Canceled holiday traditions because of COVID causes grief

To nourish our well-being, it has never been more essential to put effort into make this season special.

  • Wednesday, December 9, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

At this time last year, my spouse and I were planning our big holiday surprise for our family … the news that we were pregnant. Our baby would be the first grandchild on either side, a grandchild that my mother has been requesting for many years.

One year later, and our world could not look more different from the holiday season of 2019. I had no clue that my child would spend their first Christmas away from relatives or that by five months of age, my child would have only met around 10% of their family.

Alas, I am one among countless others that have celebrated major milestones this year. And now, with the holidays upon us, we are all experiencing alterations to our usual seasonal celebrations. For many of us, canceled holiday traditions brings loss and grief. To nourish our well-being, I believe it has never been more essential to put effort into making this holiday season special.

For our household, this was not the year to skip decorations. As each strand of lights went up around our home, my spirit felt equally illuminated. In years past, we have scaled back our Christmas shopping. For 2020, it has felt more nourishing to support local businesses and do more gift buying than usual. As the base of our tree glistens with shiny little presents, things feel festive. We have filled our weekends with holiday crafting in lieu of holiday parties and our garlands and gingerbread houses bring precious memories all the same.

This year, despite the strangeness of these times, I have been contemplating what traditions I want my child to remember from the holidays. I want to be deliberate in creating certain sights, smells and sounds that create nostalgia for them each year. Growing up, delicious cooking was always a centerpiece of the holidays. And today, the yummy smells from the kitchen have the potential to make our social isolation just a little more tolerable.

For the past six weeks, I have been keeping a batch of homemade chai tea brewing in our crockpot. This has filled our home with fragrant aromas of cinnamon, cloves and ginger. And it has also meant that we have a perfectly warm beverage ready at all times. In the hopes that it might create more comfort for you during these dark months ahead, here is the gift of my homemade chai tea recipe.

I hope that you and your family have the opportunity to create memories that you can cherish for years to come. Happy holidays.

Homemade chai tea

1 heaping tablespoon cardamom

1 heaping tablespoon ginger root

1 heaping teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon whole allspice

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

2 star anise pods

4 cinnamon sticks

20 cups of water

Grind spices in a mortar and pestle (or some alternative way to gently mash the spices). Place the spices in a disposable tea bag (or use a strainer when you pour cups of tea). Cook on high in a crockpot for 4 hours and then switch to warm thereafter. The tea will get stronger and more delicious as it steeps over 1-2 days. Remove the bags of spices when desired, or as you strain out cups of tea.

Dr. Lauren Gresham is a naturopathic physician and a community health education specialist. She holds a master’s degree in public health. Learn more about her by visiting

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