As far as traditions go, our lives before COVID-19 were pretty much handed to us like the Olympic torch. We did things the way they’d always been done, albeit propelled by marketing engines that made sure everything became bigger and “better” over time.

Nowhere is this more visible, perhaps, than during the holiday season. Come November, most of us become consumed by the expectations placed on us around gift-giving, socializing, and entertaining. And because we rarely had the opportunity to question those expectations, much less alter them, they became the obligations we placed on ourselves.

Much of this changed last year, when we needed to downscale the holiday celebrations for obvious reasons. Despite the circumstances, some relished the freedom and peace of mind that came with it. Being forced to take a year off from running around from mall to mall like a headless chicken, or hopping from party to party, turned out to not be so terrible after all.