Our sense of time might be affected by the quarantine lockdown: without a defined work and school schedules Monday feels like Thursday, and Saturday is no different from Tuesday. But nothing can stop the arrival of spring with its holidays and celebrations that traditionally bring people together in churches, synagogues, homes, and at dinner tables. And even though in this moment of time we might have to adjust to the physical distance between us, we can still be as close as we can be with the help of technology, ingenuity, and our love for each other, our families, and our community. Like those who came before us, we can find and treasure moments of closeness, comfort, and joy, even in difficult times. Let’s celebrate those moments, albeit with some adjustments.
Up your screen time!
No other time in history offered us so many opportunities to stay connected at a time when we were unable to be near each other. Multi-user digital communication platforms, like Zoom and Facetime, can let us get together for a virtual Passover Seder or Easter brunch. They can also transport us into each other’s homes during holiday preparations, so that we can cook, work on fun holiday projects, and laugh together, even if we are miles apart.
This spring, many religious institutions moved their services online as a way to protect the community during the coronavirus pandemic. An article in the Los Angeles Times lists several local religious institutions that stream their services live, including LA’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, All Saints Pasadena, and First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. With a little bit of research you can find and stream virtual religious services not only in your city, but from all around the world.
And while we might not be able to attend live events as part of our spring celebration, entertainment can come to us. We can get a visit from Andrea Bocelli on Easter morning or have Lin Manuel Miranda sing Hamilton to us.
Set up a group photo stream
Photo sharing apps (like FamilyAlbum, Google Photos, Amazon Photos, PhotoCircle, or Flickr) allow everyone to share and view each other’s photographs. This way, anyone participating from afar can upload photos to one shared album, be they snapshots of meal preparations, moments from holidays past, or sweet video messages to each other. Looking through this collection from different locales could make a lovely time for the whole family. This is also a good alternative to being “live” on video call. Sometimes it’s easier to do an at-home Easter egg hunt and share photos later, or to selectively document comedic cooking mishap rather than have it be observed by an audience in real time.
Get the kids involved in preparation and celebration
Preparing the home for a celebration often includes cleaning and decorating. Make sure to include your kids in both. Putting away toys as well as making pretty pastel garlands for the mantel, dying eggs and helping with the baking will help kids feel included and teach them that their contribution matters. Even if this celebration feels inferior to the ones before it, let your kids be a part of the experience. Your little ones might not remember this particular Easter or Passover when they grow up. But for years to come they will hang on to the knowledge that a holiday is made by those who celebrate it.
Make the food work for you
Fight the urge to overcompensate for the absence of “normalcy” by making all of the traditional family dishes, and then some. Whether the limitations are practical or emotional, this might be a time to simplify the menu, making do with a couple favorite staples. Consider ordering take-out or delivery from your favorite eatery: it will be great way to lessen the stress of holiday preparation and to support neighborhood restaurants affected by the quarantine.
Creativity is key
Creativity is an essential element of the human experience. Our inherent ingenuity helps us persevere in the face of challenges. If we can’t look for candy-filled eggs in the park, we can set up a fun Easter egg hunt in the living room. If the real Easter Bunny is quarantined in his own home, mom or dad can polish off their acting chops in an Easter bunny character study. If no eggs to dye can be found at the local supermarkets, egg shaped paper cutouts, stickers and paint will do the trick. Pinterest is filled with ideas for fun holiday projects. Some of our favorites include dying eggs, making egg carton baby chicks, beautiful paper flowers, or a whole family of bunnies!
Hope, resiliency, and self-reflection are themes of the spiritual holidays as well as our current cultural experience. Try to talk about the meaning of the holidays with your children. Perhaps, you can come together as a family to create collaborative representations of what the holiday means with decorating and arts and crafts. You and your little ones can make a holiday time capsule or compose letters to your future selves as a unique way to capture the memories of spring 2020, so that you may reflect on them later in life.
From all of us here at ECDA: be well and have a wonderful holiday!
Written by Marilee Hartling, RN, LMFT and Yelena Tokman, AMFT