text or social media while listening together, or having the same music on while doing everyday activities. It helps you feel connected with your friends during this holiday season on a sonic and more personal level. 

If you and your loved ones are all about the great outdoors:

An excellent way to stay active and something that I’ve been practicing while social distancing is hiking (or walking/running/bicycling) wide-open trails upon sunrise. It could be hard to wake up in the morning, but with masks on and with only a couple of early-bird hikers in wide enough trails, it is worth knowing you are not close in direct contact with people. Exercising during this pandemic is crucial as it helps you maintain a balance and create endorphins. The idea here is to keep your mask on at all times. Since the weather is colder now, it is completely doable and recommended should you see hikers around. Stay alert!

On Noche Buena and New Year’s Eve:

Now, on the night of Christmas Eve (which is, in my opinion, the most tempting holiday to stay far from your family), instead of everyone getting together physically, why not do a Zoom meeting for your family where you can sign on and show each other opening the gifts? Connect the Spotify Group Session together with a collaborative playlist and use technology to your advantage. New Year’s Eve can follow the same formula: collaborative playlists to dance to in sync and going one step further to drink and eat the same meals to feel as if you are all together. End 2020 healthy and at ease!

As I said, it’s more effort, but it’s the safety net of it all that will bring peace, knowing you are okay. Better safe than being paranoid about any exposure in the long run and tracking down the exposed. The C.D.C. guidelines are extreme to stay safe (and way more effort) anyway – they recommend guidelines if you decide to attend the holidays with people that are not from your household, travel, etc. A specific guideline reads, “Encourage guests to avoid singing or shouting, especially indoors. Keep music levels down, so people don’t have to shout or speak loudly to be heard,” can you honestly imagine that happening in a Latino family? Probably not.

Let’s help keep each other safe this holiday season. The pandemic will pass, and you’ll have time after to spend with your family safely, rather than in a hospital. Take care!