I sent my husband a text message trying to sell him on my grand idea: a room at the Roosevelt in New Orleans, an outdoor dinner, and a carriage ride around the city looking at Christmas lights. Outdoors. Distanced. Safe, right?
What I didn’t know was that he had just examined a 30-year-old otherwise healthy man to decide whether he needed to be admitted to the hospital for Covid complications or could ride it out at home a little longer. He responded, “I don’t feel good about this right now. We’re going to have to talk about this tonight.”
And I knew in that moment that it was time to get the perfect, dreamy Christmas out of my mind.
My hubby is not usually a “no-man” when it comes to my crazy whims. He gets a kick out of indulging my spontaneous trips and adventures, but he was deeply worried about the safety of our family and I could sense it in his voice.
Every family has their own comfort level with taking Covid risks. We have the blessing of having a grandmother live next door to us. It’s always been important to us to keep her healthy by avoiding most of the risky behavior associated with getting Covid, but this time felt different. This recent spike of cases has brought family, friends, and neighbors to the emergency room unable to breathe, and suddenly the risks haven’t felt quite as worth it.
It was time to refocus and dream up some new Very Covid Christmas traditions and this is what we’ve come up with so far:
1. THE MAGIC OF CAMPING
If you have it in the budget to plan a little trip, a couple years ago we went to Blue Ridge, Georgia for New Years and had the best time. We really didn’t do much. We rented a cabin with tons of roaming room and the boys romped and stomped. We roasted hotdogs and marshmallows. It was simple, but it was good for the soul. The good news is — you don’t have to go to Blue Ridge to have this experience. You can rent cabins locally or put up a tent in the backyard! There is just something magical (albeit mildly exhausting) about introducing kids to the camping experience.
2. ALLLLL THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!
Neighborhood bike rides to look at lights. Driving around town singing Christmas carols with hot chocolate in hand. Going to one of the many drive through light displays along the coast! It’s just not Christmas without seeing the lights reflected in watching eyes. It gets me every time.
3. THE SIMPLE ACTIVITIES
Gingerbread houses, cookie decorating, snowflake making, ornament crafting. All the simple things that kids love. I used to feel like I was cramming these activities in the midst of doing a million other things. This year they are taking more of a front and center role and it’s been a lot of fun. Sunday we spent most of the day doing gingerbread houses and cookie decorating. We were so sugar sick by dinner that we could hardly eat, BUT the kids had a blast and it didn’t feel rushed. So give those kids some scissors (blunt tipped, of course) and some printer paper and let them transform the living room into a snowflake paradise. Break out the glue and the popsicle sticks and make the ornaments. It’s doesn’t have to be complicated to be wonderful to them.
4. MOVIE NIGHTS GALORE!
Our boys get giddy with excitement over a movie night. Mostly they just want to eat popcorn and stay up late, but it’s so nice to all curl up together and watch the Christmas classics. This year we got super fancy and bought a cheapo movie projector to set up an outdoor movie night surprise. We even broke out the fire pit for marshmallows and made a pallet in the yard. It was so much fun and definitely didn’t feel like a second rate Christmas activity.
5. SPLURGE ON DECORATIONS
And by “splurge,” I mean hit up the Dollar store and let the kids buy oodles of tacky Christmas décor and go wild in their bedrooms. If we’re going to be mostly at home this year, then we should have the merriest little rooms possible, right?
6. GO SPREAD CHRISTMAS CHEER
There are all kinds of fun ideas for surprising people with a little Christmas fun. Whether it’s random acts of kindness (candy canes on windshields or taking in the neighbors’ trash cans) or little goody bags left on porches after ringing the doorbell and running. My crew LOVES to do anything that makes them feel sneaky. 😉
7. WATCH THE SKY
The Christmas Star! I don’t know about y’all but I am geeking out over the Christmas Star on December 21st. We’re going to try to find somewhere rural that we can have a picnic dinner and then watch it. We may bring a telescope if we can figure out how to work the one we have. We may sing We Three Kings loudly. The possibilities for this are endless honestly.
8. HIDE CANDY CANES
Who said hunts are just for Easter? Hide candy canes all over the house and let the kids loose! Hide them in really hard places and keep them busy for a while. Bonus: if you don’t find them all, you’ll be pleasantly surprised throughout the year when you do!
9. TECHY SANTA
All the Santa ideas: Santa is calling, texting, sending videos, and who knows what else. You’re only a Google search away from interacting with Santa in some way. I even think his reindeer are livestreaming this year.
10. TOY PURGE
Am I the only one who wants to do a toy purge before Christmas? I hesitate to throw this one in here because it is ridiculously type A of me, but hey — if we’re all home, go through all those toys! Chunk the broken ones or ones missing essential parts. Bag up the gently used ones to give to local shelters or people in need. Get those toy bins ready for the havoc that Christmas morning is about to cause your home.
Christmas may be different.
It may not be Christmas shows at the Beau Rivage or large family gatherings, but it doesn’t have to be a total bust. I honestly find that my kids are happier with a little less pomp and circumstance anyway.
In fact, they might have enjoyed staying at the Roosevelt, but the chances are great that they would have bucked the idea of wearing fancy clothes and using their A+ manners at a nice restaurant. And they definitely would have slept poorly with our family of 6 crammed into a hotel room.