Holidays Pandemic Style

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

The 2020 pandemic has certainly added its own unwelcome flair to our holiday stresses and joys, and this is certainly true for family caregivers. Between observing social distancing while managing the care of aging family members, nurturing your marriage, keeping track of crazy school schedules with children, and meeting the demands of your job or career, it might seem like you’ll never be able to keep all those balls in the air, but when the holidays bring even more busyness, you might feel like your whole world is falling apart!

For the next several weeks Betsy and I will be looking at the holidays from several different perspectives. We’ll consider the stress of the holidays, the joys of the holidays for both young and old, the memories made each year that will last a lifetime, and the foods of the holidays that will make your mouth water! We’ll post some of our favorite recipes!

For now, let’s start with one of the big holiday topics: FOOD! While most holiday activities will be centered around the table and a gathering of loved ones young and old, one of the things that should not stress you out during the holidays is food! Simplicity is definitely the winning recipe here. While everyone has favorite holiday treats, don’t go over the top for a dessert that takes days to prepare. Choose something fun and simple, and let others help. The best ways to handle food stress is to choose light and easy and enjoy the conversations over sweet tea or coffee more than the actual food.

Another issue this year is that the idea of “gathering” has been discouraged because of the threat of COVID-19. Our oldest family members are still our most vulnerable when it comes to the virus, but there are ways to “gather” in spite of the virus.

One possibility is to connect over ZOOM, Skype, or Facetime while eating the meal. Have someone manage the “meeting” by letting family members join through smart phones or tablets. You don’t have to spend a long time to make everyone feel included. Even a short call, where everyone shares one blessing they are thankful for in spite of the pandemic, might be a good way to set the tone. You could also open gifts together or read the Christmas story through this technology while keeping everyone safe at home.

Just don’t get mired down by the restrictions the pandemic has brought. We are all very tired of the idea of “safe at home”, but until a vaccine is safely deployed, our aging family members and those with immune deficiencies or chronic diseases are very much at risk of exposure. If we all do our part, we can all enjoy the holidays in new and creative ways while nurturing old traditions and maybe starting some new ones along the way.

I promised a few recipes, so here’s the first one. We shared it a couple of years ago, but it’s so good that it bears repeating! It comes from Southern Living and is a family favorite in the Head household that we’ve enjoyed for the past 20 years every Thanksgiving and Christmas. We call it “Cranberry Stuff”. It’s a Cranberry Horseradish sauce that we serve over cream cheese as an appetizer and then straight up as cranberry sauce on the table with the turkey. It takes a little prep, but in 30 minutes it’s ready to enjoy.

We hope you’ll join us here at Heart of the Caregiver as we embark on a holiday journey that we hope will leave you feeling filled with holiday cheer in spite of the pandemic!

Cranberry “Stuff”

116-oz canwhole-berry cranberry sauce   
13cuponion   minced
2tablespoonshorseradish   prepared
18-oz packagecream cheese   

Stir together first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Remove from heat. Cover and chill 1 hour or up to 3 days.

When ready to serve, spoon Cran-Horseradish Sauce over cream cheese on a plate. Garnish, if desired. Serve with crackers.

If you like canning, this cans really well also, and makes a great hostess gift!


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