Learning to Celebrate at HomeOn April 30, 2020 by Calgary's Child
by Trista Arney
It’s now official – the 2020 Calgary Stampede will not be held this July. While this is a huge community event that many families in Calgary look forward to, it’s also another celebration that we won’t be celebrating together this year. Weddings, birthdays, community events, festivals, and more have had to be put off for now as we come together while staying apart to protect one another.
It is okay to be upset!
It is perfectly okay (and normal!) to be saddened by these cancellations and closures. It’s disappointing to have to miss big highlights of the year that you and your children were looking forward to.
We can know rationally that these cancellations are for the best and still grieve their loss. Allow yourself and your children that disappointment. Just because others have it worse or because we can always plan to do things later doesn’t mean you don’t get to be sad!
Talk to your family. Let every member in the family talk about their feelings around the closures, what they will miss, which parts of the celebrations were the most special for them. This is a time we can teach our children (and remind ourselves) how to be flexible. Recognize the emotions everyone is feeling, identify the parts of each celebration that were the most important to you, and see if you can make another plan.
Depending on the celebration you are missing, it’s totally possible to create alternative ways to celebrate! Be flexible and try to figure out the key elements of each celebration, big event or festival. Make a list of the highlights – if what you really look forward to about your local street festival every year is the food, that’s not hard to replicate at home (or order in) with some creativity!
(Deciding not to celebrate is also a totally valid plan! It might be more stressful and upsetting to not have the event just as you remember it and that’s okay, too!)
Here are a couple of examples from my own life and some ways I’m thinking about adapting them this year – with some creativity, I know you’ll think up your own ways to make the summer special!
For occasions like birthday parties, I think the best idea is to really talk it out with the birthday child. Identify what the core of the celebration is and what needs to happen to make them feel important. Maybe this year a simple homemade cake and a movie night can be just as special as a big party with an ordered-in cake.
If friends and family are a big part of your celebrations, getting together friends and family with video conferencing and phone calls can be a great option! If scheduling is a problem, video recorded messages can be really lovely keepsakes.
Consider delaying the birthday party itself until later – why not invite everyone over for an “Un-Birthday Party” once restrictions are lifted? You can always celebrate twice! My son is turning 7 and wants to have a “Zonk!” birthday (inspired by the show “Let’s Make a Deal”) where nothing is what it seems. We’ll hold on to that theme until we can get together and celebrate with friends.
For an event as huge as the Calgary Stampede, holding an alternative celebration seems daunting. Since the Stampede is a core part of our city’s identity, many families are really upset by the loss of this annual celebration.
I recommend talking it out with your family and seeing if there’s a way you can bring the Stampede spirit home to lift your mood. When I asked my son about his favorite part of Stampede, it was “the cowboy shows and dressing up.” For my husband it was midway food, and for me it was time together as a family (which we have no shortage of at the moment!
Bring Home the Rodeo
Did you know that you can watch videos of Stampede events on their Facebook page? On both the Calgary Stampede page and the Calgary Stampede Rodeo page there are loads of videos of various events and activities from previous years! While it won’t be quite the same as watching the action live, this could be an alternative if the rodeo events are what you love most. (You may want to preview content before loading them up for the kids.)
Another one of my favourite things to see at the Stampede is the award-winning Stampede Showband. This amazing group of young musicians is thrilling to see live! While we won’t be able to see them in person this July, you can view videos of performances on their official Facebook page as well.
As for the main stage performances, many recording artists the world over are bringing music into your home with life streaming events! CBC has a continuously updated list of Canadian live streams to watch, or search the web and you’ll be sure to find a concert to appeal to everyone in the family.
If the best part of the Stampede for you is trying your hand at the midway games, you can set up at home versions. For prizes you can always use small treats or coupons for special privileges or not having to do chores.
- Lucky Duck – Take rubber ducks or any kind of floating toy/object. Mark a couple Ducks as “winning” ducks (different colours if you have multiple prizes), take turn selecting a duck, if you select a winner you get a prize.
- Water Gun Shooting Gallery – Place small balls (plastic golf balls, ping pong balls, balls of aluminum foil, etc) balanced on the top of bottles, golf tees, or other containers. Aim the water gun at the balls to see how many you can knock down. Play for the fastest time, or the most balls knocked down in a certain time.
- Bottle Pyramid – Stack empty bottles of the same size, cans, or plastic cups into a pyramid shape. Use a softball or other ball to attempt to knock down the pyramid.
- Make a DIY Skeeball game following this tutorial!
- Set up a ring toss using any toy rings you have, or make rings from paper plates or left-over cardboard. Use empty bottles, empty cardboard tubes, or anything else you can find that you can throw a ring around as targets. For a tutorial for making your own rings try this tutorial!
Pancake breakfasts are a cornerstone of the Stampede experience, and easy to recreate at home! Have pancakes for breakfast or dinner – try them picnic-style in your front yard or living room to change things up!
Midway food is a core part of Stampede for many people – these are foods that we don’t generally eat at home! Thanks to many amusement parks around the world, there are many recipes for these fun treats available online! Here’s a small selection:
- Dole Whip
- Funnel Cake
- DIY Snow Cones
- Homemade Corn Dogs
- Walking Tacos aka Tacos in a Bag
- Baked Mini Doughnuts
- Deep Fried Cookies
- Strawberry Watermelon Slush
- For a taste of the Elbow River Camp, try this Bannock Recipe!
If you aren’t feeling up to trying to cook carnival treats at home, you can often find versions for sale in grocery stores – or check out local delivery options! Many Calgary eateries are still offering delivery on summertime treats, from BBQ to ice cream and – yes – even doughnuts! Check out YYCFoodTrucks.com to find out about their Drive-Thru Food Truck events and delivery options for an even more festive feel.
Probably the easiest part of the Stampede experience to re-create at home is the style! Let your kids dress up in their best cowboy outfits for neighbourhood walks. If your kids enjoy sidewalk or window art, try a Western theme.
No matter how you choose to make celebrations your own (or if you simply let them slide this year), remember to be gentle to yourself and your family if you find yourself feeling sad, angry, or disappointed – this is a hard year, and it’s okay to feel that way. Try to find moments of joy where you can and look forward to how wonderful it will be to be together again next summer!
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