Bryan Spaulding, right, of Murphy's Tree Stand in Belfast, shows a Christmas tree to customers Sara and Will Pendleton of Northport on Saturday. Credit: Abigail Curtis / BDN

This holiday season is going to look different than years past. Instead of gathering with friends and family members from near and far to give gifts, sing songs and enjoy each other’s company, the pandemic has left most of us without many of the holiday traditions that we look forward to all year.

The holiday spirit is just as much about resilience as it is about merriment, though. Here is how you can handle some of the holiday challenges presented by the pandemic this year.

You can’t go home for the holidays

If you live far from home, it is probably not the best idea to travel and go home for Christmas. Though Mainers mostly stayed home for Thanksgiving, most Americans did not, and the resulting post-Thanksgiving boom in cases was a reminder that large family gatherings are a key spreader of the coronavirus. However, there are steps you can take to make your holiday celebration special this year despite the distance. Take a page from the ways people made Thanksgiving special this year and apply those tips to your holiday celebrations this winter.

And, if you’re struggling with your mental health as a result of the isolation, don’t be afraid to ask for help — or, to treat yourself. Here are some gifts you can get yourself to help ease the emotional burden.

You can’t find a tree

Choosing, cutting down and decorating a Christmas tree is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. However, this year might present challenges in terms of finding a Christmas tree. Some Christmas tree farms in Maine are already closed, and as people are celebrating solo for safety’s sake, demand for Christmas trees is high.

If you can’t find a Christmas tree, perhaps you should consider an alternative to the traditional Christmas “trees,” like a potted houseplant or even a shrubby rosemary plant that you can decorate with baubles while having fresh fronds available for your holiday dinner. Or, consider an artificial Christmas tree instead of a natural one. There are some advantages to doing artificial Christmas trees, anyway, such as the comparative lack of allergens and the reusability of artificial trees that will lead to cost savings.

You can’t go caroling

Caroling is a time-honored holiday tradition. Unfortunately, singing is one of the best ways to spread airborne particles even further than, say, by talking, so this year with the coronavirus, caroling is a little riskier than usual. Consider preparing a virtual singing telegram with your church group instead to distribute to friends, family and neighbors via email, or host a Zoom caroling event with your loved ones. Or, if you simply must take to the streets in song, mask up and find other ways to make merry noises, like jingling bells.

You can’t go to church

For many people, attending a sermon for Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever communal religious celebration you may partake in are an essential part of the holidays. This year, many of those religious gatherings are cancelled or limited in attendance in accordance with the governor’s rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (and with good reason, as there have been outbreaks linked to churches in Maine). Check to see if your local religious institution is streaming their holiday services online, or if they are hosting a socially distanced car service as some churches have chosen to do over this past year.

Just because this holiday season will be different doesn’t mean it can’t still be merry and bright. With a good spirit and some adjustments, you can keep your holiday season safe and special this year.

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