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.

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The Holidays: What Really Matters to the People in Your Life?

Dear Vicki: “I’m devastated that my grandchildren won’t be here for Thanksgiving. How could their parents take them to Hawaii?”

Dear Vicki: “I don’t want to go to the company holiday party. Can I get out of it?”

Dear Vicki: “My husband is obsessed with finding the perfect gift for his best friend. How can I convince him that’s not the point?”

Dear Vicki: “I want to host the family holidays this year. I throw better parties, but my sister says they’re too loud. Who should win?”

Dear Vicki: “My wife and I have always had a quiet ceremony on New Year’s Eve, but now she thinks we should go to her best friend’s house instead. Really?”

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Dear Readers: Happy Thanksgiving! May this day focused on gratitude enrich your soul and create an awareness of the blessings in life that will deepen the joy in your heart. There is always something for which to be thankful.

For many people, in addition to its purpose as a day of gratitude, Thanksgiving also marks the beginning of the holiday season. And every year at this time, I receive letters from readers asking how best to address a multitude of thorny holiday issues. So, in the name of holiday harmony, I once again offer this brief reminder of what will matter the most to each of the five primary elemental personalities in your life (including you!) during the upcoming holiday season.

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Help! She Hates Thanksgiving!

Dear Vicki: Thanksgiving is less than one month away and I’m dreading it. I hate Thanksgiving. It’s so much work! I remember my mother used to cook for days to be ready for Thanksgiving dinner. And then it took hours to clean up after it. She never complained, but it must have bothered her when Dad and my brothers went off to watch football while my sister and I helped Mom clean the kitchen. My girls are teenagers now and while I’ve made the “traditional” Thanksgiving meal all of their lives, and they have helped me, I’ve dreamed about doing things differently. I want to honor the idea of being grateful – that’s the most important part – and I want my family to have a wonderful holiday, but when I suggest changing it up a little in the food department to make things easier, my husband refuses to break with tradition. Secretly, I’d like to boycott the whole holiday this year, but then I feel guilty. Am I a horrible mom? Signed: Hates Turkey

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Dear Hates Turkey: The short answer is that, no, you are not a horrible mom. Actually, you seem like a pretty honest mom to me. You care about your family and want to do well for them, but you also want to make it easier for you and your girls. That is very reasonable and actually very loving. The fact that you really want to make a good Thanksgiving holiday for your family but are feeling guilty that you might not be doing enough for your family suggests that you probably have a good amount of Earth energy in your personality. Earths care about making and keeping people happy. They want to do the best they can for their friends and family. But a balanced Earth will also know when and where to draw the line so they don’t become a squishy doormat. Congratulations on knowing when to raise your hand and ask for change!

And then there is your husband. People who value traditions and want to stick with them usually have a Metal personality. As we have said here many times, Metal people focus on the past. From that perspective, they determine what has worked before, what has not, and what should be carried forward. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” is a common Metal anthem. This sounds like your husband, right? The Thanksgiving traditions have worked for him, so why change them?

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The Five Elements: Thankful for Each Other

Dear Readers: In the USA, tomorrow is a day of Thanksgiving. And while the exact origin of the holiday may be unclear, the intent of the day still rings true: there is always something to be grateful for in our lives. Be that health, friends and family, success in whatever way we define it, or life itself, gratitude is a state of mind that’s a universal part of the human experience. It turns out it’s also deeply embedded in the Five Elements model. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, a model that claims to be no less than a complete explanation of the workings of the universe will have to contain gratitude. And it does.

In the Five Elements model, each element owes its existence and ability to function in a balanced manner to the other four. And in a very profound way, when one element receives help from another, the receiving element pays it forward, so to speak, by doing the same for a different element in the system. If Water is running low, Metal sends energy to Water. And Water will do the same for Wood, just as Wood will send energy to Fire, Fire will send it to Earth, and Earth will feed it back to Metal. It’s a neverending flow of giving that’s a key hallmark of the Five Elements model.

The other hallmark of the model is the ability of each element to ensure that no element overdoes it. If Wood has too much energy, Metal will reach across the model and decrease the excess. This guarantees Wood’s survival and in gratitude for that service, Wood will do the same for Earth, just as Earth will decrease excess for Water, Water will decrease Fire, and Fire will return the initial favor back to Metal. And while our “more is better” culture usually sees a decrease in something as bad, in reality it’s crucial for survival. There is joy in the model at both increase and decrease. But does that translate to people? I can answer that with an unequivocal, “Yes!” Let’s take a look.

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Thanksgiving: Traditions, Metal, and Fire

Dear Vicki: I need help. I just found out that our traditional family Thanksgiving is at risk. Earlier this year my brother Derek married Leslie, who I’m sure is a Fire. She’s funny, scattered, and has no structure, a fact that became apparent last week while discussing Thanksgiving. We usually have a private dinner for the 18 of us, but that seems to be out the window because Derek and Leslie are hosting the holiday. And they are dumping the turkey and throwing a party for 50! How can I get things under control and back to the traditional Thanksgiving we all love? Signed: Disgusted Guy in Denver

Dear Disgusted: How to celebrate Thanksgiving brings up lots of issues here in the States. This isn’t really too surprising because stress and expectations around the holidays often make our differences more apparent. But worry not, there is hope for the holiday. Let’s start by looking at the key players in your scenario.

It’s wonderful news that your brother has married. If Leslie is as Fiery as you say she is, and Derek enjoys that, it means he probably has a great deal of Earth (Fire feeds Earth) or Water (they’re attracted to the light and activity of Fires, the yang of summer to Water’s wintery yin). Derek probably isn’t a Wood because he’d feel burned out by too much Fire (Wood feeds Fire), or a Metal because he’d feel threatened by too much Fire (Fire controls Metal). And it’s unlikely that he’s a Fire himself or you would have mentioned how similar Derek and Leslie are.

If Derek is either an Earth or a Water, he won’t have much structure (Wood and Metal are the most structured of the elements), so will be less concerned regarding exactly what happens around Thanksgiving. If he’s a Water, he’ll be perfectly happy going with the flow. If he’s an Earth, he’ll just want everyone, especially his new wife, to be happy.

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