Strengthening Relationships Within Your Pandemic Bubble

As the holidays approach, many wonder how to make them special and meaningful given the pandemic restrictions on our ability to travel and gather together. It’s a new world, and we’re making up how we respond to it as we go along. Here are some ideas to help make this holiday season (and beyond) the best it can be with the people in your household bubble.

Get Creative Together By Brainstorming

What holiday traditions do you want to maintain, and are you able to do them this year? Think about the special foods, gifts, religious or spiritual services, or other rituals you usually do. Is there a way to give to those who are less fortunate?

Plan a meeting with all your household members for a brainstorming session. If you have children at home, include them. This is a great way for kids to contribute to the family experience and feel empowered to impact their world. Go over the ground rules of brainstorming: there are no dumb ideas, don’t criticize ideas, build on ideas, quantity over quality of ideas, the more creative the ideas, the better. Answers to how you will celebrate the holidays this year may arise during the brainstorming, or they may pop up after the lively discussion.

Gather in a Variety of Ways

People often think that it’s either A or B, yet in many circumstances, both A and B can be accommodated. You don’t have to limit yourself just to Zoom parties with relatives or friends, social distanced in-person visits with others, or time with only the people in your bubble. You can do it all! To facilitate more intimate discussions over Zoom, make separate calls or create breakout rooms within a larger call for just the cousins to chat or just for the adults. Perhaps there’s time for each child to visit alone with their grandparents. Many combinations are possible here. Remember to be cautious about bringing up volatile subjects such as politics in a group discussion.

Get Real with Each Other

Being open and honest deepens connection. Come together either within your household or over Zoom and give each participant a chance to pick a question and a minute to answer it. The role of the speaker is to share their own experience as vulnerably and transparently as they can. Everyone else listens to them with full attention, curiosity and respect. Here are a few possible questions:

  1. What is the best part of sheltering-in-place for you? The worst part? Elaborate on why.
  2. What do you miss the most about the pre-pandemic world? Is there a way you could create some form of that experience for yourself now?
  3. Share an appreciation of someone in your bubble. Be as specific as possible. Is there something they’ve said or done that has helped you?
  4. What are your dreams for the future? Speak about your own experience and be as specific as possible.
Take Turns Being the Event Planner

Each person in your bubble should be given a chance to take the reins and engage the group in an activity. Maybe it’s dancing, singing, playing music or making art. Maybe it’s a mini-talent show or stand-up comedy show. Maybe it’s playing a game together. Everyone can take a turn to lead, and the others are encouraged to participate. If your bubble is just you and your romantic partner, you can get steamy with your ideas!

Remembering Loved Ones

If there have been losses in your family recently or even from long ago, create a healing and honoring experience. You might light a candle, sit in a circle and give each person some time to share their memories, wishes, longings and feelings. Listen to each person and give them your full attention and care.

By Michele Fabrega