As I do every year around the holidays, I want to write about boundaries. This year has been different, but there are still some points I want to make.
In Canada, people are still expected to stay two metres apart when gathering. There are additional limitations on how many people can gather at one place at one time based on households. With fewer encounters together, there should hopefully be fewer circumstances of people embracing without consent or expecting children to hug others when they are uncomfortable.
That being said… it doesn’t mean via video chat, people cannot still cross boundaries.
It is not to be said that people cannot talk about things happening in their lives. Medical conditions, pregnancies, love lives, COVID hair. Even employment or nutritional plans. Just, allow that person to bring the subject up. If I want to talk about epilepsy, I’ll mention it. If someone wants to talk about their nutrition, they will mention it. If someone has started working out every day or running, it is their decision to bring it up in conversation.
Yes, this year has been different. It’s been different for everyone. Literally, it’s been a different experience for everyone in the world.
To support someone we love and are close to, it is compassionate to ask how they are doing. To let them know that someone is thinking about them, missing them, hoping they are healthy both physically and emotionally. I promise it is not so terrible to contact them outside a group conversation.
If it is someone that you only acknowledge infrequently or even just once a year, a question that really is as prevalent as “how have you been handling COVID and the isolation?” might actually be a very sensitive subject. If you want to discuss how everyone is doing in the circumstances, maybe start by suggesting how you have been experiencing it. Others can join in and provide their thoughts, if they choose too. Whether the time has been fantastic and productive or has been stimulating depression and conflict that is at their discretion to contribute. It’s about their choice to contribute or not.
Why is this particular topic such an issue?
I follow a number of other bloggers, and I see what people post on social media. I speak with friends and family. Some people discuss how having the time has meant they could learn new skills. Some people emphasize being at home with their children and how much closer they are. Others write about the conflicts developing within their romantic relationships or how they are unable to be apart from a class or community. I wouldn’t ask a complete stranger how they are handling the experience; why would I ask a relative I never interact with such a personal question?
Emotional boundaries are important.
This also goes both ways. You don’t have to answer any questions, but you don’t have to listen to things that are hurtful. I know a lot of people who read this blog are Canadian and we are stereotypically very polite in all circumstances (although if it’s related to hockey… another stereotype!). However, if I bring up in the holiday family video chat something about my potentially extreme feminist opinions, you are not obligated to listen to me. If I want to talk about how I’ve watched A Christmas Prince on Netflix a few dozen times, you don’t have to listen. If something comes up that makes you uncomfortable, the h*ll with being polite.
Make sure you feel safe and that you are enjoying yourself (isn’t that the point of getting together!?!). You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.
Although let’s be honest, A Christmas Prince is a pretty amazing movie. Easy to anticipate and amazing. There you have it. My opinion. Everyone is free to contact me directly so I can discuss it in further depth.