Celebrating holidays during a pandemic

Miriam Gildea, Staff writer

The aroma of turkey and ham filling the house, stuffing and stuffed people, Christmas carols on every person’s lips and congregations with candles. There truly is nothing quite like the holiday season.

Collaborative joy marks many a tradition around this time from Thanksgiving Turkey 5Ks to Nutcracker performances. The gift of the holidays for me has always been less about the physical gifts and more about the quantity and quality of time spent with friends and family, filled with traditions that often gave me hope and certainty of delight-filled times.

However, this year everything has changed. Unification and community have been placed on the back burner to accommodate the new COVID world. People have been banned from being within six feet of one another, and the smiles once as white and bright as the snow dusting the earth are now hidden beneath masks.

Even so, it is our prerogative to overcome. Already we have sacrificed many a holiday and celebration to 2020; this upcoming season will be no different. Grandma may not be able to bake her famous pecan pie or come to Thanksgiving dinner, but at least she can still FaceTime. Congregations may not be able to join in person to warm the churches on Christmas Eve to celebrate our Savior’s birth, but at least we can worship from our homes.

Nutcracker performances may not be able to brighten the nation with beloved music and enthusiastic dancing, but at least recordings from the past can be played. We have already come this far and adapted to the changing world. We have become more resilient and able to bear the burden of disappointment. Thus, what is a few months more?

The intention of these times is to be close to one another and be in commune. Thus, it would not surprise me in the least if over the next two months we see a rise in COVID cases. It is for this reason that I implore our community to mentally prepare for rising numbers and to try to combat this virus as they see fit. For me, I know this will entail more time spent with immediate family and less time in large groups as I typically would prefer.

The challenge of this year will be to continually strive to seek out the blessings in the little things. While much will be tossed away for a season, try to amplify the joy of less momentous occasions. Make a party out of dressing up the tree or step back and acknowledge the simple bliss of making a snow angel.

The nature of the holidays may change for a time; yet, this year does not have to be a waste. We are more innovative and resilient than we realize, and this season is sure to require some creative thought, but has every potential to be equally as enjoyable as every other year.