It’s that time of the year again! But this year “that time of the year” will not be the usual affair. We won’t be gathering to welcome Sinterklaas. There will be no Christmas markets to visit, and we might even be banned from visiting friends and family for Christmas dinner, breakfast or brunch. And most likely we won’t be able to visit our favorite restaurant to enjoy a family meal without having a sink full of dirty dishes. And we have no one but the corona virus to thank for it all. Grrrr…
However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it cannot be the most wonderful time of the year. All it means is that we have to make an extra effort to bring joy to the festivities. Here are some things you can try to make sure the festivals remain festive:
- Decorations – Usually we feast our eyes on the beautifully decorated city streets and Christmas markets. My personal favorite is the Maastricht market. However, as this year we shouldn’t and most probably won’t be able to visit our favourite Christmas wonderlands, why not bring the Christmas sparkle to our homes?Set up a tree; it can be so much fun hanging all the baubles with young kids. Decorate the windows and door frames with tinsel garlands. Put up a wreath. Let the kids go all out with Christmas-themed window stickers.Light up your gardens and your balconies with LED light strings and garden gnomes. All those miniature Christmas villages look lovely on the windowsills. Make a nativity scene in your backyard. It can be a great project to keep the kids busy during Christmas break.You can even have a Christmas house decoration competition with your neighbours. Remember what Ted did with his living room and Marshal with his house in How I met your mother? Now there is an idea!
- Food – A festival isn’t a festival until the delicious smell of food wafts from the kitchen, slowly filling the entire house. As we may have to skip the visit to grandma and hence miss her cooking this year, and the restaurants may remain closed as well, this might be the best time to sharpen the edges of our rough cooking skills. Let your partner and kids be your sous-chefs. Muffins, cupcakes, cookies, sticky buns, casseroles, make whatever you can and even what you can’t. What do you have to lose? There is no need for perfection or stress about presentation either, as there will be no one there to judge or criticize you. It can be a great way to make lasting memories and who knows, it might become one of your Christmas traditions!
- Entertainment – Play the classics! And don’t forget to dance to the tune. Jingle Bells by Bobby Helms, It’s the most wonderful time of the year by Andy Williams, and Let it snow by Frank Sinatra are my all-time favorites. Watch Christmas themed movies. Board games are a wonderful idea on any family night, so why not on Christmas and New Year’s Eve as well?
- Keep in touch – Sadly, the new way of showing your care for our loved ones is by keeping away from them. This year it’s more important than ever to let them know that, even though we might not be able to see each other, they are always in our hearts and minds. Send greeting cards to everyone, even people you haven’t spoken to in years or aren’t especially close to. They might be in the greatest need of some love and kindness, as festivals tend to make us feel most lonely. Write a personal message, include a family photo or if you have crafty kids, let them make the cards. Send a small gift, if you can; it doesn’t have to expensive. Make time for a call or video chat. Ever since corona, all my cousins and my siblings get on a video call once a month. We can’t always hear each other and often end up either repeating ourselves or saying ‘what’ a dozen times, but hey, that’s half the fun of it.
These are difficult times and yes, pakjesavond, Christmas and even New Year’s won’t be the same. But different doesn’t necessarily have to mean bad.
Written by Priyanka Sharma