How to Keep Family Traditions Alive While Social Distancing

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Alecia Milano
Posted by Alecia Milano on April 14, 2020

Sunday dinner at a grandparent’s house. The same flavor of cake for your birthday every year. Gathering with extended family at your favorite park for special holidays.

Family traditions like these give us a sense of belonging and a reason for generations to gather together year after year. As the resource Childhelp puts it:

“There is a reason we intentionally maintain and create traditions – it’s because they bring meaning to our celebrations and help bond us to those we love.”

But in light of current events, it’s more difficult than ever to maintain family traditions—and at the same time, more important than ever to stay connected.

Even though we aren’t able to physically connect with family members we don’t live with while social distancing, we can still keep family traditions alive. Here’s how.


1. Get “Together” for Holidays

Holidays are undoubtedly built on family traditions. With Easter just passing, and Mother’s and Father’s Day on the way, it’s hard to imagine not being with family members during these special occasions. And with no real timeline to the pandemic, it’s impossible to predict if it will impact future holidays, too.

While you aren’t able to sit around the dinner table or exchange gifts in person, technology gives us the ability to still celebrate holidays with family, near or far.

Utilize a system like Zoom, Skype or Facetime and set a specific time for family members to meet on the holiday. These technologies are very user friendly, so don’t be intimidated! Or, have someone tech-savvy in your family set it up.

Consider meeting at the same time you would have in-person, and share your favorite memories from the past years on that holiday.



2. Share the Same Meals

For many of us, nothing brings a family together quite like food.

Do you have spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday with your extended family? Or do you do Fish Fridays at the same place every week? Consider following the same recipe as your extended family or order takeout from your favorite local restaurant, just like you would have without social distancing.

You could even take it a step further and share the meal virtually with those you would have met up with.


3. Get Creative and Celebrate—From a Safe Distance

The current pandemic has impacted just about every facet of our “normal” lives. But what it hasn’t done is cancel days of significance like birthdays or anniversaries—the days we would usually spend with family.

While we can’t physically give our loved ones a hug or stop by to say, “happy birthday,” we can find creative ways to celebrate family.

  • Plan a car parade. Decorate your car with signs and balloons, and parade past your loved one’s home. Ask family members and friends to join in from their cars to practice safe social distancing.
  • Decorate their yard. Whether it’s for a birthday or another special day, create signs, put them on stakes and then decorate your loved one’s yard. Give them a surprise phone call to look outside, then watch their reaction from the window.
  • Visit a special location and send pictures. If there’s a special location you and your family usually visit for a special day (e.g. a restaurant, a lost loved one’s final resting place, etc.), plan a visit and take pictures. While you can’t go inside many public places right now, take a picture outside, and either send digital or mail physical copies to each of your family members to enjoy.


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Topics: Encouragement

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