Holiday Care

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The Latino culture is undeniably rich, with many traditions and lifestyles passed down for generations. This culture emphasizes the value of family and friends and the closeness among its members. In this manner, being part of this upbringing means attaching importance to regular family and social gatherings on the weekends and special occasions. But, this year, COVID-19 has created a threat. When COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, this led to a number of nationwide mandates, such as social distancing and citywide lockdowns. These restrictions to people’s everyday lives have been difficult for all, but particularly challenging for some.

The harsh reality is that between now and the end of the year, things are not likely to get any better. In fact, the situation may become more difficult as the holidays approach. In addition to the already immense toll to people’s mental wellbeing due to the death of loved ones, sickness, financial hardships, and numerous unexpected changes endured, this holiday season will pose exceptional challenges to people around the world. Many in our community worry about the ways in which holidays and festivities may look different this year. Cherished traditions, religious services, and celebrations may be canceled or altered due to the pandemic restrictions, thus triggering some holiday blues.

Holidays During COVID-19

Holiday traditions help build strong bonds between family, friends, and our community. This year, however, many are devoid of the anticipation of reuniting with friends and family to celebrate. Similarly, during the holidays, people get a chance to feel connected to their family history and celebrate generations of family traditions. Sadly, for many people, this will be the first time they will have empty chairs at their table because of the death of loved ones due to COVID-19. Holidays are celebrated by coming together and gathering around a festive table. With the looming presence of COVID-19 and all the restrictions that come with living during a global pandemic, people will be forced to reconsider their celebrations in order to stay safe. The unfortunate truth is that holiday celebrations are not compatible with pandemic precautions.

Connecting During COVID-19

While in our community many have agreed to follow social distancing protocols, others are still planning to gather with loved ones regardless of the risk. Whatever the case may be, as the holiday season quickly approaches, we must find ways to protect ourselves, our families, and our community while still celebrating and showing love to those we care about. While large gatherings like festivals, parades, and parties might not be possible this year, there are other ways to create memories and spend time with those we love. Some suggestions to remember this holiday season during the pandemic:

  • Consider adapting your family traditions to follow social distancing recommendations. Even though hosting a big dinner, meeting up with friends, and attending holiday parties may not be possible this year, virtual alternatives could facilitate keeping in touch with important people in your life.
  • Adhere to the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines when planning a gathering at home. If possible, hold outdoor events with a small group of local friends and family members, making sure that your guests wear a mask, maintain social distance, and do not share food or drinks.
  • If you have experienced the death of a loved one, honor their memory with a special ornament, wreath or centerpiece, or a candle lit during a holiday.
  • If face-to-face religious services or events have been canceled in your community, try participating via televised services or online platforms.
  • Most importantly, take care of your mental health. Those who live alone or far away from family, or who have lost loved ones recently, may find holidays especially difficult. Make sure to keep connected with positive and supportive people in your life, even if you may not be able to see them in person at the moment.

Despite the challenges that will be faced this holiday season, it is important to remember that there are ways to make this time of the year special for you and the ones you love while staying safe and practicing social distancing.

Mental Health Resources

  • U.S. Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Tropical Texas Behavioral health crisis line (available 24 hours): (877) 289-719

Co-authors include Dr. Mercado’s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV: Ruby Tijerina, Frances Morales, Amanda Palomin, Stephanie Navarro, and Andy Torres.

How will you be celebrating this year? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.