This year has given me a lot of time and reason to contemplate the definition of ‘home’. This should be a simple thing to answer: where is home? But I’ve slept under a dozen different roofs this year, only one of which was my own. Initially intending to pass 2020 as a traveling nomad, my plans were quickly derailed by a little thing called COVID and rather than being an intentional nomad, I became a bit of a pandemic refugee, moving from family member to family member (and friends who are like family) as I sorted through repatriation and unemployment.
The holidays are when you go home, usually the place you grew up and with your family. But this year, many of us aren’t gathering out of safety concerns and guidelines. I recently read The Power of Ritual and how historically, our sense of community and belonging was tied to religious institutions but with many no longer practicing religion, we have found that same comfort of community in other routines such as yoga, cross-fit, Friendsgivings, in my case this was my choir and flatmates. Another interesting books, Ikigai, discusses how being part of a community is integral to happiness and longevity. The pandemic has interrupted many of the activities that connect us and the associated feeling of belonging. And now, the inability to gather with family is disrupting yet another routine and comfort at Christmas. It sucks!
However, we can (and should) create new rituals to keep us grounded. I always thought of it as structure, sticking to a routine and a schedule makes me feel together, bringing order to the chaos. I made rules for myself in lockdown to keep that sense of routine but have let it lax as pandemic fatigue wears on. The same can be done for the holidays: our regular routines and rituals of being with family, singing carols, seeing Santa, Christmas markets (damn, I really love Christmas season) are things we haven’t had this year. This sounds remarkably like ‘hygge‘, a big trend in 2019 (great times…) about recognizing the little things that bring us joy.
In a year where all the best laid plans have been dashed, make a home with yourself, wherever you are. Bake the cookies and sing carols for your cat, make some popcorn to watch your favorite holiday movies and pop some prosecco. Even though we can’t be together this year, it’s important to mark the occasion and make the most of it. And when we are reunited, it will be that much more meaningful and we’ll have a renewed sense of the importance of home.