In the midst of a global pandemic, you may be wondering how to celebrate Easter or Passover, when we all need to stay at home.
Religious services, meals and rituals have been an important part of these holidays, but with shelter-in-place recommendations, we need new ways to celebrate. Easter, Passover, Ramadan and other holidays will still happen. They’ll just be different this year.
Let’s look at some ideas to celebrate safely and keep our spirits lifted.
Physical isolation doesn’t have to mean social isolation. Schedule a family video call with Skype, FaceTime or a conferencing service. The conference service Zoom offers free video calls for up to 100 participants. Cousins can play board games remotely, while a 30-minute video call with grandma and grandpa is a lovely way to use technology to connect with family when you’re not able to visit in person.
If you’re like me, you normally shop all over town for Easter basket loot, which is out of the question during the pandemic. But you can still manage a stellar Easter basket with allergy-friendly candy. As an alternative, online retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart will deliver Easter baskets, toys and specialty candy. Passover gifts are also available online.
Don’t Skip the Service
Many religious services are streamed live now. Others are recorded as well so you can “attend” services virtually at a time that works best for your family. This may be especially appealing for teens who love to sleep late.
Seat at the Table
No matter how far away your loved ones are during the pandemic, consider having them join you at the start of your family meal with a prayer of grace or a few words of gratitude. Most nursing homes have restricted visitors and have patients eating meals alone in their own rooms. Older parents look forward to a break from eating alone for the holidays, even if it’s a virtual gathering. If they have access to an iPad or tablet, seeing family members at a Seder or Easter dinner can really make a difference.
Though you can’t share a meal, talk to extended family members about what you might do together. Consider a virtual cooking challenge. Share a favorite, allergy-friendly family recipe. That way, everyone can try their hand at creating grandma’s scalloped potatoes or matzo ball soup. Or host a holiday dessert contest.
Psychologist Mary McNaughton-Cassill calls baking a soothing activity that can help us manage stress. “It feels familiar and can even lead to a mindful state,” she says. Kids can get in on the fun too, with simple recipes like rice cereal treats or fruit kabobs.
Drive By Celebrating
Have the kids decorate the family car with balloons, pictures or signs they’ve made and drive by friends and relatives homes. Some neighborhoods are having “Easter egg hunts” during lockdown by posting pictures of eggs and bunnies in their front windows. Put the focus on what you can do, not what you are missing.
Dress the Part
Families of younger kids in particular may have picked out some fancy outfits for the littles. Holidays are the perfect time to get out of our PJs and yoga pants – even when you’re staying at home. What we wear affects us, so getting dressed up for a holiday makes the day more special.
Nature is Always Open
Being outside, getting some exercise, vitamin D and fresh air, can make a big difference in your attitude and health. In my neighborhood, people have been walking and playing outside like never before. Weather permitting, have coffee or dessert outside or take a stroll after dinner.
Grandparents, teens and kids may be scared in these uncertain times. Or they may find the smaller holiday gatherings disappointing. Kids and teens are affected, but unlikely to verbalize their concerns without prompting. Asking open-ended questions like “How are you feeling about all of this?” can give you a glimpse inside their feelings. Just knowing that they’re not alone can be helpful.
Don’t Tempt Fate
It may seem that getting together with extended family just this once won’t hurt anything, but remember, this highly contagious virus. For now, show your love from a distance with virtual hugs until it’s safe for real ones.
This unusual time gives us a rare opportunity to slow down and really focus on those most important to us. Play games. Cook allergy-safe food together. Hide the Easter baskets (even teens love this)! Some families are even decorating their homes with Christmas decorations to instill a sense of hope during these trying times. And the Hallmark Channel is featuring Christmas movies!
Stay at home, but stay in touch. As hard as these times are, we will always remember them. Keep in mind that our kids learn how to cope with adversity by watching us. If your family is home and healthy, you have something to celebrate!
Allergic Living columnist Gina Clowes is a certified master life coach, who specializes in the needs of parents of children with food allergies. She is the founder of AllergyMoms.com, an online support group serving thousands of families and professional members worldwide.