2. Exemption cards and letters
September 14, 2021
Ūpoko: He ingoa hōu me te mahi nui kē noa atu!
May 19, 2022

We all want a Christmas season where we connect with loved ones and aim for a fun, festive and inclusive holiday. So how do we achieve this while also making it as safe as possible?

If you meet together

  • I’ve often heard people say, ‘what can a mask or hand washing really do?’ and in some ways they’re right, on their own they are not a complete defence system. That’s why I have found the following “Swiss cheese” model by virologist Ian Mackay, of infection prevention helpful. Each layer of prevention has holes. But line up a bunch of layers together and you have yourself a better barrier.

When meeting up these Christmas holidays aim to use as many of these layers as possible. To achieve this, we recommend discussing beforehand and agreeing upon the ways that those attending Christmas day celebrations will interact with each other. If it isn’t discussed it is likely that protections some would like maintained will be ignored. For example, if one person decides they feel awkward wearing a mask so doesn’t put one back on after eating, then others are likely to follow suit. If it is discussed and agreed on beforehand this is less likely to happen. Don’t forget to discuss beforehand what to do if someone who is meant to be part of the occasion becomes sick on the day, even if its potentially just a cold.

Consider meeting apart

Many of our disabled community have lowered immunity so we may decide that it is necessary to stay within our bubble a while longer. Hopefully our friends and family can be understanding of this as with a bit of creativity it can still be an inclusive time. Here’s how:

Focus on what you CAN do

Whether you will be meeting together or apart, focus on the family Christmas routine and traditions that you normally do and are possible. Some of them might be second nature so you may need to think about what your traditions are. Even the smallest of things can help recreate our feelings of holiday Christmas cheer.

Create new traditions

For some traditions you’ll need to come up with ideas of how to continue them in a new way or create new ones. For example:

  • Check out local Facebook pages or ask friends who live locally to find out the location of the streets that are decked out with the best display of Christmas lights. Hop in the car with your immediate family and experience the magic as you do a drive-by
  • Work on a family activity together such as creating a decoration for extended family members, and then they make one for you
  • Focus on giving not just receiving.

Attending a Zoom Christmas is probably not what you hoped for, but it doesn’t mean it has to be boring. You could:

  • Eat the same type of meal together over Zoom so it is a shared experience
  • Set up a time to simultaneously decorate or light up your Christmas trees
  • Take turns hosting mini online celebrations. For example, one family could host a sing along, another a story, and the next a dance party
  • Create a game or a quiz that extended family members can join in
  • Opening presents doesn’t just have to be on one day. You could send small treats or handmade items to family and friends and watch them open them together online.

Prepare ahead

Put together a schedule of events for the Christmas holiday period and Christmas day. Whether in words and/or pictures, this will allow people to know the planned order as well as what the rules and expectations are around what can and cannot be carried out around other people. It could be pictures on a calendar, or a social story that you’ve tailored to fit your situation. Whatever visual supports you may use try to make it as personal as possible. For example, you could incorporate the use of photos from previous Christmas times.

Scale down

For some people Christmas can be a time of great stress, even without Covid in the mix. We may see significant behaviour changes and challenges at this time due to sensory overload and general feelings of being overwhelmed, schedule changes or the fact that we put Christmas decorations up around the house.

So, this year it could be a good time to keep it simple rather than trying to fit too much in around Christmas time. Most importantly let’s focus on connecting with each other while remaining safe.

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