COVID-19 affects holiday plans

Spanish Teacher Jenna Lumsden has remained festive during the COVID-19 pandemic this 2020 holiday season by decorating her Christmas tree.

Photo submitted by Jenna Lumsden

Spanish Teacher Jenna Lumsden has remained festive during the COVID-19 pandemic this 2020 holiday season by decorating her Christmas tree.

Olivia Baude, Staff Reporter

The 2020 holiday season is upon us, and due to growing coronavirus cases, it’s one like never before for many. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended not traveling over the holidays if possible. However, many are still doing so because, according to the Transportation Security Administration, more than one million passengers were screened at airports on the day before Thanksgiving this year. 

Jenna Lumsden, Spanish teacher, said she will not be traveling over winter break, though.

“When in Illinois, I typically spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with just my immediate family, so fortunately, that won’t change, but all of our celebrations with extended family and friends this year have been moved to Zoom,” she said. “On the one hand, we will miss being able to celebrate in person, but on the other hand, we are happy to do something fun and different this year in a safe way.”

Hannah Earich, junior, shared how COVID-19 will affect her travel plans throughout the holidays.

“We don’t have any plans to travel over winter break,” she said. “Usually, we may visit some extended family for a few days, but we know that the risk is too high to leave the state, and it would honestly just be selfish to do so.”

Earich also shared how celebrating Hanukkah will be different this year. This, however, is not the only Jewish holiday that the coronavirus has affected.

“COVID had definitely affected our Hanukkah this year, but not as much as the major Jewish holidays in September (Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah),” Earich said. “Those holidays have much more importance than Hanukkah, and usually we would celebrate entirely with extended family and go to synagogue, but this year we did neither, and neither did any family or friends that we know. However, with Hanukkah, we do most of the traditions like lighting the menorah and giving gifts with just our immediate family.”

Although many will not be able to see their extended family, they are still finding comfort in celebrating the holidays with their immediate ones.

“I have a pretty small family that has been safe, so we are still getting together,” Riley Stewart, freshman, said.

Additionally, people continue to find ways to remain festive in this unprecedented time, because although traditions may look different this year, the holidays are still something that people said bring them joy.

“We have tried to do all of our normal things outside of gathering with others,” Lumsden said. “We have decorated our tree and watched a lot of Christmas movies so far. We have been listening to Christmas music while we cook dinner each night. I plan to bake cookies, too! We’re trying to stay in the spirit despite 2020 feeling different.”

The pandemic has also led some people to find new and inventive ways to celebrate the holidays so that they can celebrate safely. 

“You can have just as fun of a holiday from home,” Earich said. “You can use Zoom to meet with extended family or attend religious services, use your extra time to decorate much more than you normally would and mail gifts to your loved ones. You can do whatever makes you happy because this is a really hard time; just please stay home!”