Covid-19 has changed a lot about our world but it can’t change that Christmas is going to come this year like always and that no matter what…Christmas will be an occasion to celebrate in whatever way we can.
I’m writing this on October 20 from Winnipeg Canada. All summer we here in Manitoba felt lucky and smug that our Covid numbers were low but in the past few weeks cases have climbed and new restrictions are in place – gatherings of 5 people or less, bars closed, constant (and wise) reminders to wash our hands, wear masks and stay home.
Outdoor Christmas Markets in Toronto, Quebec City and Vancouver have been canceled or have gone online. The concerts and carol sing-alongs we usually anticipate won’t be happening. But…it’s not all bad (or at least that’s what I’m trying to prove here!!). So what could Christmas look and feel like in 2020? Have Dinner “Together” In much of our country we will be encouraged to meet in small numbers – maybe even with just those who live in our household. But we can "zoom" meet with family across the country and the world.
Last Spring when we were all just getting used to this new lifestyle our extended family got “together” for dinner. My Dad picked up take-out food packaged for each family unit and dropped off the boxes on the porch. My sister and my Mom and I all set our tables with fancy dishes and flowers and the kids set up the laptops and tablets so we could connect online. It took a little while and a few phone calls to coach the grandparents through the process of zooming in and conversation was a bit stilted as we learned to talk and listen but it was a very wonderful experience.
If you are not already set up to socialize with Zoom here’s a really great video tutorial that walks you through in detail how to get started with Zoom and how to use it.
Send a Conversation Box
A number of years ago I designed the Christmas Market Gift Chest – a beautiful wooden gift chest filled with some of the traditional and favourite cookies, pastries and confections from Germany. Lebkuchen cookies, Dominosteine and Stollen, Marzipan and liqueur-filled chocolates and Mozart Kugeln.
This year’s chest includes a small metal Räucherhaus or Smoker House decorated to look like a Gingerbread House as well as a packet of Gingerbread scented Incense Cones to burn inside.
The point of the Chest was to provide a wonderful gift option to our customers but more importantly to maybe spark a conversation between gift giver and receiver about the significance of the contents. I hope there have been conversations about the Lebkuchen like the story I heard from a customer about growing up in the city of Nuremberg where the cookies are baked and making a special trip to the bakery area of town during the Holidays to breathe in the yummy smell of cookies baking. Or possibly a story about why Europeans seem to love dark chocolate filled with liqueur so much – I’m still looking for clues on that one!!
I would love to send a German Christmas Market Gift Chest on your behalf to your friends and family in Canada but you could also create your own gift box of conversation starters. Maybe each item could come with a gift tag that states “ask me about when I first saw this” or “ask me about why this was so important in my childhood”. These questions could be the foundation for a wonderful conversation in person or via a Zoom meeting. Create an Experience Outside It seems that experts agree that there is less risk of infection outside. So although distancing is still wise we can socialize in person outside. We’ve been enjoying some visits around a fire – everyone in lawn chairs wrapped up in blankets. We’ve invested in a tripod and cast iron dutch oven so that we can bring the fiery cheer of Feuerzangenbowle outside!
If you’re like us you’ve already done all the puzzles and played the card games and it’s time for something new to play with or work on together. I came across the fun company called OMY during a visit to Europe earlier this year - they make large scale colouring posters. I placed my order in May when it became obvious that we all might be looking for something to do while stuck at home. So I brought in a number of the Christmas themed posters and colouring place mats to keep creative minds and hands busy.
Another project you may want to take on is the building of a Herrnhuter Advent Star. These Stars have such an amazing back story and are still made by the Moravian community in Herrnhut Germany. The 25 point Stars have to be assembled and it could be a wonderful new tradition to add to your repertoire to sit together and build the Star – connecting the various pieces together with the provided clips and then choosing the best place to hang and light up your Star.
Whatever way you choose to celebrate Christmas in this year of Covid we wish you peace and joy - peace in the midst of the uncertainty and nervousness and joy even though we may not get to celebrate exactly the same way we have in the past.
Tamara Owner @ Gingerbread World's European Ware Haus