Cancelling the Holidays During a Pandemic

Dear Vicki: I live in a state experiencing high Covid-19 numbers and we’ve all been told we should cancel Thanksgiving, and maybe even Christmas. I’m devastated! No family gatherings? No grandchildren? No best friends? Not even any neighbors? Just me and my husband? Why bother with a turkey or baking pies? I’m so depressed; we probably won’t have anything at like the normal holiday season I look forward to every year. Even my husband, who often complains about all he has to accomplish as part of “doing the holidays” seems a bit frustrated by the changes. Do you have any suggestions on how to cope with all this? Signed: Feeling Empty


Dear Feeling Empty: During these difficult times, we find ourselves moving into uncharted territory: How does one “do the holidays” during a once-in-a-century pandemic? The short answer is that one does the holidays differently. And what that looks like will depend on the situations we find ourselves in. Do we have children living at home? Local family or friends with whom we’ve created a “pandemic bubble?” Weather that allows for outdoor events? How we approach these holidays also depends on our elemental personality, so let’s start there.

Given how upset you seem about not having “normal” holidays, I suspect that you are a primary Earth personality. Family and food, people gathered together, special traditions, etc. are of paramount importance to Earth people. This gives life meaning for them. But the holidays are not just for Earth people. Each of the other elemental personalities will have aspects of the holidays that matter to them, too. And remember that we all have all of the elemental personalities in our energetic wiring, so even though you are a primary Earth personality, you may find that some of what matters to, say, a Water personality might matter to you, as well. So, let’s look at what’s important to each of the elemental personalities during the holiday season and see how you might be able to incorporate aspects of each during a pandemic. I think you might be surprised.

Water Personalities: Odd as it may seem, in the Five Elements model the hustle-bustle of the holidays sits in winter (at least here in the northern hemisphere), which is Water time. Winter is a time for quietness and contemplation – a time for dreaming of what might be – and that energy of going inside sets the tone for Water people’s lives. This means that quiet time with one or two other people can be very meaningful during the holidays. The winter seasonality of the holidays here in America also means that the energy of Water will be an important part of the holidays. Creativity, inspiration, and imagination all sit in the Water element and will be available in abundance during the holiday season. When it’s just you and your husband at home, use that time to advantage. Watch a holiday movie together. Sit quietly – perhaps with some holiday cheer – and discuss the meaning of the season and how it relates to the bigger picture of almost everything (a very Water thing to do). Also, use the time to share dreams of what might be possible in a post-pandemic future, for that will surely come. 

Wood Personalities: Based on the way you describe your husband, I suspect that he is a Wood personality. Wood people focus on what needs to be accomplished and can become frustrated if they think too much is being asked of them (which often means they don’t think they have enough time to do their best at everything they’re expected to do). Seasonally, Wood energy represents spring, that passage between winter and summer. Normally, Wood people approach the holidays with planning zest and zeal (lists of gifts, deadlines for mailings, calendars of events, etc.), and they do this to help the holidays feel less chaotic. Chaos takes down Wood people and drives them crazy. They may not want to admit it, but Wood people need quiet time to anchor their roots in the ground and prepare for the next onslaught of action. So, a quieter holiday season this year might actually be good news for your husband if he can settle in and accept it.

Fire Personalities: Fire people love (and often need) excitement, which means the holidays are usually their time to shine. If you give them opportunities to connect with people – and be the center of attention – Fire personalities will be happy. This is no surprise because seasonally, the Fire element relates to summer, a time of action, abundance, and merriment. Because winter can be an especially dreary time for many Fire people, the loss of opportunities to gather with others and celebrate the holidays this year will probably be especially hard for them. Fortunately, Fire people have loose energetic structure (nothing is more unstructured than fire; it’s basically just visible heat), so they do well with connections that aren’t necessarily physical. This means Zoom gatherings can be a meaningful way for Fire people to connect with others and celebrate. They will also enjoy outdoor gatherings where they can be active and energetic. 

Earth Personalities: The holiday season was made for the Earth personality because most holiday events include everything that matters to Earth people: Sharing food and fun with family and friends, as well as giving gifts to express love. Since your family will not be with you this Thanksgiving, send them your favorite recipes and encourage them to make a few as a way of sharing the Thanksgiving meal from afar. Baking holiday cookies and sending them out early to start everyone’s season with familiar treats will create holiday sharing, too.

For Earth people most holiday activities are built around time spent with loved ones, usually up close and personal. And while it may not be possible to have this in traditional ways this year, there are ways to do it. Here again, Zoom (or Skype) connections can make a big difference. I would encourage you to reach out to those you will miss the most and plan regular connecting times. Perhaps Sunday evenings? You can also mail gifts ahead of time and watch the “grand openings” on Zoom. Clearly, this will not be the same as in person celebrations, but the connection that matters so much to the Earth personality will be there. You can also make your families’ favorite goodies early this year and include them when mailing gifts. And honestly, since Earth energy also represents balance, this holiday season could end up being one where you are better able to embrace the necessary balance between action and rest.

Metal Personalities: The holidays are usually a mixed bag for people with a Metal personality. They are often very serious people, so frivolous parties and gatherings can seem like a waste of time. This means that a holiday season without lots of silly get togethers might be rather enjoyable for a Metal person. That said, Metal represents autumn, a time when the growing cycle ends and nature shuts down. This constant theme of endings can make Metal people more prone to sadness, so some degree of connecting with family and friends will be important. The good news is that Metal people are frequently pretty techie, so time on Zoom or Skype (or even phone or text) with family and friends will help them stay balanced during the holidays. Metal people are usually pretty self-sufficient, too, so check in on them, but don’t require them to be part of something that they simply have no interest in. They usually know themselves pretty well.  

I hope this helps give you some ideas and options for ways to approach our very unique holiday season this year. Try to determine what’s most important about the holidays for you and your family, then create ways to replicate that from a distance as best you can. The pandemic will eventually pass, and what’s most important is that you all stay safe and well so you can celebrate dozens of more traditional holidays together in the future. Blessings to you, and Happy Holidays!

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