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Three tips for keeping families close during the holidays

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Three tips for keeping families close during the holidays

It’s no secret that the holidays are looking different this year due to COVID-19. Families and friends are looking for new ways...

It’s no secret that the holidays are looking different this year due to COVID-19. Families and friends are looking for new ways to celebrate while keeping everyone safe. This change can serve as an opportunity to create new traditions. 

Part of Ronald McDonald House Charities’ mission is to keep families close, and this year it is especially important to share how all families can still remain close for the holidays. Shelly Shafer Cates, director of operations at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana, has put together a list of nontraditional ways we can celebrate this year while keeping our families close. 

1. Getting Creative via Technology

For many families, this holiday season will be spent apart. While most will be unable to gather in person, we shouldn’t overlook other ways to connect with family. Everyone is already using technology to connect with one another; let’s take that a step further and get creative this holiday season with how we use it. For example, families can try:

• Video calls for virtual meal gatherings and holiday celebrations

• Virtual game night (exp. Pictionary, bingo, etc.)

• Virtual gift exchange or white elephant gift exchange

• Virtual watch parties for your family’s favorite show or Christmas movie

• Virtual concerts 

Like others, the families at Ronald McDonald House are also using technology to connect with their families throughout the holiday season. To help keep families connected, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana offers tablets for any guests that want to get in touch with family members and friends that can’t be there with them.

2. Be Open to New Traditions

Holidays are often filled with traditions for families and include activities that have been passed down for generations. This year, families should embrace the opportunity to start new traditions while others are on pause. This year may include gathering outside if weather permits, social distancing and wearing masks. Although this is not how we imagined the holidays, we can put a fun twist on this year’s unique holiday season.

For example, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana is creating these new traditions by spreading holiday spirit with extra decorations, holiday music playing throughout the House, decoration kits for family’s doors, a virtual visit from Santa Claus and encouraging families to dress up and decorate their rooms as well. Families looking for new traditions could try:

• Seeing Christmas light displays in separate cars (for example, Indiana State Fairgrounds) 

• Socially distanced baked good swaps through mail or drop-off 

• Sending Christmas cards or letters to those in the military

3. Celebrate by Giving

The holidays are a time for many of us to reflect on how grateful we are for everything we have. This year, many of us are reflecting on our gratitude for our health and our family’s health. While some may be fortunate enough to celebrate the holidays this year, others may be facing issues that can make the holidays a challenging time. 

I encourage those of us that are in a position to give to do so. Like Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana, most nonprofit organizations are looking for donations to further help those being served by their mission. Giving near the holidays can help ensure that nonprofit organizations can continue to support those who are less fortunate and in the greatest need. Families can help other families in crisis when they donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana. Donations can even be made as a gift to honor a loved one.

While the holidays look much different than they have in recent years, I encourage families to find ways to stay close even if it can’t be done in person. This unique year has offered us an opportunity to use technology to stay more connected and create new traditions that may end up being celebrated for years to come.

Shelly Shafer Cates is director of operations for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana.

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