Home For the Holidays: Celebrating Them Safely During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Katrina Tablang

Families continue to decorate their houses and yards for Halloween, despite a lack of trick-or-treaters.

With the arrival of the fall comes the first wave of holiday excitement. During this festive time, people all over America begin planning their upcoming celebrations for their annual festivities. However, this year’s celebrations, in particular, will look vastly different from those of years past, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. During a time when people are isolated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bringing people together has become more challenging. 

Preparation for the holidays involves a variety of different activities, depending on the person or family. “The holiday season is usually packed with shopping, since there are great deals and school holidays,” said Eyenain Misgar ’23.

Others observe traditions specific to a particular religion. The holidays for Sydney Siskind ’23 are always a busy time because her family celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. “On my mother’s side, we celebrate Christmas there, and we do the normal Christmas things like putting presents under the tree and listening to Christmas music. Then we go to my grandparents on my dad’s side and celebrate our own little Hanukkah…with the lighting of the menorah and the eating of traditional foods,” said Siskind. The holiday season often hinges on large social gatherings, which are strongly discouraged this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, due to the ongoing pandemic. 

The CDC has recently updated their tips for safely celebrating the holidays this year. Most of the advice is fairly straightforward — keep gatherings in areas with good ventilation (outdoors if at all possible) and remain vigilant about social distancing for the duration of the gathering, wear a mask whenever possible, try not to travel, and wash your hands often. None of these are new concepts and all have been reiterated as preventative measures from the beginning of the pandemic. However, these guidelines are especially important to follow during the holiday season, since it also happens to coincide with cold and flu season. With the risk higher than ever, people will need to be even more cautious to prevent a spike in the number of infected individuals. 

Working around these limitations seems like a daunting task, and for many, it simply is not worth the health risk. Many holiday plans have unfortunately been canceled in light of the pandemic’s trajectory. “Typically, my mom and I will visit her family in South Carolina and celebrate Hanukkah, but now I’m not sure that my mom and I will be able to see family over winter break,” said Mollie Ehrenberg ’23. Siskind shared a similar sentiment on the matter. “We might not go to Florida this year, or we might only go to one set of grandparents so that we don’t spread germs or get/give anyone the Coronavirus,” she said. 

The year has been undoubtedly difficult for everyone, and few can say they have not been affected in some way by the current circumstances. People are searching for a light at the end of the tunnel. Now, more than ever, the world needs the relaxation and relief associated with the holidays. Ultimately, the outcome of this time will be determined by the course of action that we choose to take in the coming weeks, along with the mindset that we maintain while doing so. 

It is time to get creative. Our realities are rapidly changing, but there are still aspects of it that we can control. Maybe take up a hobby or attempt a DIY. Try shopping online instead of in-person. Take the initiative and reach out via Zoom to that friend whom you usually only ever see once a year. There are many viable alternatives that do not involve endangering everyone’s safety but still allow for some holiday fun. 

In a world where people have the internet at their fingertips, it is now so much easier to reach out to other people. Though the holidays are one of the most common times for people to start thinking about these connections, it is important to remember these connections still exist year-round. So even if this year’s festivities do not go according to your original plan, you can find solace in the fact that there are hundreds of other days just waiting to be filled with joy.

Ultimately, the outcome of this time will be determined by the course of action that we choose to take in the coming weeks, along with the mindset that we maintain while doing so. 

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