• Maya Chavez

Holiday traditions adapted to the new socially distanced times

Illustration by Tara Jacoby (source: online)

This holiday season will undoubtedly be different from any other, but there are still upsides to this unusual experience.

The global pandemic that affects every aspect of our lives is also responsible for making this holiday season abnormal. The California State Government has released new regulations explaining how to safely celebrate the holidays with your loved ones. The rules are fundamentally the same as the precautions we have already been taking to stay safe over the past months: wear a mask at all times, social distance, and gatherings should be less than 2 hours. But with the holidays right around the corner, these rules make it hard to spend time with family, which is what makes the holidays so special. This pandemic is leaving everybody scrambling to find new and innovative ways to celebrate the holidays, even if it is not what they are used to.

Freshman Anjela Abanico mentions a tradition that her family would do every year, “We would always go to the ice skating rink with my oldest sister and my mom.” Sadly, Abanico will not be able to experience gliding through the icy floor beneath her because public traditions like ice skating will no longer be open due to the risk of infection. Freshman Emma Sondergaard will also not be able to celebrate her usual traditions. Sondergaard is a consistent holiday traveler, she says, “I usually go on a little vacation with my family, in the past, we usually went to Mexico.” Though Sondergaard’s family is opting out of traveling internationally, they have chosen to continue their tradition with a getaway to Palm Springs. Even though it is not their usual holiday destination, Sondergaard’s family has chosen to make the most of the situation and plan to still have a great time.

Shifting holiday plans to make them both enjoyable and safe is the name of the game this year. “We were supposed to go back to the Philippines for Christmas,” Abanico explains. Even though Abanico is disappointed that she won’t be able to travel to see her extended family, she is determined to make the best of the time at home by spending more time with her immediate family. However, sophomore Parker Lynch is still planning to celebrate with his family, but in a more controlled environment. When asked about the topic, Lynch stated, “The only bummer is our grandparents and some of our older aunt and uncles aren’t able to come because of the risk.”

Creating new traditions is a great way to celebrate as well. Abanico describes a new routine she has created with her Mom, “Whenever she comes home, if I finish my homework, we would watch Christmas movies every night.” Abanico has carried on with her persistent cheerful attitude; she is determined to use this uncertain time and turn it into a fun memory with her family. Other great experiences can come out of celebrating the holidays from home. When do you ever get a chance to drink hot chocolate in your pajamas while you are in history class? Now is a great time to embrace being home and turn it into a positive way to celebrate.

It is important to have steady constants in our life and annual holiday traditions are a fallback to remind us of our favorite memories through all of this change. Abanico explains her favorite holiday tradition called Noche Buena, “We would cook a feast before 12 o’clock, and then at 12 o’clock[in the morning] we would start eating.” This is a Philipino tradition that Abanico’s family has been performing for as long as she can remember. After Noche Buena, she would open gifts and watch Christmas movies. “I think the Noche Buena is the most special since we’ve been doing it for generations, so I think it just makes me feel closer to my family,” says Abanico. Abanico is continuing a multi-generation long tradition that makes her feel closer to her family even when they aren’t sitting beside her. Traditions like Noche Buena that bring us together even when we are not are the best kinds of ways to celebrate. Lynch and his family will still be able to celebrate their vast number of traditions. Lynch exclaims, “I am still very excited for the holidays because it is a small break from school and we will still hold our golf matches, be able to walk the beach, ride our bikes and play ping pong and billiards at the house!” Spending quality time with family is truly what makes the holidays special, and being at home presents itself with great opportunities to do just that.


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