The holiday season is coming up fast and furious, but this year won’t be like others. Out of town family won’t be able to join us as easily. The busiest travel day of the year will be much quieter at the airports. Even picking up our ingredients from the grocery store won’t be nearly as simple. For many families, this time of year is steeped in tradition, and traditions are very hard to change.

Kids anchor on rituals and traditions. For kids, time is an endless loop that compresses and stretches based on events, emotions, and experiences. My 5-year-old recently celebrated her birthday, and, two weeks after, she was busy picking out what color candle would be on her cake for her next birthday.

When I explained that a year is a long time, she responded, “Is a year longer than Coronavirus times?” What an important reminder for us adults: COVID-19 will eventually abate, but the events that happen during this pandemic will form the core of who our young kids are and will become.

As I begin to visualize the upcoming months, I’m finding myself looking for ways to keep things simple, but also festive. In that light, here are a few ideas that I am bouncing around in my head as we approach Thanksgiving:

Stories looking back are just as important as stories looking forward.

  • Read children’s books by Native American authors (We love Kamik: An Inuit Puppy Story, and there are so many other great books.)

  • Let’s learn about the practice of land acknowledgments as a family and do the research to learn more about the Indigenous People on whose land we live

  • Share the story of your own family’s identity and history. You can discuss it, draw it in pictures, write it in poetry form or use music…whatever works for your story.

Gratitude makes life happier.

  • Find ways to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life with your family. Maybe there is a gratitude jar in the kitchen that kids can put a note in at breakfast time or a nightly gratitude journal that you draw or write in with your child at bedtime.

  • Create a gratitude ritual that allows kids to share and discuss gratitude with others.

  • Make a gratitude mural with your family on butcher paper, drawing events, people, and ideas from the past year

Silly fun is a great way to let go of what is not possible and embrace the new.

  • Can your family create a “Great Debate” where each person is in charge of championing their favorite food from your holiday meal?

  • A holiday table decorating competition where each person decorates their place setting to help express a common them.

Our holidays may be different this year, but I wish you amazing experiences that make them bright and joyous.

This post originally appeared on Piedmont Post.