NEWS | Dec. 8, 2020

Resiliency through COVID-19 and the holidays

By Crista Brady-Szabo Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Community Support Office

Holiday Season 2020 is upon us. The time and months since the pandemic started seem like minutes and years ago all in in flash. For some of us, we were starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but others saw the foreshadowing of a second wave. Now, that second wave is here. We need to embrace it, make the most of it and ensure we continue to grow in our own personal resilience. While this pandemic may require us to be physically distant, we need to overcome feeling socially distant or socially isolated. The holidays have always been a time to connect with our friends and loved ones. This year, we need to learn how to connect differently. Get creative! You never know, this year you may start some new traditions! The Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Community Support Office has put together a list of 12 fun things to do this holiday season that will not only keep you safe but also keep you connected!  

1. Host an online or physically distanced event

Invite guests to your online meal. Sure, we are sick of Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but connecting and hearing the voice of your Grandmother, best friend or child while you sit and eat dinner is priceless. Quite possibly, you will find you have a deeper appreciation for them and can truly listen and focus on what is being said.

2. Contactless Cookie Exchange

Invite your friends and guests for a contactless cookie exchange party. Choose an outdoor spot where everyone can spread out and exchange baked goods safely. Let your guests return home with a bag full of happiness! Remember to bake with gloves on and wear a fresh pair during the exchange process.

3. Christmas Light Walk/Drive-Thru

New Jersey has so many beautiful towns! As a kid, my mom and aunt would take all my cousins and me to Pitman, Haddonfield and Hammonton to see the decorated shops and lights in town. Grab some hot cocoa, blast some holiday tunes in the car and set out on an adventure that will dazzle your eyes!

4. Christmas Movie Night with Friends & Family 

Bring back the nostalgia with a dinner and a movie. Make a list of the top holiday movies such as “Home Alone,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and “Frosty the Snowman.” You can create an event on Google Meets, Facebook Rooms or Zoom and watch a movie together.

5. Virtual Game Night

Begin your holiday season with Holiday Game Night. Lineup a set of games that can be organized online and participants can easily take part in. Try your hand at Christmas Bingo, Charades or Christmas Movie Trivia, just to name a few. There are many apps out there that allow you to play online. Play online “Scrabble” with mom or through the House Party app, play a competitive game of “Pictionary” with your cousins in another state!

6. Go on a Hike

Fall and winter are arguably the best times to enjoy the outdoors! Hike in cooler weather and explore the scenic landscapes of changing leaves or even perhaps a light snow. Whether you want a pleasant stroll or strenuous exercise, you can choose from a variety of trails or mountain hikes depending on where you live. I have found the local county parks pages helpful and it lets me check off my list of the ones I’ve visited. If you happen to get “lost” on a trail each park has online maps to help you find your way! The great thing about taking a walk or hiking is that you can bring or meet up with a friend you have not seen in a while. Just remember if you are not able to maintain physical distancing while strolling…be sure to wear a mask!

https://www.co.burlington.nj.us/235/Parks                                                   https://ocparks.co.ocean.nj.us/frmFindPark                                      https://www.camdencounty.com/service/parks/

7. Go to Church Online

So many churches have services online these days. Maybe you do not attend church weekly, but it has always been a part of your holiday tradition. Guess what? It is still available for you. You can find out everything you need to know about all of the holiday religious services offered by visiting the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Chapel Facebook page or by calling the Chapel at 609-754-4673.

8. Holiday Singing

Didn’t you just love when your doorbell would ring and there was a group of adults and children outside singing Christmas Carols? Start a new old tradition and bring this back! You can hold a practice online (school chorus does it, so why not?). Then, create a mapped-out route and carol from door to door. You will need to wear your masks while singing, but I promise you will sound just as wonderful (or maybe just the same). Don’t like standing in the cold? Maybe your family & friends are too far? Host an online Karaoke night! There are many apps that you can use like Smule, The Voice Karaoke and Star Maker that will make your heart sing!

9. Holiday Scavenger Hunt

You can create an outdoor scavenger hunt. This can include many of the ideas mentioned above or even create a list of your own. In small groups, you can drive or walk to complete the hunt. Afterwards, gather outside by a small fire while sipping hot chocolate.

10. Random Acts of Kindness

Let’s not forget the holiday season is a time for giving and sharing, not just for getting and receiving. The simple act of helping someone can produce those good feeling hormones we all need and love to feel. You can donate to a homeless shelter, drop off a fresh batch of bread to your neighbor, find a local Giving Tree to donate gifts or bring old blankets to the local animal shelter. With just a little searching, you can find so many more ideas and causes that need an extra act of kindness this holiday season!

11.  Secret Santa/Gift Exchange

Do you have a group of friends, family members or co-workers that you would normally do a holiday dinner with? Set a dollar limit, create a public wish list and do a virtual gift exchange! You can do this on Amazon, but the free Elfster app will draw your names, help everyone create their own wish list and then keep the secret elf a surprise until the exchange!

12. Invest in Yourself

With all the hustle and bustle of a typical holiday season, maybe this year will be the best year to take care of yourself. When you think of the holidays, it all comes down to happiness, but only you can make yourself happy. Happiness stems from increasing your own resilience, having a sense of worth and purpose. Do something for yourself that makes you happy! Try a new hobby, sit by the fire with a book, take an online class or start a new tradition!

Remember, at the end of the day, sometimes the simplest of things are the most memorable. Whatever you choose to do this holiday season, the JB MDL Community Support Office wishes you well!