The holiday impact

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Quinten Seghers and Leann Bast

December 2020, the last and final month of a year that will live on in infamy.

When comparing the final months of 2020 to the first few months, it remains safe to say that it has been one rollercoaster of a year. But this rollercoaster, instead of providing the forced participants bouts of adrenaline and joy, has only brought trauma and darkness.  

The year’s biggest gut-wrenching loop-de-loop? COVID-19. 

In any non-2020 year, December as a whole is looked at with an intermingingling sense of fear and heightened excitement. The month starts off with a bang as it signals to students across the country the start of the end semester stretch. 

Once the dust has settled, the month transitions into a much sweeter tone for all.  

The second half of December brings about many beloved holidays, from Hanukkah’s menorah candles to Kwanza’s kinara candles, to Christmas’s well-known LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights extravaganza! 

Despite the cold weather that the month brings, at least for those in the northern hemisphere, the holiday season never fails to shine through and warm people’s hearts. Either figuratively with messages of family, togetherness and peace, or literally from the lights that always seem to accompany these holidays. 

This year, that image of warmth and comfort that the holiday season brings is still attainable, it will just have to look very, very different.   

2020 never turns down an opportunity to remind people of the awfulness of this entire year. As of press time, there are more than 15 million cases of COVID-19 reported in the U.S. alone alongside the death of over 290 thousand Americans according to Cable News Network (CNN).

It would be quite an understatement to say that this year has been a tough one. After all, 41,316 of those previously mentioned COVID cases and 592 directly COVID related deaths have afflicted people within Santa Clara County as of press time according to Santa Clara Counties’ official website.

Nevertheless, it is important to move forward, regardless of the magnitude of the problem that lays before oneself. So, in an effort of moving forward, in particular towards the holidays, what can one do to still have an enjoyable time? 

In order to plan for the future, one needs to look back on the past. In this case, back to not too long ago: the time of Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving celebrations this year got quite a dramatic makeover, with the upcoming holiday season being no exception with the current onslaught of COVID-19.

 Thanksgiving saw a massive reduction in typical family get togethers. According to the Morning Consult 47 percent of American families said their usual holiday plans got canceled. Another Butterball survey found that 30 percent of people planned on hosting Thanksgiving with only their immediate family, up 12 percent from last year. 

Additionally, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend had an estimated 4.9 million air travelers, down from 26 million in 2019 according to the Associated Press.

So, there was a massive reduction in travelers this Thanksgiving, as to be expected. The question remains, if Americans did not travel to visit family for the holidays, what did they do instead? 

While there have been no large surveys to date that asked specifically how people spent their at home Thanksgivings, it is still possible to make some educated guesses. 

For the most part, Americans households either A) celebrate alone or virtually, or B) together in-person but with some restrictions. 

Let’s start with the A’s. This group hosted a ton of online or virtual parties, making their families share a screen instead of a table together. Nevertheless, one of the safer options for Thanksgiving. 

Many in this group also abstained from hosting or attending virtual parties with family entirely and ate alone instead. However, they took the extra time instead and dedicated it to trying out new recipes and techniques and activities! 

This ranged from the spatchcock cooking technique for turkeys to binging Thanksgiving TV episodes from Friends, Gilmore Girls and Bob’s Burgers to fun DIY (do it yourself) arts and crafts like the ones down below.

At the end of the day, while this Thanksgiving was for many the ultimate destroyer of their holiday traditions, there were also many who took advantage of the situation to create new traditions. This is what will ultimately save the upcoming holiday season, a willingness to conform to all the craziness and create new traditions. 

Now, for the B’s). The B households were the ones who held smaller families get-togethers for Thanksgiving. Since any gathering runs the possibility of infection and/or spreading the virus, the best precautions should be taken. It is best to abide by the following guidelines for the upcoming holiday season as follows. 

Firstly, eat outside. According to CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidelines, eating outside allows for good ventilation. This maximizes the probability for any and all aerosol particles to dissipate harmlessly as it gets carried away by the air. Bear in mind that eating outside only minimizes and will never 100 percent eliminate any risk.  

Secondly, spread yourselves out across multiple tables. Try as much as possible to distance family members from one another that do not belong to the same household. Setting up separate eating locations on multiple tables can help minimize risk.

Thirdly, bring your own food. Preparing a mini feast for yourself and eating it together on disposable plates and forks, while is not as environmentally friendly, still remains an important procedure to undergo to protect one’s loved ones from the virus.  

Additionally, for the upcoming holidays, if you still crave togetherness with your family after such a long year but still do not want to meet up in person, consider the following. 

There are multiple streaming services that are shared or group viewing. This can allow for people to watch their favorite shows together. Some examples are the Google Chrome extension Netflix Party, recently rebranded as Teleparty, which allows synchronization to enjoy your favorite movies and T.V. shows from streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and HBO with your friends and family. Disney+, another streaming service, also has a built in watch together feature that one can take advantage of.

Furthermore, when it comes to video-conferencing applications, while Zoom may be king, there are other options! Besides Zoom, one can also celebrate the holidays together on Facebook’s new messenger rooms feature, Google’s google meet, Skype and more.

The Holderness Family

The point is that while 2020 may have put the typical large family in-person gatherings on pause, it still should not deter people from finding ways to celebrate. 

Our advice? Take this as an opportunity to experiment with new traditions and activities. While this pandemic may have taken so much from everyone, we are not incapable of starting back from the ground up. 

So gather some inspiration from this article and celebrate your Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza with whatever you come up with. Stay strong, and Happy Early New Years Firebirds!

*This article is the last in the series regarding Coronavirus for The Phoenix. Thank you for coming along while we explored the various impacts the Coronavirus has had.*

Photo credits to Pinterest and Shutterstock