The holidays are a time for joy and celebration for many people, but this year may feel a little different due to the current health crisis. With strict protocols in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the way we celebrate may require some adjustments.

“I think everyone is aware that there are some traditions that need to be altered or put on hiatus because of safety concerns,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.

As a pediatrician and a parent, Dr. Bradshaw has seen and experienced how tough 2020 has been on families. While there are plenty of reasons to feel down or disappointed about having to alter your holiday traditions, she says, it’s a great time for families to focus on creating new traditions.

Dr. Bradshaw and other providers at Eugene Pediatric Associates strongly encourage families to follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines for holiday gatherings, while enjoying traditions that you can safely continue.

“Like the meals you cook together as a family and the gingerbread houses you build,” she suggests. “The piling in the car with hot chocolate so that you can drive with your family through neighborhoods to look at holiday lights. Even the music that you enjoy listening to and movies you enjoy watching during the holidays.”

Consider borrowing from other traditions to create new experiences for your kids. That could include dressing up in costumes for Thanksgiving dinner, creating a holiday scavenger hunt for the family, or decorating cookies or handmade cards and delivering them to a friend’s doorstep.

Let your kids help decide what activities you want to do as a family. Encouraging them to be part of that decision-making process makes activities even more special for kids.

Acknowledge feelings of disappointment. No matter how you decide to celebrate, remember that it’s OK to feel bummed about the holidays not being the same as years past. However, if you can look at the holidays as an opportunity to get creative or see it as a perfectly good reason to scale back this year, you and your family will enjoy more time making memories together.

Dr. Bradshaw says, “Help your kids focus on ‘Wow, this is so special that we’re doing this together this year. This has been a hard year for the world. But look, we’re still together, we’re still healthy, and we can still do these things.’ That kind of gratitude has been shown to be very positive for everyone’s mental and physical health.”