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How to show up for your chosen family during this holiday season

Seven special ways you can turn our most consumerist annual holiday into a moment of love and support after a tough 2020.

17 Dec 2020

Illustration by Ami Vadi

For those of us navigating the pain and loss of this year, the ability to celebrate might feel nebulous and out of place. It’s an understatement to say that 2020 has been rough in light of the pandemonium, the violence of the Home Office and ongoing police brutality. Rules about how families can gather over Christmas in the UK are still up in the air and the past couple months have shown the government to be more incompetent than ever. Needless to say, celebrating the holidays feels complicated in more ways than one. 

With the rug pulled out from under us, taking time to create organised fun and connections has never been more necessary. Creating pockets of joy are a lifeline given the years upheaval. It means that the end of December requires us to be even more intentional about how we love and support those we care about. Here are some ways that you and your loved ones can make this holiday season special. 

1. Set up a cook-along with your favourite elder. Celebrating apart means many of us will have to make our holiday dishes without the aid of our favourite aunty. Take this opportunity to finally learn how to make that one thing that reminds you of home and bring your loved one along with you via video call. 

2. Edit a compilation video with greetings from your loved ones. Lots of us will be unable to see our family or chosen family this season. By getting each person in your circle to record a message to your shared family or friends, it lets them know that they are thought of and cared for. 

3. Organise a remote clothes swap. Shifting our gaze away from consumerism is healthy and Marie Kondo-ing your closet to gift things you no longer use has never been more appropriate. Rather than just sending your old stuff to someone, make it a communal effort and set up a video call to discuss your long lost retail faves. This way you can expect something cute in the post and feel the satisfaction of gifting things to a new home. 

4. Turn what you’re good at into a gift. Being in lockdown means lots of us had to get creative. Whether you’ve been knitting, sewing, listing all your favourite shows by the desired mood, what you enjoy making make excellent gifts. In the reverse, how have your loved ones been coping? Can you offer to buy them gifts to aid them or FaceTime while you create?

5. Take on a Christmas movie marathon using your platform of choice. The beauty of these films is that they don’t have to be good –in fact, the worse they are the better! Give your brain a wholesome break with communal watching — PJ’s and hot chocolate are optional but absolutely enhance the experience. 

6. If movies aren’t your thing, maybe a read-along will suit you better. Spending time in other worlds reminds us that this particular reality isn’t all there is. You can bring your fellow book worms in on the experience by scheduling weekly check-ins on your literary journey. This has been the year of remote book clubs and the format can be adapted to spend quality time with your loved ones too.

7. Record your elders’ stories. This moment is a great time to be intentional about your conversations and ask questions you wouldn’t otherwise think to ask. If your elder is happy to write emails, letters or be recorded, ask them about their life. What was their first time on an aeroplane like? What’s something they’ve learned recently that surprised them? What did they feel when they met you for the first time?