holidays

Connecting Over the Holidays (While Staying Safe)

The holidays look a little… okay, A LOT… different this year. The pandemic has been changing our lives since last spring, and this is being felt acutely as we round into a season where we are accustomed to spending time with family and friends. Aphasia layers on additional communication barriers, making some of the common suggestions—such as a Zoom holiday meal—difficult to navigate.

We’ve rounded up some aphasia-friendly ways you can connect with loved ones over the holidays. Some are ideas we’ve been brewing here at the National Aphasia Association. Others are submissions for our upcoming “connecting during the holidays” chat. By the way, signup for that online chat is open until December 14. Click over (after you read this post) to join us.

Spread it Out

Communication can be tiring, and exhaustion can make finding words more difficult. Aphasia demands that people slow down and communicate thoughtfully—a nice silver lining to the normal hustle and bustle that marks this period. So let aphasia do what aphasia is going to do, and slow down with it.

Instead of trying to pack virtual visits into a single, long, chaotic call, spread out communication throughout the month. Celebrate the holidays virtually in tiny bursts. Make a single night of the week a time together for one, brief activity over a video call: caroling for ten minutes, unwrapping gifts for fifteen, lighting the Chanukkah candles together, or watching a favorite holiday movie.

You’ll get many smaller moments to look forward to throughout the month, and you won’t be exhausted from trying to do too much at once.

Connect Through Stories (and Food!)

This is the year to get creative. Maybe you can’t be together, but you can feel like you’re together by sharing stories. Put together a collection of family recipes, sharing them with immediate and extended family, so you can all cook the same dish on the same night. Make sure you include background information that will make the meal more meaningful, including who came up with the recipe, where it’s from, or cherished memories of eating it around a holiday table.

You can swap pictures with family members of your meals and see how much they look the same or different depending on the flourishes each person brings to the dish. Connect over the idea that while you’re apart, you’re all eating the same meal in your individual homes, and it’s a recipe that connects your family.

Learn Something New

Use the holidays to connect with another person and learn something new together. YouTube and other online video sites host how-to videos so you can teach yourself anything from artistic endeavors to salsa dancing. You can set up a schedule with another person, and check in regularly throughout the month, helping each other if you get stuck.

Travel With a Book

Miss the fact you can’t travel? Find books set in a place you want to go, and read them with another person. Or, choose a book set near where you live and where they live and use the two books to make you feel closer together. If reading is difficult, choose an audiobook and slow it down. Or, have a loved one read to you, a chapter at a time.

Invest in Technology

Some people on the chat are using seasonal sales to purchase new technology to support speech practice. One person is looking into gifting themselves with Lingraphica, and others are aiming for tablets or laptop computers to make communication over camera better.

Tell us the creative (and safe!) ways you’re connecting with others over the holidays.

Image: CarolynV via Unsplash

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