Home for the Covid holidays

This year it’s going to be a very different Thanksgiving for everyone. Having trudged through the past eight to nine months of the pandemic with no end in sight, we are starting to navigate what Thanksgiving and the ensuing holidays will look like for all of us this year. Our Thanksgiving normally consists of five families, their children and now spouses and grandbabies making for a wonderful, 30-plus person holiday. This year a gathering of that size will be too large for us to celebrate safely. Although we are all sad that such a large gathering will not be possible, we are breaking into much smaller immediate family groups that I am sure will include a temperature check. (Should we add a Covid questionnaire?) These more intimate holidays will still be wonderful, just different.

If the past months have taught us anything it is that family and friends and their well-being are more important than ever and though distance may keep us apart we are closer than ever. Favorite traditions will be restructured and some will change. The important thing is to be open to these new twists. Some things will remain the same for us. I am still cooking our favorite dishes and desserts. Our table will still be set using plates and silverware handed down from family. There will still be flowers on my tables and pumpkins and gourds displayed both inside and out. There will be some sense of normalcy. This sense of normalcy helps to keep us together and helps ensure that our traditions will continue.

We are nesting more than ever. Our homes have become our refuge and many of us are spending all of our time there. Many families are leaving New York City and establishing their families in the burbs. Young families are looking for space for their children to have some room. Our homes have become our workspaces, our gym spaces, our places of remote learning. Everyone is starting to rethink how we are living in our homes and how we want to live in them — dividing our home into zones so we can gather together and also have some privacy for work and school. This pandemic is changing how we want to live in our homes. Open concept layouts in both home and offices are changing back to more specific divisions of space. Home offices now require space for more than one worker. We are looking to carve out space where our children can set up for schoolwork.

No one wants to be jammed into one area of our homes. As much as it is often fun to hang out together and watch a movie or play games together, we are also finding we need privacy with everyone being home 24/7. Business calls and Zoom meetings require concentration, and having kids and pets in the background is distracting. The trend of having a desk area in the kitchen is over. Take that space and create a pantry, which is more useful especially since we are all cooking at home and need to put those extra ingredients somewhere.

Built-in desk areas for homework in a separate quiet part of the house are becoming essential. Consider creating a workspace in a room above the garage or converting an area of a finished basement into an office that can provide a quiet area to concentrate.

If you have a separate formal living room, use it, perhaps converting that space into a more casual, second family room. Add a TV so your family can have choices about where and what they want to watch. Or maybe you want that room to remain a quieter reading area or a place for conversation. Use all the rooms in your home and make them flexible to fill your needs. To ensure your home stays tidy with everyone living in such close quarters, provide lots of storage, either with built-in cabinetry or with furniture that has plenty of storage space in it. Uncluttering your space allows for calmness within a boisterous family.

As the holidays draw closer and some of our traditions change, remember to embrace the new ones we are creating. They may become part of our traditions, too. Appreciate all that we have and reflect on all that we are thankful for. My best wishes for a Happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.

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