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With all of its positives, winter can be a difficult season, both emotionally and physically. This year is especially heavy as it has brought its own set of challenges on a universal scale, meaning that many of us have had to find new ways of embracing the holidays during the pandemic. Under COVID-19 induced gathering restrictions and precautions, celebrations may look different as uncertainty hangs in the air but we believe that there are ways to appreciate and enjoy this holiday season with open arms and a sensitivity to these ever-changing times.
With yourself, first and foremost. December brings snowfall, and it brings days that are as dark as they are slow, leaving space for reflection on the past year. It can be tough to face what you are feeling but there is great importance in carving out the space to sit down with yourself and move through what is on your mind and in your heart. As the pandemic began to unfold in Toronto, we were lucky enough to sit down with Kate Love, co-founder of Seeking Ceremony, a growing platform that encourages ceremony as a way to access emotion, process feelings and connect with our communities. She left us with so many nuggets of wisdom, including guidelines for implementing ritual in your daily life. The conversation has stuck with us as we continue to wade through another wave of COVID-19 cases. I remain curious about the same questions: “How are you processing this time? When was the last time you checked-in with yourself? What does it look like to grieve, spark joy, or imagine the future during this time of uncertainty?” Moving through these meditations on a daily basis has been a way of grounding myself in the present moment. Taking care of yourself also looks like meeting the needs of the physical body, taking the necessary precautions for optimal health and slowing down when necessary.
Taking care of yourself is a path to taking care of those around you. Gratitude flows easily from a full cup. Once you commit to an introspective practice such as journaling, meditation, intentional conversation or anything else that allows you to take a meaningful pause, you may find yourself at a place where you can focus on giving back to your community with your time, energy, and care. This season, we’ve been emphasizing the power of a letter of appreciation. It is beautiful to watch people connect virtually but there is something so special about sitting down to pour your heart onto the page for another person.
Another path you can take to deepen your distanced relationships is to engage in a shared activity. How about a doorstep baked goods exchange? Pour your love into something homemade and organize a safe drop off with your neighbours. For more sustained connection, go the extra mile and coordinate a holiday book club. This could be an especially touching exercise for those living in more isolated settings. It is a difficult time for those of us who are adapting to distance but with intention, there are ways to bridge the gap and meet in spaces of shared joy and reflection.
CREATE NEW TRADITIONS
This is a time of newness. New ways of living, new ways of connecting, and new ways of cherishing the holiday season. Lean into change, form new traditions or rekindle old ones to stay positive this month! A tangible way to put this into practice is by upcycling! Upcycling refers to the process of creatively reusing old products and materials into something new. Its environmental benefits have made it a popular practice in varying industries and you can bring it into the comfort of your own home. Gather your roommates, your partner, your little ones and your siblings for an afternoon of transforming knick-knacks and objects that were previously lying around your home into decorations for your Christmas tree or for your home to help create a seasonal atmosphere.
You can also enjoy this fun and inexpensive activity while getting some fresh air. When done with care and reverence, foraging outdoors is another way to re-energize your space with treasures that you can gather right outside your door. Experiment with pinecones, driftwood, and dried fruit to create a cosy, dreamy space to enjoy your holiday season in.
Still craving some time outside? Brave the chilly weather, grab a pair of ice skates and visit the outdoor rink closest to you! It’s a great way to create new memories for the season and feel embraced by its most beautiful aspects: the twinkly lights lining the rink, the smiling faces whizzing by you and the occasional slip that often results in laughter and smiles. As of now, ice rinks are currently accepting appointments for safe outdoor fun here.
One of my favourite holiday traditions is a simple stroll through my favourite Toronto neighbourhoods. It is heart-warming to see Christmas lights twinkle at night while nursing a thermos of my favourite warm beverage. This is an activity that you can share with people in your COVID-19 social bubble as you keep warm with winter layers and stay safe with masks, as well. It helps remind me of the power in communities coming together to share beauty and relate to one another through the simple things.
GIVE BACK AND SUPPORT LOCAL
This season, experience warmth by giving back and supporting local. It is a tough time for the individuals that work hard behind the scenes of your favourite small business. As we revert back to curbside pick-up and continue with safe and socially distanced shopping, your support goes a long way.
Even more so, giving back to those in need during this cold and isolating time can be so important. Temperatures are dropping below freezing and there are so many unhoused people who need the support of their community. Keep your eyes on incredible grassroots organizations such as the Encampment Support Network for opportunities to directly support their efforts to support those who are living outside.
Food insecurity also remains a major issue in the city. We are grateful to those who supported our recent Give Back Friday event in support of Food Banks Canada, a national charitable organization dedicated to helping Canadians living with food insecurity. We continue to uplift this organization for this necessary work and encourage you to look into ways that you can support them in their mission to relieve hunger at a community level.
We're currently raising money for two other local charities Sistering and Red Door Family Shelter with the purchase of raffle tickets. Each ticket is a chance to win 1 of 4 $100 Scout gift cards. Purchase tickets here.
While this can be a difficult season, it is also a time that illuminates the importance in caring for one another and investing in the wellness of ourselves and our own community. It is a great time to remind your little ones and loved ones through intentional words and actions that now more than ever, togetherness is vital in so many ways. Little could prepare any of us for such an unprecedented year but at the end of the day, our hearts remain full as we witness your continued community care and support. We are thinking of you all and are grateful for the time we spend with our community whether it be in-person or through the digital space. Until next time, we hope this holiday season brings waves of comfort and ease.
How are you celebrating this holiday season? We would love to hear from you in the comments about any new traditions you are welcoming and how you are staying connected with your community.
If you are looking to fulfill your Christmas shopping list with Scout, we encourage you to browse our Holiday section online or reach out by email with requests or concerns, and we’ll happily help you out as best as we can. Orders are being carefully packaged and sent out as fast as possible so make sure your list is checked off as soon as possible so that we can guarantee that you recieve your Scout-related holiday needs in a safe and timely manner.