Thanksgiving has traditionally been the holiday that my entire family gathers together. Not this year.

With CDC guidelines encouraging people to avoid travel and large gatherings, we’re about to find out what small or solitary holidays look like. Of course, everyone has missed celebrations this year. Virtual weddings, birthdays and graduations took the place of in-person gatherings. The coronavirus pandemic has shaped and changed our lives.

No wonder mental health professionals are concerned.

If states separate you and your family, you may need to look for ways to feel connected to others this holiday season. One of the best ways to spread cheer is to volunteer. Particularly this year, there are more opportunities than ever, both from a safe social distance in person or virtually.

Deliver food to an elderly person who may not be able to get to the store due to the pandemic. Or call someone who is alone and in need of some company. 

I’m going to suggest a FaceTime champagne toast with my clan. Even if the call freezes, we can send a selfie – holding our holiday beverages – in a group chat. The photos will make us grin and create new positive holiday memories.

This year, we need the holiday spirit more than ever.

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of Anchored Together.