Christmas traditions changing for 2020

Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 10:06 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Kaydence and her little sister, Grace, share a love for art projects. Grace is a playful, talkative two-year-old but far from average. Last year she had a heart transplant.

“She is considered high risk because she’s immunocompromised,” Grace’s mom explains. “Her heart is great, but we just don’t know what the virus would do.”

Grace’s mom, Laura Venneman, says it was best for Grace to stay home as much as possible even before the pandemic. This year, Laura says skipping large family gatherings is worth it to keep everyone healthy.

“I don’t feel like we’re really missing out. I mean because we’re together we’re here and I mean I don’t feel like we’re losing anything by staying home and being together,” she says.

Laura says she wants everyone else to feel the same way.

“I wish that just for a little bit, that they would realize what they’re not giving up. Like, they have their family. Most people have their families still. And it’s simple thing to stay home really, it is. And if you had a child who is this way. You would think differently. I just want to scream at the top of my lungs. Just wear a mask,” she says.

Dr. Larry Mitnaul is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Ascension Via Christi and a medical expert volunteer with the American Heart Association. He uses his YouTube channel to help parents navigate topics like COVID-19 and the holidays.

“So now we have an opportunity to start something that may be a new tradition for us or at least something that we can use as a substitute tradition for what we can typically do,” Dr. Mitnaul says.

Coming up with new plans can be an exciting thing to do together.

“Let the kids, you know lead, because they might often give us better ideas than we would come up for them,” Dr. Mitnaul says.

Grace’s family is already making plans, and Laura is keeping a positive attitude.

“She very much has noticed the lights and everybody’s getting put up so much earlier this year. So I mean, I’m sure there’ll be multiple trips driving around looking at lights which is perfect because you’re in your own car,” Laura says.

Dr. Mitnaul says it’s ok to be frustrated with the changes, but then move forward.

“We don’t have to live there. We can acknowledge and then think about what can we do next to bring joy, and togetherness, in these seasons.”

Dr. Mitnaul says just because you can’t be with your family doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them. He suggests setting up phone calls or video calls with family members.

He also encourages families to begin and end each day by sharing what they’re grateful for, no matter how small those things are.

And it’s easier said than done, but he says parents shouldn’t worry about having the perfect holiday season. He says parents should remember they’re doing the best they can.

American Heart Association has a blog to give families advice and ideas for healthy living.

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