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8 Unexpected Ways to Find Joy Even in 2020

Where the Light Shines Through... Let’s admit it, we’re all craving holiday cheer. So much so, a large percentage of homes across America lit up like Disney World before November 26. One blogger says:


“It’s impossible for the Christmas season to be too early this year.”


Agreed. Coronavirus has upended the holidays and much-loved traditions have been altered or canceled. On top of it, our kids are struggling to regulate their emotions during an already crazed season. Amidst the darkness of winter solstice, holiday lights can help to brighten people’s days.

Even though my family will be moving soon, we dug deep into the red storage bin earlier than ever to hang up the lights. Then we bundled ourselves up and packed the dog into the back of the car, to go hunt down a more famous light show 12 miles away.


This is the best night of my life," said my 7-year-old, staring in amazement at thousands of lights blinking synchronously with pop music on the 93.5 FM radio station. “Leia [our dog] loves this!” Brilliant chartreuse and dazzling blue hearts popped in midair like an Andy Warhol painting on a Lite-Brite grid. A Cinderella coach appeared magically all at once, and a rainbow reflected in the pond at the center of the property. Each tree in the woods lit with the music, bottom to the top. Mesmerizing.


We donated to the local fire station at the door and, as we were leaving, I shouted, “Again! Again!” We looped around again, as I’m sure we will many more times before 2020 ends.


Even though celebrating the season might look different this year, we can let joy shine through the cracks. We might not be able to travel or enjoy large family gatherings, to hug the distant relatives we have not seen for a year, but we can find simple things to embrace.



What if your child is acting out, with all the craze of the holidays piled on top of uncertainty? Experts say that we can help our children find some predictability by making plans early. Let kids know what Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you celebrate is going to look like this year, and then help them work through the feelings they might have.

Here are 8 things we can do to help children enjoy the holiday season, even in 2020:

  1. Be mindful of your kids’ needs. Whether it’s preparing them in advance for a smaller holiday party, reimagining a tradition, or limiting sweets, think about how you can help your child manage their big feelings.

  2. Send joy through the mail. Perhaps there’s grandparent that your child won’t be able to visit this year. Sit down together and create a photo album filled with fun photos that will remind Grandma of her special one.

  3. Let your child decide. They can choose a holiday movie night or a family game night, or maybe they’d like to have a dance party or craft an ornament together.

  4. Give back. If it’s financially feasible, help your kids think about ways to be kind and generous to others. There are hundreds of families in need right now, and kids will learn they derive even more joy from giving than receiving.

  5. Enjoy the smells wafting from the kitchen. Whether it’s a fish feast, oven roast, cookies, pastries, or pies, we can still maintain our traditions of food.

  6. Pack the kids (and pet) into the car. Driving around your neighborhood – or even driving a bit further out–to see the best of holiday lights brings everyone together.

  7. Take time to connect. Keep your sense of humor about the situation, enjoy a deep belly laugh with a family member, or a snuggle with a beloved pet.

  8. Plan for safety. If you are gathering with loved ones outside your immediate household, make sure safety measures are discussed in advance. Where do we stand on hugging? What are our rules about masks? A good conversation ahead of time helps to avoid conflict.

As we navigate these unusual times together, we can all look for the cracks where the light shines through. As a side effect of living through this time, our kids will learn to do the same.

Kelly Prentice, is a mother, yoga teacher, writer, and activist who is moving back to Easton, PA from the Hudson Valley, NY. She recently joined Shanthi Project as a mindfulness teacher with a specialty in workplace wellness.

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