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Many of you who follow me know that I love the holidays. This is my favorite time of the year — giving thanks and gathering with family and loved one at Thanksgiving, followed by the festive and ever-cheerful Christmas and New Year’s Day. It is a time to spend with family and share time and food. To be honest with you, I sat and struggled with any words of wisdom for families this year. Things will look different for most. But what can we do to keep the seasons happy and alive?

I read Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for the holidays that recommend staying home, and if you do go somewhere, take your own everything from utensils to food. This depressed me more. So, I sat and thought, “What can we do to make this the most normal time of the year for us?”

First, some of you will have your “pods” that you feel comfortable with and will be able to have some normal holidays. However, what to do if you don’t? How about cooking that meal and video chatting with others while you eat? You can sign up for a Zoom account for free and have 40-minute conversations. So, if there is more than you and one other member, this could be an option. Or possibly Google Hangout. We all sit around the table and talk anyway, so this would bring everyone together to talk during the meal from the comfort of their own homes. I predict small turkeys being bought this year. 

Those favorite football games you like to watch and give each other a hard time over, you might have to do it over text. You can’t scowl at the other, but you can send them emojis that can be just as fun.

Our decorations will still be the same and maybe even better. Be sure to include the little ones when decorating. Challenge neighbors and/or friends to a decorating contest. Put up a poll and see who gets the most votes or have some impartial judges go around.

What about caroling? We can bundle up, if it’s not super cold, and take our family or pod to the outside of the seniors’ homes or drive around to people who could use cheering up and carol from a distance. What about making a recording of your family or pod caroling and sending it to the senior homes to be played over their sound system. It is all touchless. 

Do new service for others that you never had time for and now maybe can. Find a family or an organization that is struggling and see if you could donate a tree or something to help brighten their holidays.

One final thought, with things different this year, you will want to pay attention to youth and their feelings. Have them talk about their feelings, if they will. It is important to acknowledge everyone’s feelings whether happy or mad. Things are different and it’s okay to have feelings, but it is how we deal with them that is the big part. Hopefully, by doing good, they will have good feelings.

When it comes to cards this year, how about writing a personal message on each card you send out instead of just signing them. Be thoughtful, we all can use a boost in our spirits this year. 

Now, I don’t know if I have enlightened you, but I hope I have made you stop and think about how you could do something different to help bring some cheer into others’ lives and your own. Whatever you do, enjoy what you do and include your youth, if you have any, and do it safely. 

Have a joyful holiday season and we will see you in the new year.

You can check out the CDC guidelines for the holidays at this link:

4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page at 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.