With the pandemic upending normal routines and travel plans, many families are trying to maintain at least some of their favorite holiday traditions this season. For blogger and mom Brooke Angelique, who has more than 5k followers on Instagram, that means having everyone in her family slip into matching pajamas before bed on Christmas Eve, “so that when Christmas morning comes, we’re already in our festive attire,” Angelique tells Yahoo Life. “I love looking back on old photos of all our matching outfits throughout the years.”
Angelique’s other favorite holiday tradition is watching A Christmas Story on Christmas Day. “I’ve seen the movie more times than I can count,” says Angelique, “but I still get excited every year like it’s my first time watching it.” Although Angelique and her husband won’t be with most of their extended family this holiday season, she says, “I’m grateful that we’ll be able to continue these traditions virtually.”
She’s also looking forward to starting a new tradition this year: gifting her young daughter a set of 12 individually-wrapped books on Christmas. “Each book will be labeled with a corresponding month,” says Angelique, “and beginning in 2021, she will get to open one book per month. Not only will this give her something to look forward to throughout the year, but it also allows us to stay connected with family as she opens the books and we read them aloud over video chat.”
Spreading holiday joy at home
Decor is key to making a home feel more festive during the holidays — and Angelique doesn’t waste any time when it comes to decorating. “I’ve always been one of those people who eagerly starts decorating for Christmas on November 1st,” she says. “This year, however, I chose to begin decorating even sooner — 2020 has been such a tough year for many, including myself, so I wanted to help spread some joy throughout our home for as long as possible.”
Before the pandemic began, Angelique’s daughter was in daycare and had a chance to create some sentimental holiday gifts. “I cherish those items more than anything else in my home and always look forward to setting them out each year,” she says. “There’s something about tiny footprints turned into reindeers that completely melts my heart.”
Angelique and her husband also like to dress up for the holidays. But she admits to having “a love/hate relationship” with dressing up. “By the end of a meal, I’ve completely regretted my outfit choice and cannot wait to change into sweats and an oversized hoodie,” she shares. “With us not traveling this year for the holidays, we'll likely take a more casual approach. I imagine pajamas all day, and I absolutely cannot wait.”
Along with wearing comfortable clothes over the holidays, Angelique is prioritizing self-care by taking time off from work at the end December to “just relax, be present and recharge,” she says. Angelique adds that “2020 has been such an intense year, so I’m looking forward to having this time to reset before entering a new year.”
How the pandemic is affecting their holiday plans
Because of the pandemic, Angelique and her family have had to downsize their usual holiday gatherings. “We’ve kept it small by having two to three local family members who have quarantined for at least two weeks prior,” she says. “We also canceled all traveling. It’s definitely not our ideal way of celebrating the holidays, but we’re trying to make the best of it.”
Technology also helps. Angelique shares that she’s relied “heavily” on Zoom and FaceTime throughout the pandemic and plans to continue utilizing them during the holidays to stay connected to out-of-town relatives and friends. “If there’s one thing I’ve been grateful for this year, it’s definitely technology and the ability to visually connect with family and friends while also social distancing,” she says.
For other families who are also missing seeing their relatives this year, Angelique offers this one piece of advice: “Lean on technology, if possible, to stay connected. Many of your favorite traditions, such as baking cookies, opening presents or even enjoying holiday dinners together can still be done virtually. Utilizing social media is another great way to stay connected by sharing photos throughout the holidays. I know this is an emotionally difficult time for many and it may be hard to find excitement in the holidays without the presence of family and friends. Just know that you and your family and friends are helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and hopefully, next year holiday celebrations will return back to normal.”
Although the holidays will look different this year, Angelique still plans on taking more pictures of her family. “I know that despite the crazy year we’ve had and being low on energy, we’ll be able to look back on these photos one day and cherish the memories they hold,” she says.
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