From the general consensus that I’ve gathered on the internet – a lot of us are struggling right now. We’re tired from the election/news cycle, we’re missing our family and friends, we feel daunted by the thought of renewed Covid-19 restrictions (my dear friend in Minnesota just went into full lockdown again in their town), we’re sad that the holidays won’t look like normal this year. I get it. And I feel all of it too.

My family just made the tough decision not to gather for Thanksgiving this year – a first for us all aside from the year that Adam and I were in LA. My brother in law traveled recently so he needs to quarantine, my niece and nephew are still in daycare, Adam still works in the office – so even to have just my immediate family together (3 different households) would put my parents at risk who are in regular contact out of necessity with my two grandparents, both in their 90s. A meal together just didn’t feel worth the risk.

Which means Adam and I will celebrate here in the city for the first time. Since I wasn’t about to attempt to cook a full turkey dinner in our small kitchen, we ordered a multi-course meal from a favorite local restaurant (Friend of A Farmer) to-go. It feels like a great way to support a local business and also get something that still feels special. In a situation that felt like sort of a bummer, I’m now really looking forward to a small, quiet holiday – just the two of us.

It’s that approach of focusing on simple joys that I’m trying to take to heart for the whole rest of this uncertain season. I’m talking Little Women-era basics at this point. The things that you’re otherwise always too busy to slow down and really revel in. Things that feel cozy and content. Here are a few of the simple joys I plan on indulging in this season.

  • Pick up a holiday scented candle (this one is a favorite) and string some lights. Now that it gets dark early I find the warm glow so comforting in the evening.
  • Treat yourself to a new flavor of tea or coffee to make at home. I’ve been loving a cup of peppermint tea in the evenings while I read.
  • Take a long, hot bath – extra bubbles too.
  • Handwrite letters (or holiday cards!) to friends and family that you might not get to see in person this season. Mail like that really makes people’s day.
  • Bake something – even if it’s out of a box. We just got a gingerbread mix from Trader Joe’s I’m excited to try. I love when the whole apartment smells like something fresh out of the oven.
  • Devour a new show – I mentioned on IG stories but The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix is incredible and I’m planning to dive into the latest season of The Crown today (Princess Diana here I come!) – or have a holiday movie marathon. Love Actually is always my favorite.
  • Play an old-fashioned board game. We bought Scrabble last year and it’s one of our favorite at-home date nights. We usually mix up a cocktail and put on our favorite records too. Finding an online game to play with a friend could be great too though!
  • Speaking of cocktails – is there anything a homemade hot toddy can’t solve? If whiskey’s not your thing – substitute a hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.
  • Pick up a new book and get lost in it for an afternoon. I’m currently reading Royal Holiday which is super sweet. And I plan on sharing a whole round-up of other cute holiday-themed books soon!

Sometimes simple joys are the best kind.

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