Before this holiday season, I had my doubts about how it was going to go. I worried about missing so many new traditions my husband and I have started in recent years, laying the groundwork for what we want Christmas to look like for our three young boys.
COVID wasn’t going to allow the Christmas sing-along and cookie night at the church that we’ve been to every year since my 4-year-old was born. Charlotte Symphony’s Magic of Christmas symphony concert was going to be out too. My twin sons, now 3, joined us last year at the family-friendly showing on a Saturday morning in December. I had also been hoping to rock my boys’ world by taking them on their first “Polar Express” train ride in Spencer this year. It was cancelled.
Bracing myself for a disappointing December, once it actually arrived, I was in for a surprise. Just a few weeks of anticipation of Christmas has been huge this year. With COVID cases on the rise, we’ve tried to play it smart and keep mostly to ourselves, but we needed something fresh to focus on; Christmas has been the perfect remedy. No matter how small the activity, the effect has felt large, whether it was “helping” Daddy decorate the yard, decorating the tree with Mama or just wearing necklaces of blinking Christmas lights around the house.
For parents who might find themselves going through similar December doldrums, here are my ideas for 12 days of COVID Christmas. Some of these we’ve done, some we’re getting ready to do, and some just sound good!
2. Turn picking out and/or decorating the tree into a family affair. We ordered ours ahead of time, so we missed out on potential tree farm (or lot?!) fun, but decorating was an event. Daddy strung the lights, the boys hung the decorations (all soft, plastic and largely indestructible!) and I sat back and admired, until it was time to space out what they’d hung.
3. Make popcorn and hot chocolate for a weekly Christmas movie night. Our boys are a bit young for this, but I’d love to do it as they grow. So many classic flicks to choose from, and if some in the family don’t like one, get a Christmas puzzle going at the same time!
4. Drive through Chick-fil-A for peppermint chip milkshakes. Hey, we know something as simple as a car ride can pass for a change of scenery. Everybody will love, and we’ll worry about our waistlines in 2021.
5. Speaking of scenery, driving through “Speedway Christmas” at Charlotte Motor Speedway has never made more sense as a family activity. From what a mom friend tells me – and she’s a mother of six, bless her – it’s terrific. Plus traffic moves a lot faster than McAdenville.
6. Venture out on foot to see Christmas lights – whether it’s walking the neighborhood to count Frosty the Snowman blow-ups or driving to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont to see Holidays at the Garden.
7. Bake Christmas cookies. This will actually feel like a regular holiday activity – bonus! The only thing we had to “settle for” this year was inviting family only (last year we did a playdate.) But this is a great way to get a jump on Santa’s treat or a gift for a neighbor or teacher.
8. Construct a Gingerbread house. Same principle as baking cookies, but it comes with readymade reading material and a pre-packaged kit at the grocery store.
9. Do Christmas crafts – and I’m not even slightly crafty. I found stencils of Christmas trees online, traced and cut them out with construction paper and let my boys go to town with whatever art supplies we had lying around – dot markets, stickers, and on that day I was feeling generous, paint.
10. Christmas Pajama Party. My husband and I used to wait until Christmas Eve to open ours. When the boys came along, that got moved up to the night before their Christmas PJ party at preschool. In 2020, why bother even waiting for that?
11. Turn up the Christmas music. Whether you’ve got a piano in the house and can accompany family singalongs or you need Alexa to “play some Christmas music,” nothing lightens the mood like Decking The Halls with a dance party.
12. Finally, when in doubt, play “The Grinch” on repeat. It works for us. I think we were at 10 times and counting a week after we DVR’ed it. Hey, whatever works in the age of COVID, and you can’t beat the message. As we know now more than ever, Christmas “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps…means a little bit more!”