By Anushka Rajmohan
As is the case with most occasions this year, the holiday season has also taken a considerable hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic still taking lives every day, Americans have been asked to spend their 2020 holidays remotely and safely in their homes. Due to this strange holiday season, people have been forced to get creative on how to enjoy the holidays even with these restrictions and spend time with their loved ones.
Thanksgiving was one such holiday that many people spent in their own homes instead of gathering with family and friends. In past years, the day before Thanksgiving sends millions on the road to different parts of the country, taking a break and visiting family. As a matter of fact, in 2019, approximately 55.3 million Americans traveled during Thanksgiving week. However, with the COVID cases rising near the end of November and new travel restrictions enforced, this number dropped for the first time since 2008, with only 50.6 million travelers. With this significant decrease in traveling, how did Americans spend their Thanksgiving break this year?
Focusing on our community, Kaylin Lee, a senior at North, is accustomed to spending Thanksgiving with her family, including her grandmother, and enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner that she and her siblings make together for the whole family.
However, this year, Kaylin’s family spent Thanksgiving with just each other, for the safety of everyone and in compliance with the new restrictions. This year, instead of spending time with family members, they watched movies and bonded with each other. Even so, they were still able to keep their tradition of the kids cooking Thanksgiving dinner while still being safe.
Although she misses her grandmother and other family members, she shares that “it was for the best since it was safer for everyone” and is still thankful for time with her parents and siblings.
Even with Thanksgiving already well past us, the holiday season is from over. With Hanukkah just beginning and Christmas on its way, Americans will have to channel their creativity once again in order to celebrate these holidays.
A typical Christmas for Madison O’ Leary, also a senior at North, normally consists of hosting their other family members on Christmas Eve for a big event. She elaborated on this:
“We spend the whole day making Christmas food…and then we have a big dinner together. After dinner, we always spend time just talking, or we play games like Jenga and cards.”
She even admitted that “spending time with family is [her] favorite part of the holiday season.” With the drastic change in our situation this year, how will she spend her holidays this year?
Madison shared that “this year, [they] are definitely keeping Christmas smaller.” With cases rising every day, she emphasized the importance of everyone’s safety this year even though it will be strange for her not to spend time with her cousins this year. Even so, she maintains a positive attitude throughout this, sharing a tradition that they will still definitely keep this year: “We’re still going to make all our signature holiday dishes, though!”
Adopting Madison’s optimism this holiday season is essential and as she stated, the holidays can still be celebrated by keeping some traditions. Baking has always been a fun holiday activity that livened up the house with sweet and delicious smells, and as an indoor, home-bound activity, this will prove to be as safe as it is enjoyable.
Another way to liven up your house is by decorating! Stringing bright holiday lights and beautiful decorations around the house is a surefire way to keep traditions and to bond with your family as well.
As a lover of movie nights, Christmas movie time with family has always been a relaxing activity, that can be done alone, with family, or even a virtual Christmas movie night with friends! On the topic of friends, a final holiday activity that allows for some friend time while still keeping safe is doing a Secret Santa gift exchange! Although real-life hangouts are restricted, a creative way to still enjoy this activity is to drop off the gifts at your designated person’s house and conduct the festivities over Zoom!
This year has definitely been one for the history books, with so much strife and change in the world. However, the holiday season has always been a time that brought people, alike and different, together and encouraged love and peace. Even though families cannot be together physically, the spirit of this season is still alive and well, as Kaylin and Madison shared with their enthusiasm with their intention to stay safe while keeping some traditions and spending time with their family. If others shared this same mentality as the two girls, even the 2020 holidays can be one to cherish for a long time to come.