Staying Connected This Holiday Season

By Alene Brennan

The holiday season is often filled with traditions that we look forward to all year long.

There are two moments that I look forward to most each year. Thanksgiving dinner with my extended family where we gather to enjoy good food and laughter together. It’s all about the relationships.

I also love the candlelit Christmas Eve church service that provides such a special feeling inside. Being surrounded with everyone in their holiday attire, the lit Christmas tree and hearing the Christmas hymns, is powerful.

Knowing the holidays have a much different feel this year due to the pandemic, I’m struggling to discover how I can create that same sense of connection and joy. Anticipating it makes a big difference though and enabling me to plan a different way.

I’ve made the decision that I will be celebrating Thanksgiving at home with my husband and not attending the extended family dinner, because I don’t feel comfortable for the potential exposure to health risks.

That said, we’ve decided to coordinate a family zoom chat. It’s not perfect but it’s still seeing the faces and voices of the people I love most. I know the call will be filled with laughter and that in and of itself helps to fill my cup.

For Christmas Eve service, I’m still thinking through an alternative for this but I’m hoping that the church will stream the service online and perhaps I get candles for us create a similar environment.

Outside of that, I plan on reaching out to some family and friends to schedule some smaller holiday gatherings. I’m hoping that this has the potential to find even greater connections.

I think it comes down to our intentions to reach out and create these opportunities. Without this intention the time can pass quickly, and we can find ourselves isolated and lonely during the holidays, which doesn’t feel good emotional, nor does it support our physical health.

So, I would invite us all to discover how we can be the initiators to building connections this holiday season.

There are even countless groups to connect with online via social media. You want to be selective to explore the tone of each group and ensure that it’s uplifting and supportive.

Who can you reach out to today to plan a holiday connection? If you’re looking for an opportunity, I am hosting a free online holiday cooking class for the MS community on how to make the holidays both healthy and delicious.

Regardless what your connection point is, always remember that your presence is a gift to others as well. Your steps to stay connected this holiday season, could be the one thing that helps someone in your community that needed support. This need is greater than us individually.

We are all a gift to one another.

*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

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