Holidays are bad enough without it being 2020.
Enter COVID, a bizarre election season, and your great Aunt's incessant questions about why you don't have a ring on it yet.
I personally have always struggled with the holidays, and I'm not looking forward to this year's edition. I have honestly thought about skipping the holidays this year. But that wouldn't be kind to myself or my family so I've decided to put on my big girl pants and face the 2020 holidays head on.
I've been asking God lately, How would you have us approach this? How can we have a 2020 holiday season that puts You first and honors You?
The way I see it, there are three major hurdles to this upcoming holiday season: the awkward questions (when are you getting married, when are you having kids, etc.), the 2020 election, and COVID. So let's address each of those individually.
The Awkward Questions
I read a great article the other day by Stephanie May Wilson on how to answer these questions and the one thing that stood out to me was that the people asking these questions might be asking them because they genuinely want to know how you're doing but aren't sure what to ask you. Whether that's the case or not, here's a few tips to approach this issue.
1. Don't bring your emotional insecurity with you.
Here's the deal: if you come in emotional about not having a date for the holidays, you will be emotional when asked about it. This isn't as simple as flipping a switch; you need to do the hard work of working through your emotional insecurity about it BEFORE you show up for the holidays. That doesn't mean you'll be "over it"; you'll just have a better well to draw from when asked these awkward questions.
Some things you could try:
-speak with a friend or counselor about the upcoming holidays
-journal through some of your insecurities and fears about questions you might be asked
-have an answer prepared ahead of time and define where you're boundaries will be if your relatives continue to ask questions you aren't comfortable with
And, if there is alcohol involved, DO NOT drink too much. That's not a good way to prepare yourself to handle to the holidays.
2. Tell them how you're doing.
Redirect the theme of the conversation to what has changed since you last saw this person. For example, I've come down with crippling migraines, started a business, we're attending a new church plant and I've been doing holy yoga regularly. Those are four things a lot of my relatives don't know that could start a real conversation that doesn't involve whether my uterus is inhabited.
3. Validate their concerns.
Depending on your preparedness to have these conversations, you could be incredibly honest and transparent with your relatives. If they're concerned you aren't dating anyone and you're already 32, you probably are too! So tell them that! And then bring it back to God.
I was really hoping 2020 would be my year, but it seems like God had other plans. I definitely want to get married and have kids in the future, but I haven't met the right person yet. I'm praying that God will bring a good Christian man into my life, and I'm surrendering this to Him because it's hard to be alone.
Then you have two choices: continue to engage in conversation about this with them, or change the subject. That will totally depend on their level of engagement and your emotional readiness. If you change the subject, go back to point number two and talk about some of the things that have changed for you this year. Most people aren't used to discussing emotions to that depth so many of your relatives might change the subject for you!
Politics and the 2020 Election
Why did 2020 have to be an election year? Honestly.
The thing about holidays during the election years is that the election is over, but the new terms haven't started. Which means we all know who's taking over, but we don't really know how it's going to look. It is a season of severe unknown that causes even the most confident voter to think they made a mistake. So, how are we going to handle this?
1. Acknowledge the fear.
Accept and affirm that people are scared. If your aunt says she's worried about taxes being raised, tell her, I know you're scared. It's terrifying to know so many changes are coming that we have no control over.
You don't have to take sides of the argument (in fact, I might suggest you not take sides). You don't have to agree with what they're afraid about, just recognize that they are afraid. Hilary Rushford did a great podcast on how to respond to people that I highly suggest you listen to on your way to your grandma's for Thanksgiving.
2. Remind people that God is in control.
If you don't come from a family of believers, this is a chance to share your faith! And if you do, this is a chance to encourage (or admonish) their faith.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. ~Romans 13:1~
This is pretty simple guys; if someone is in a position of power, it's because God put them there. End of story.
Now that doesn't mean that they will do everything right, but God has allow them to be put in that position. The election results didn't surprise Him.
In many of our conservative, flag-waving Christian homes, there is this idea that if the wrong person is elected it's because this country is going to hell in a hand-basket and a bunch of heathens voted for the wrong person. So let me say this one more time, NO ONE finds them-self in a position of authority that God would not allow them or did not know they would have. He is in COMPLETE control.
3. Walk away.
So something super awkward, my husband and I live in an area that is full of refugees and immigrants. It's actually a designated refugee suburb. And we live there by choice.
So there is nothing more awkward and uncomfortable than listening to relatives complain about how immigrants are ruining our country because I KNOW THOSE IMMIGRANTS BY NAME. This isn't a political message, it's just my life.
I come from a very conservative family, so that means "immigrants are ruining this county". Sometimes conversations get heated because everyone agrees and they're just fueling each others' fire. And there's nothing I could say or do to douse the flame. So you just got to walk away.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~Proverbs 15:1~
Sometimes that soft answer is getting out of dodge. Don't get caught up in the emotion of it.
Alright, let's talk pandemic.
I think we all hoped we could have normal holidays, but COVID is still alive and well. I'm not here to give you medical advice, but I do want to encourage you to prayerfully consider how you're going to handle the pandemic this year. Here's a couple things to note:
1. You probably don't see your extended family on a regular basis.
Everyone is going to see their extended family and then return to their small circle of "people I see regularly". And we're all coming from our "people I see regularly" circles to see our extended family. So if one person in our cousin's "people I see regularly" circle has been exposed, everyone in our extended family could bring exposure back to their "people I see regularly" circles. That's a lot of exposure.
I'm not going to tell you how to keep your family safe, but here are a few suggestions you might want to consider when making your holiday plans:
-Keep it small. Maybe meet as smaller groups and video call in.
-Meet in a larger space than you usually do to allow for more social distancing.
-Wear a mask, especially around high-risk family members.
-Fist bump instead of hugging.
-Make sure you have tongs for all of those finger foods.
-Sanitize yourself regularly that day (wash hands, etc.).
-Don't go if you have ANY symptoms.
Again, you don't have to do any of these things, but I wanted to give you some guidance on what you might do to make your holiday a little more COVID friendly.
2. Love your family well.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:4~
OK, I'm just going to say this: you might have to make some decisions you don't like.
Your high-risk grandpa might want kisses from everyone, but you're worried about getting him sick. Your aunt might want everyone to wear a mask, but you can't wear a mask because of your asthma (this one is me; I've been having asthma attacks like crazy). Your parents might want to act like everything is fine, but you saw your baby cousins stick they're hands in the pudding one too many times.
I don't have the answers to all of these questions. I would just encourage you to prayerfully consider how you want to handle these things. Define your boundaries ahead of time so you aren't caught off guard.
3. Don't let fear win.
It's one thing to be safe, it's another to let our fear of illness ruin our time with our family.
Take a deep breath and remind yourself that God is in control. Our fear doesn't serve us or our time with our family.
I hope you have a great holiday season and are able to spend a lot of blessed time with family and friends!
With Love Always,
P.S. What are some ways you're approaching this holiday season? Are you excited? Fearful? How is your family coping with the pandemic? Share in the comments below!