Not Your Mother’s Holiday Tradition

Photo by Kleigh Balugo

By Tracy Fuentes

As COVID-19 cases surge across the United States and local governments reveal stay at home orders, the incoming holiday season is destined to differ greatly from all holidays before it. Older relatives will likely be at home, away from family this holiday to protect their health, and many will not be traveling many miles to be with their loved ones. 

Churches and restaurants will not be as packed during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The shopping malls that remain constantly full during December as everyone scrambles to find the perfect gift is likely to be empty, and all shoppers if any will be wearing masks.

If you’ve been struggling to come to terms with holiday traditions this year, that’s completely understandable. In fact, that’s a normal reaction to something you are fond of changing unexpectedly. 

We all look forward to the holidays. It can be disappointing, to say the least, to hear that these stay at home orders will extend past the holidays. Changing traditions may sound tragic, but it speaks to the adaptability of the human race. 

We tend to cling desperately to our traditions, especially during the holidays. It feels that the holidays will be completely ruined if they do not go exactly as planned, or if one simple step is forgotten. Changes in plans can lead to tears, angry words, or complete breakdowns.

Traditions are not these strict set of rules that we must abide by unless we want the death of Christmas as we know it.  “Tradition” receives a negative connotation because of people who refuse to be adaptable. Our families created these traditions, surely we can adapt them for these unprecedented times.

Maybe your tradition will come out on the other side of 2020 even better than before. I have a few ideas on how to make the most of the changes forced upon us this year. 

Many people go to take photos with Santa. Santa may be behind plexiglass this year with a mask on, so why not have everyone in your family dress up as jolly ol’ St. Nick instead and take out the selfie stick by the Christmas tree? The photos will be much sillier than posing next to a mall Santa, and you’re guaranteed to make more memories dressing up and posing with your family.

Maybe your family tradition is going to the movie theater on Christmas Day and sharing a large tub of popcorn. While most of us don’t have a large screen projector in our homes, we still have the ability to go all out for movie night. 

Have everyone put on their comfiest pajamas and prepare a movie marathon: Christmas, Harry Potter, Star Wars – whatever your family fancies. Then, prepare everyone’s favorite snacks, or bake a yummy shareable dessert for everyone along with bowls of popcorn. 

You can even upgrade your popcorn, by creating your own seasoning mix or making your own caramel corn. While lounging at home does not have the same atmosphere as the movie theater, it provides a fun, yet different experience.

One major tradition that is changing is the people who will be there during the holidays. Zoom calls aren’t quite the same as a hug from your grandma. How can Christmas game night be as crazy without your competitive cousins?

While less than ideal, there are ways to make FaceTime and Zoom fun. Do a virtual movie night with your family all across the world, using extensions such as Netflix Party. Have everyone gather around a laptop and open gifts one by one, just as you would have if you were in person, the only difference being you have to hold up your new AirPods to the webcam so your aunt can see. 

Game nights are also a great thing to adapt virtually. Jackbox Party Packs can be screen shared while players join and play using their devices, and there are other online games available as well.

Regardless of what your family tradition is, spending time with and celebrating the people you love is at the core of these traditions. No matter how far you may be from your loved ones, there is some way to make memories and show appreciation. Remembering this is the key to surviving this abnormal year and holiday season.

No, the 2020 holidays will not be the same as years past. Some traditions will need some alterations, but that does not mean they are irredeemable. It could make the traditions a more perfect fit for your family and friends than before. 

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