The Christmas season always brings joy along with inevitable tensions. The Christmas of 2020 will provide more strains than usual. There is no way to escape the 2020 Covid-Christmas challenges. So many things about the season have changed in light of this worldwide pandemic. Many churches are closed, parades and parties canceled and trips altered. Businesses have closed or have changed the way they operate. Hospitals are full, and the news is depressing.

No one wants Christmas to be a complete bust. Adding the tensions of a pandemic to other family dynamics can create the perfect storm. If you know what some of the stresses are, it may allow you to manage them better. Christmas can be a more joyful time, even in the middle of Covid, if we take the time to work through the issues at hand. Here are a few of the tensions families are dealing with this season.

Do We Gather?

There is plenty of guidance encouraging people to limit their gatherings during the Christmas season. Limited numbers of people are allowed in stores. Restaurants have limited capacity. Some churches are not having in-person meetings, while others are with some safety protocols. Families are encouraged not to gather with people outside their household. 

Christmas is one of the most common times of the year for people to be in large groups. Stores usually are full of crowds, churches packed, and restaurants are bustling. Families are traveling great distances to spend time with one another. Now there are choices to make. Do we avoid these gatherings altogether? Should we worship in the church building during Advent? Do we see our children or our parents? Is there a better way to accomplish this? Are we irresponsible if we do? Gathering with your loved ones is one of the most joyful pieces of Christmas. When gathering is in question, tensions quickly arise. 

Who Do We Gather With?

Let’s assume that you are determined to get together with some people, even if not with everyone you would typically include. Who will that be? There are people most of us feel safe with, but we are making assumptions when we do. We are assuming they are not infected or that we will not get infected if we gather. Who is in and who is out presents choices that few people want to make. People’s feelings get hurt very quickly. People make assumptions, whether accurate or not. There is virtually no way to avoid hurt feelings when some people are left out. If you are choosing some and not others, know there is going to be significant tension. 

Are Needs Different This Year?

This is a question that could fill an entire blog. We spend lots of money on Christmas buying lots of things that no one needs. For the most part, if we need it, we get it when we need it. Christmas gifts are usually bonuses. This year, needs may be different. Maybe one of the most important things we can do is spend our money with local merchants. If children are remote learning, the gift they need might be assisting one day per week with school activities. A family member may need financial assistance or some tools for remote work. With all of the isolation, they may just need your company, which takes us back to the tensions mentioned above. There has never been a year where being aware of the needs around us is more important. 

I hope this Christmas season brings joy to you and your family. There is no way to avoid some of these tensions, but we can work through them to make the season better and more enjoyable if we are aware. Merry Christmas. 


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