The Holidays: Celebrating during the pandemic


Graphic by: Erin Geschwender

Erin Geschwender, Design Editor

The holiday season is an important time for many families to get together with relatives from near and far, and with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a wrench into the plans of families across the country, how will people go about celebrating the holidays this year? 

In-person gatherings pose various risks to all that attend, regardless of size. Family gatherings often include grandparents and other older relatives, making getting together even more dangerous as the elderly are at a much higher risk of catching a severe case of the virus. In addition, some family members may have compromised immune systems that, regardless of age and overall health, would also put them at higher risk. Even without these factors, it is not worth putting your loved ones at risk, even if it means skipping out on an important family tradition. 

While it is currently unknown how family events will affect the number of COVID-19 cases, the United States has already seen large spikes with more minor holidays. It is reasonable to assume that winter celebrations will cause another, much larger spike. Celebrations during Memorial Day and the Fourth of July have been blamed for surges during the summer. Even gatherings not related to holidays, a wedding in Maine and a Sweet 16 party in New York, were linked to more than 175 and 37 infections respectively, according to USAToday. 

Gatherings of any size can lead to a large amount of spread overtime, especially if attendees have traveled from far away. The CDC is currently advising everyone to celebrate only with people living in their household as cases rise across the country. However, if you do attend an event with those outside your household, a 14-day quarantine is strongly recommended.

For many, family gatherings during the holiday season may be the only time each year that they are able to see some members of their extended family. They are often a time filled with bonding and important family traditions. COVID-19 has caused an increase in feelings of loneliness and disconnection as people have been forced to isolate themselves. USAtoday says that missing out on normal holiday celebrations are expected to further deepen these feelings. 

 LSE math teacher Brian Kaiser does not typically host a family gathering during the holidays but does celebrate with his brother and his family. This year, Kaiser says that his family will not be attending any holiday get-togethers. “We will be staying home and taking it easy,” Kaiser said. 

This holiday season, sacrifices will need to be made in order for everyone to stay safe. “I hope people realize the possibilities of what can happen depending on the choices they make,” Kaiser said. “It’s not ideal, but we all understand.” 

While it is disappointing to miss out on many well-loved traditions, it is important to look on the bright side. This year can be a year to start new traditions and try new things. 

The current state of the pandemic has made it impossible to safely host the typical large gathering. Families will have to get innovative to still enjoy the festivities in a safe manner. Here are 10 COVID-19 safe ways to keep the festive spirit alive:

  1. Bake some holiday treats. Whether you want to stick with the traditional gingerbread cookie or try out new recipes, there is an endless variety of desserts to choose from.
  2. Make food for friends and family. Cooking can be a great way to get in the holiday spirit, and while you may be unable to share a meal with your loved ones this year, receiving food as a gift will brighten anyone’s day.
  3. Watch a holiday movie. Winter is the perfect time to pile under some blankets with a warm cup of hot cocoa and enjoy your favorite holiday movie. It will provide a chance to relax and unwind during these stressful times.
  4. Though it is unsafe to celebrate in person, Zoom provides an easy way to celebrate safely with friends and family. During Thanksgiving, Zoom removed the 40 minute time limits on free accounts to allow people to celebrate, it is likely that they will do the same for the winter holidays.
  5. Drive around looking at Christmas lights. You can plan out a route or drive around neighborhoods, either way you are sure to see a variety of beautiful lights.
  6. Relax. Without the stress of preparing for a big get together, you can instead take some time to rest and fully enjoy winter break.
  7. Try cooking some new foods. Staying home for the holidays means that you can cook whatever you want. You can use this time to experiment on new dishes.
  8. Have a socially distanced outdoor gathering. Find a warmer day where you can invite a few friends or family for a short visit. This way you can still see and talk to them in person, while still staying safe.
  9. Get creative. While you’re stuck at home there is plenty of time to pull out the craft supplies and make cards and other gifts for your loved ones. Not only is it fun but it is also sure to make the day of whoever you gift it to.
  10. Listen to Festive music. If you’re having a bad day, some holiday tunes are sure to raise your mood.

Though the holidays will not look the same this year, it is important to be thankful for what you have and do what you can to celebrate during these difficult times.