Quiet Joy: The Way to Salvage These Pandemic Holidays

Most of us are heading into a holiday season like none we’ve ever quite experienced.

With the pandemic still looming large, many of us aren’t traveling home to see our families (I’ll miss you sweet home Manitoba!) or embarking on the regular holiday shopping pilgrimages or attending big festive parties.

Maybe you’re really bummed out at not having a normal Hannukah/Christmas/Kwanzaa and feeling kind of lost. Maybe it’s tempting to just write off the holidays altogether this year.

But that, my friends, would be a big mistake.

We need joy and celebration to fuel us

I teach my coachees that it’s especially important in harder times not to abandon joy, because it’s a reminder of why this sometimes hard life is worth living. Also, joy and celebration create an expansiveness in us that makes it possible to work our way through the tough parts. 

The pagan winter solstice celebrations that Christmas actually grew out of were about celebrating light in the darkest time of the year. At a point where everything seemed so dark and dead, Winter Solstice (Dec. 21 this year) was the juncture when the days actually started getting longer again. They looked at it as the rebirth of the sun.

Even though the pagans knew there would be many very dark days ahead still, celebrating the light (and the dark) helped keep up their resilience.

Parallels anyone?

Most of us may feel pretty stuck in our situations right now…we are in literal lockdown. But we’re also super-lucky to know a vaccine is on its way. There will still probably be many dark days ahead and we’ll have to face the reality of that head-on, but let’s also drink in the light where we can.

The question is…how do we celebrate with all these limits?

This is where quiet joy comes in…

When I’m coaching someone who thinks they’re too sad or stressed or alone to cultivate joy, I tell them to start off with just some quiet joys. I’m not talking fireworks, champagne, and disco ball kind of joy, but one that gently welcomes warm, soothing, and enlivening elements into the little crevices of your life. Quiet joy is a commitment to doing something each day that you love and not because you “should” do it. It’s a space where you’re present enough for joy to sneak up on you in the little things. It’s a habit that makes celebration manageable by scattering bite-sized pieces of it throughout your regular routine.

What constitutes quiet joy, of course, is different from person to person, but let me get you started…

Ideas for Holiday Quiet Joy

  • Spend a whole evening with candles as your only light. There’s something about candlelight that soothes the soul.
  • Take a wander to look at holiday lights with a thermos of hot apple cider and rum. 😉
  • During a Zoom family gathering, have each person take a turn in sharing an appreciation they have for each fam member.
  • Choose a book you really want to read — not have to read — during the holidays.
  • Carols around an outdoor firepit (if you have enough layers on, you can withstand almost any winter temp for at least a short time)
  • Bake something low pressure but delicious-smelling.
  • Lie in the snow looking up at stars.
  • Commit to a daily snuggle under a big fluffy blanket (perhaps there’s a furkid, human kid, or partner you want to invite into the snuggle too?)
  • Do sunrise or sunset yoga near a window where you can really tune into the changing light through your practice.
  • Instead of worrying about the hassle of getting and decorating a huge tree, get yourself a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
  • Do up a batch of Kimberly’s Vegan ‘Bailey’s’ (recipe below!) with your fave holiday tunes playing… and lots of sampling. :p
  • A meditation outside (bundle up!) to welcome the Winter Solstice. 

I have a feeling next December we’re going to have more than our fair share of raucous merriment, but for now…CHERISH the idea of a different-paced holiday to shake things up a bit and maybe open the door to some precious quiet joy. 

Our New Undercover Exposé 

I was kept pretty busy the last month or so on our Animal Justice undercover exposé into Canada’s animal ag industry and the rise of frightening “ag gag” laws. Check out the short film I produced with narration from the lovely Jann Arden.

This was the last undercover investigation in Ontario to expose animal suffering to the public before the Ford government put its new ag gag law into effect last week. Alberta and PEI have also recently brought in ag gag laws, and Manitoba and Quebec are considering it as well. Please go to www.stopaggag.ca to make your voice heard. 

Word of the Year Grad Circles

We may not be able to do it in person, but our New Year’s tradition goes on! 

This intimate one-night workshop (10 people max) is moving online during pandemic times. Get ready for the same moving, fun, and powerful evening…but in your PJs! 😉

What quality is calling to you for 2021? Joy? Space? Courage? Sexy? Rest? Magic? Simplicity? Power? Soften? Adventure? Love? Let’s find out!


Kimberly’s Vegan ‘Bailey’s’ Recipe


Great for holiday gifts…or keep it all for yourself! I usually at least double the recipe and it gives me about a litre of liqueur that’s rich, got a good kick, AND is kind to animals! xo


  • 1 can coconut milk (**shake the can and make sure it’s liquidy, if the cream has solidified it won’t work well for this)
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs chocolate syrup (if you don’t have pre-made vegan chocolate syrup — ie. No Name’s chocolate syrup — combine equal parts water, cocoa, & sugar – boil and stir until it thickens a little)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾- 1 cup rye whiskey (ie. Canadian Club, Crown Royal, Wisers) or some folks like to use Irish Whiskey

Whisk it all together! Or, if you want to get real fancy and help assure you don’t get any coconut cream chunks, you could throw it all in a blender/food processor. Put in a bottle (tinted bottles like Canadian Club bottles are the best) and chill (and keep refrigerated). 

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I’m Kimberly and I’m a coach for changemakers. 

I help leaders, activists, healers, and mission-driven entrepreneurs who want to make a bigger difference in the world do the transformative inner work and build the high performance habits and strategies to make them unstoppable.

I’m also a passionate world citizen & a director with Animal Justice & Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank.

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