THE PARENTING BIZ – 12 Holiday Traditions During A Pandemic Christmas
Christmas is normally a time for families to come together, enjoy a festive meal and good company, while making memories that will last a lifetime.
But, there has been nothing normal about the past nine months and this Christmas season will likely see people gathering in smaller numbers and be less likely to travel to spend the holidays with distant relatives, as a result of ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.
With many people facing an uncertain financial future because of employment issues, some of those same people will be scaling back on celebrations and finding simpler, less expensive ways to spend the season with family across Windsor and Essex County.
So, in recognition of simpler joys, while making your own fun and enjoying quality time together with family and friends, Biz X magazine has put together a few new suggestions for 12 holiday traditions to help keep the merry in Christmas.
Tradition #1: Start With The Elf On The Shelf
A 15 year old tradition, The Elf on the Shelf has become a popular way for parents and children to prepare for Christmas by doing good deeds while being “watched” by the Elf who flies away to the North Pole each night to report on activities to Santa and then returns to ‘hide’ in a different place.
Written by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and illustrated by Coe Steinwart, the book tells a Christmas story written in rhyme and explains how Santa can tell who has been naughty or nice.
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, these magical elves visit families then disappear on Christmas Eve until the next holiday season.
The Elf comes in a special box and includes a hard cover picture book.
It’s suggested that families don’t touch the elf for fear it will lose its magical powers, but they can speak to it and tell it all their holiday wishes, which are then reported back to Santa in time for Christmas.
Tradition #2: Buy A Christmas Ornament For Your Family And All The Special People In Your Life
When you’re searching for that special ornament to hang on your tree or to recognize someone who has helped you and your family during the pandemic, head to Girard & Co. Flowers & Gifts at 1371 Grand Marais Road West in the Yorktown Plaza.
Owner Alba Giglio has a large collection of themed Christmas ornaments to meet every occasion; and families are invited to shop together to choose the perfect one!
“Ornaments are very popular, and they can recognize grandparents, grandchildren, weddings, newly-married couples, first child, special neighbours and just about anyone who has made a difference in your life during these difficult times,” says Giglio. “They’re mementos and more than just ornaments. They give people an opportunity to say something they might otherwise have difficultly saying.”
They also give people a chance to thank neighbours from far away who may have helped your loved one get through the pandemic by providing meals or rides, sweeping a sidewalk, picking up necessities or shovelling snow.
“It’s a great way to send a message of appreciation,” Giglio adds.
Tradition #3: Offer A Helping Hand To The Needy
If you are looking to help other families and people in need over the holidays, you might want to consider the Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Foundation’s (WECAF) “Holiday Program”.
Mike Clark, Manager of Public Relations & Fund Development, emphasizes that the need is increased this year and the challenges are also greater in attracting donations.
“We provide help to more than 700 families and our holiday campaign is very important,” Clark comments. “In the past, hundreds of Windsor area residents, businesses, churches, schools and organizations participated in our adopt-a-family program, but with so many people working from home or not working at all, organizing those group activities has become a challenge.”
With many people likely feeling uncomfortable doing their shopping themselves, more will fall on the shoulders of WECAF staff and volunteers to help make sure each family’s wishes are fulfilled.
“We’re always open to accepting gift cards for groceries and clothing,” says Clark. “We’re also seeing some funds normally spent on holiday parties and office gatherings allocated to us as well, and we would welcome more groups to consider us this holiday period.”
To donate to the “Holiday Program” or if you are interested in adopting a family, visit online.
Meanwhile at The Downtown Mission of Windsor, there are ample opportunities to lend a helping hand, says Rukshini Ponniah-Goulin, Director of Development.
“We need volunteers to work in the kitchen, in the food bank, in the clothing bank, to help pick up fresh produce in the county and deliver it to more than 60 schools and organizations across the county,” explains Ponniah-Goulin. “We also need people to staff our distress line to help people going through emotional and isolation issues given the current circumstances.”
In a normal year, more than 1,100 volunteers would be used to allow the mission’s work to run smoothly, but throughout the COVID-19 crisis, that number has been chopped to 300.
“There are fewer opportunities, but we can still use the help,” Ponniah-Goulin mentions. “We require everyone to wear a mask and stay socially distanced because we want to make sure everyone stays healthy and safe.”
Tradition #4: Celebrate At Home Virtually With The Entire Family
Cooking and baking at home exploded, during COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions and Reid Williams, Co-owner of Williams Food Equipment, expects it to be even busier over the holiday period.
“It had the effect of revitalizing home cooking because people were seeking a hobby and baking was impacted the most,” indicates Williams. “There’s been an overall increase in appreciation for home cooking and baking.”
At Williams Food Equipment there is a large selection of cookie cutters, spoons, pans, mixers and everything a home baker might need to get started this holiday season.
Planning a family baking day can be fun for everyone at a time when large gatherings are going to be limited by ongoing restrictions.
If everyone in your family is not able to get together, consider a gingerbread house party onlin to include other family members in different towns, provinces or countries.
Be sure to make your dough, bake all the pieces and assemble your gingerbread house ahead of time. Then set a date to connect to your family via Zoom or Skype so everyone can decorate their gingerbread house with candy and icing, while chatting about past holidays together. And, if gingerbread is not your fancy, have everyone bake their favourite Christmas cookies instead — online all at the same time!
No matter what you choose to bake or create, Williams recommends picking up what you need as soon as possible.
“We noticed that suppliers were running out of products during the early stages of the pandemic and we anticipate the same may happen as Christmas approaches,” says Williams. “We’re trying to anticipate and plan further ahead, but the smart shoppers will get what they need early.”
The Williams’ store is located at 2150 Ambassador Drive.
Tradition #5: Design Your Own Christmas Cards
It’s time to turn off all devices, except for your holiday music play list, and get crafty!
Katrina Rutter, Owner of Beatnik Art Supplies, has all the supplies needed to help families design their own homemade Christmas cards.
“We have blank cards, paper, watercolours, brushes, pencils and everything else you can think of to make the family project run smoothly,” lists Rutter.
It can also be fun to hand deliver cards locally, while taking in all the sights and sounds of Christmas decorations across the city.
Last year, Beatnik offered classes to help people learn how to make their own cards, unfortunately they are unable to offer them this year because of COVID-19 concerns.
“It’s disappointing, because they were really fun classes, but by next year, hopefully, we’ll be able to invite people in again to take classes,” she says.
Rutter also sells polymer clay so that families can design and make their own Christmas ornaments.
“We have everything from fine art supplies, for the accomplished artist, to paint-by-number sets for beginners and children looking to create their own artwork and memories,” states Rutter.
Beatnik is located at 224 Erie Street West in Windsor and on Facebook search under “Beatnik Art Supplies” to learn how to make your own watercolour cards.