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Classic Christmas with a Virtual Twist
By Sharma Taylor
Christmas this year will be like no other. Rather than gathering around the dining table with relatives from abroad, dishing out tasty meals and family gossip at dinner time, many families in Barbados may spend it with only their immediate household. Barbadians living in European and North American countries that are reeling from financial restraints, newly imposed lockdowns and surges in COVID-19 cases may not be keen to come home for the holidays.
Many of us have had to get innovative under the constraints of a new normal and this holiday season may be our most challenging test yet. Even if this year’s celebrations look different, that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Here are 9 festive tips to make the holidays special and safe.
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1. Have traditional Christmas dinner in a new way.
Share recipes for dishes like Jug-Jug, great cake, sorrel and ham but challenge each family member or friend to put a unique twist (for example, substitute an ingredient or add something new). Share pics and videos of the variations on the dishes.
2.  Eat dinner together-apart.
Place your laptop, tablet or cell phone on the table as you eat, so that your relative can “be at your table” and you will be at theirs.  Dress up for the occasion to help make it festive.
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3. Join a Zoom call
Either at a relative’s Christmas church service or have your own service with family and friends all over the world and sing carols. After Christmas dinner, watch the same Christmas movie online and then talk about it. There are websites where you can even play games like Scrabble together virtually.
4 . Have competitions for the best decorated Christmas tree.
5. Send care packages.
There are a host of Barbadian goodies you can send to homesick relatives abroad such as pastries, chocolates, snacks, syrups, seasonings, pepper sauce, spices and rum. Click here for a list of great gift suggestions or contact your favourite Bajan businesses to curate a special basket for your loved ones. If you’re a Barbadian living abroad, send home a slice of the culture where you live too!
6. Don’t forget the homeless, elderly, shut-ins, sick and poor
To harness the Christmas spirit of giving, volunteer your time and other resources to persons in your community or charities that cater to the marginalised. You can serve others in a physically distant yet socially responsible way.
7. Consider those who live alone.
Social isolation is particularly hard on the lonely. They may not say it, but paying them a visit (masked up, of course) means a lot. You can even stay at the gate, or remain in your car and have a chat. Regular visits or welfare checks show you care.​
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8. Get the kids involved.
Children have had a hard year too -- the anxiety of watching adults worry, plus the adjustment to distance learning has kept them away from their friends and extracurricular activities. Ask them to come up with an idea for how they can spread Christmas cheer to others. They could create a card, drawing, poem or song which can be shared virtually. You can also suggest reading to an elderly person or sending their gently used toys to a children’s home or donating books to libraries.
9. Be Santa
You can shop for others online and arrange for curbside delivery or pick-up of groceries, gifts, gift baskets, and flowers. Support Barbadian entrepreneurs.

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