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By Donna DiClementi
Manager of Outpatient Social Work

That time of year is upon us when the holidays begin to take over our lives. What can be a wonderful time of the year often turns into more stress and pressure. People living with cancer and their loved ones often experience holiday planning and events as an added complication to their already busy lives. COVID-19 and experiencing another yearend holiday season during a pandemic creates additional concern.

Not every holiday needs to be the exact way it’s always been. The picture-perfect holiday we see on TV or in our social media feeds doesn’t reflect what is true for most people. We may think that only large in-person gatherings, the best gifts, well-behaved relatives and appreciative children equal a great holiday.  What if we adjusted our expectations of what the holidays should be? What if we instead plan for what is meaningful and safer at this point in our lives?

Let’s be curious about a holiday that is fun, meaningful and less stressful. Before the season takes over, sit down with your loved ones, decide which traditions mean the most and just do those. Maybe this is the year that you create a new tradition and take a break on all the others. Could this be the year that gift exchanges with adults stop? Try to commit to seeing the small joys of each day – notice a holiday decoration you hadn’t paid attention to before; reflect and smile at a meaningful commercial; watch a couple walk hand in hand down the street. These simple tasks may fill you with joy.

Let this be the year that you reassess your holiday expectations and celebrations. The holiday season has been an important part of the year-long before TV, credit cards, social media and online shopping. Invite your loved ones to join you in focusing on what is truly meaningful about the holidays.

Simplifying the holidays may be what is truly magical this season.

For more resources to help with coping this holiday season, please reach out to the Department of Social Work at 813-745-8407.