The Holidays and the Pandemic

The Holidays and the Pandemic

November 6, 2020
BY: Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich

Divorce Lawyer Tenafly, NJ

Let’s keep Christmas Covid free!

Let’s face it: 2020 has not been anyone’s idea of a banner year. Record wildfires and hurricanes stemming from ongoing climate change; mass unemployment, furloughs, and layoffs; protests in the streets due to systemic racism; a contentious election; and, oh yeah, the global pandemic, which has fundamentally changed the way we live, and the way we work, and claimed the lives of over a quarter-million Americans.

So, a pretty awful year that we’ll all be glad to see go.

Before the virtual ball dop in an empty Times Square, however, it’s the holiday season. In this blog, we’ve often addressed how to navigate the already stressful and fraught holidays over the years, which marital strife, divorce, custody issues, and domestic dramas can make even more difficult (my colleague Amanda Yu, Esq. has a blog post on ‘gifting on a budget’ here). This year, however, add the coronavirus into the mix with the holiday season, and it’s going to be a lot harder to simply deal with everything.

So, if you’re divorced, a co-parent, or experiencing family problems, here are three tips to deal with Hannukah, Christmas, New Year’s— the whole holiday season.

  1. Be fair. It’s been a stressful year for everyone, and many families have not been together in their normal permutations, or often enough. (Some elderly people haven’t seen their grandchildren and families all year!) This is not the year to quibble over parenting time, or holiday schedules— this is the year to be kind. The year to figure out how to make the holidays, whether in-person, socially distanced or over Zoom, work for everyone. If that means deviating from the normal or pre-planned schedule, so be it. Holiday timing— who gets the kiddos when and where, and for how long?— can be difficult without a year that involved worrying about toilet paper. Demonstrate flexibility, leeway, and civility, and hopefully, everyone will end this tough year with at least one good holiday memory made.
  2. Be prepared. Deal with the holidays now. Seriously— when you finish reading this blog post, call your co-parent. E-mail your former spouse. Reach out to the member of the family who’s best at planning, and start dealing with the details: are we having a dinner this year? How many people does New Jersey, or your state, allow for personal indoor gatherings? Do you feel comfortable expanding your pod? If not, can we plan an outdoor, sweater-and-parka wearing mug of eggnog together? The more lead time everyone has to prepare, the easier these strangest of holidays will be.
  3. Be creative. The holidays are often about familial traditions, and a lot of traditions are going to look very different this year. Therefore, creativity will be key. No visit with the mall Santa? Many companies now offer virtual, personal Zoom with Santa experiences. (Too expensive in these times? Consider asking a work friend to dress up as Santa, and stop by the house to peek in the windows and wake the kids!) No office holiday party? Send everyone working from home a recipe for the same holiday cocktail— along with a few extra dollars for supplies— and give out a prize for the ugliest sweater-in-a-Zoom-box competition. Not seeing the grandparents? Have them virtually read The Night Before Christmas with your children on Christmas Eve— or designate different nights to virtually light the Menorah together. Don’t have the funds for your usual gift giving— but have the time? Consider asking the kids to help you with baking, or crafting ornaments that document this weird year for friends and family. Make new traditions that may even be fun to carry into a more— fingers crossed— normal holiday season in 2021.

Take a deep breath. Remember the good holiday memories of years past, and be sure to take some time for yourself, whether that’s with a cup of coffee in the morning, as you wrap a gift or a dance break to your favorite holiday song. You’ll get through this, the kids will remember the good parts of the holiday, and a new year is on the horizon.

For more information, please contact a divorce lawyer Tenafly, NJ families recommend. Call us today at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC.