As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, how will our holiday season change during the Coronavirus pandemic?
During December, many different holidays and traditions are being celebrated. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Boxing Day, your holiday traditions will probably change due to the rising numbers of Covid cases. Even with all of this year’s changes, there are still activities to turn the 2020 holiday season into your usual joyful season, while still being safe.
Classic holiday movies can easily make this season feel festive, while also being safe in the comfort of your own home. Snuggle up in your softest blanket and fuzziest sock and watch a holiday classic while sipping your hot cocoa. For a jolly laugh, watch Elf or The Grinch. To bring you back to your childhood – a time when there was no pandemic to worry about – check out Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and Home Alone. If you’re in the mood for a cheesy holiday romance, where everything ends up alright in the world, Netflix has tons of options, such as Let it Snow or the new series, Dash and Lily. Sitting by the fire with your household family and watching your favorite holiday classic will put you in the holiday spirit and feel like a normal holiday season.
Baking and cooking your family’s holiday treats also brings the holiday cheer while maintaining safety protocols.
“We cook as a family for the holidays, and the cooking and hosting is our biggest holiday tradition,” senior Preston Nguyen said. “My mom is a professional baker, so she usually prepares the desserts, side dishes, and decorations. My dad and I prepare the meats, some side dishes, and the appetizers. We plan the menu usually a couple of weeks ahead of the holiday, and then make a timetable for getting ingredients and cooking.”
Nguyen’s tradition of making Fried Holiday Bites and roasted vegetables for holiday parties will be different this year due to Covid.
“We usually host three parties at Thanksgiving and about three or four for Christmas. So we usually serve a few hundred people throughout the holiday season,” Nguyen said. “With Covid, we had to drastically change our holiday cooking. We have had to cancel the parties and instead have hosted only family outdoors. We actually built a new outdoor kitchen/patio so that we can have socially distant meals with a couple of family members. We’ve also eliminated dips and other dishes that are shared. We make more finger foods, such as individual mashed potato bites served on top of maple bacon.”
Cooking and baking can be an exciting activity that the whole family can enjoy together.
“Cooking is a great way to spend time with family and friends together,” Nguyen said. “No matter your skill level, there is always something that you can create with food. Don’t be afraid, pick something you like to eat, and the internet will show you how to make it.”
Christmas carols blasting from your speaker while you sing along to your favorite holiday song will spread Christmas cheer – or drive your family up the chimney. You can ask your family to sing along to Christmas carols, such as “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish you a Merry Christmas.” Have your family attempt to sing all the high notes in “All I Want for Christmas is You,” like Mariah Carey can. Blast your favorite pop Christmas songs, such as Ariana Grande’s Christmas & Chill album or Taylor Swift’s “Christmas Tree Farm” to get you into the holiday spirit.
With safety protocols in place, there are other safe activities to get you in a merry mood, outside of your home. The Coyote Drive-in Movie Theatre is a safe socially distanced way to enjoy a movie outdoors. You can watch a holiday movie like The Santa Clause safely in your car while enjoying a snack from their socially distanced stand.
Prairie Lights in Grand Prairie is also open for safe drive through views of festive holiday lights and decorations.
“We played Christmas music while looking at the lights and getting a holiday-themed hot chocolate,” sophomore Katherine Wabbersen said. “My favorite part was the ending when you drive through a tunnel of lights.”
Prairie Lights has taken precautions by keeping everyone spaced out in cars. There are also security guards keeping everything safe and running smoothly.
“It was a lot different, but it was still just as fun,” Wabbersen said. “They did a drive-thru system for everything, even concessions, so that no one had to get out of their cars. There were also no rides like last year, because of Covid, but the pretty lights made up for it.”
SNOW DAY, at the Galleria Dallas, sets up holiday-themed rooms for you to venture through. With the festive and safe photo ops, you can get in the holiday spirit while getting the perfect photo, even one that makes it seem like it snows in Texas. By allowing only small groups of at most 12 people and wristband technology to take and track your photos, this activity is safe and sure to help you ‘tis the season.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to live in your favorite holiday movie, I Love Christmas Movies, at the Gaylord Texan, is the activity for you. You can walk through scenes from The Polar Express, Elf, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Through socially distanced and limited capacity protocols, this exhibit is a great way to experience some holiday magic safely.
During this holiday season, there are tons of different ways to give back to those who are less fortunate. Operation Christmas Child has delivered more than 178 million shoebox gifts to less fortunate kids in more than 160 countries.
“Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse that collects shoebox gifts – filled with fun toys, school supplies, and hygiene items – and delivers them to children in need around the world,” volunteer Elizabeth Crowder said. “For several years, I volunteered year-round visiting churches to raise awareness and participation for Operation Christmas Child and thanking them for their involvement. I was also the project coordinator for Operation Christmas Child at my church for almost 20 years. In this role, I coordinated our church campaign by ordering supplies and boxes, organizing packing parties, hanging posters, showing videos, distributing flyers and delivering thousands of boxes to the processing center.”
Students can help out by packing a shoebox full of gifts for a child.
“You can pack a box (you can even pack one online), host a packing party, or volunteer at the Processing Center,” Crowder said. “My family and I love packing boxes together. We shop for stuff to fill boxes with throughout the year. We then host a packing party in our home and participate in other packing parties as well. It is so much fun putting boxes together and including a personal note. We also love volunteering at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center, where the boxes are carefully inspected and prepared for international shipment. It’s so cool to think when you close a shoebox at the processing center, the next person to open it will be the child who receives it.”
Due to the coronavirus, masks and temperature checks are required at the Processing Center. Social distancing and hand sanitizing stations have also been put in place to keep everyone safe.
“This year, if you volunteer at the Processing Center, they take your temperature when you enter and ask you not to come if you are experiencing any symptoms. Of course, everyone wears masks. Also, you only work at a table with people from your own group. And they try to keep you socially distanced from others. There was hand sanitizer everywhere,” Crowder said. “But it was still vibrant and exciting. Christmas music blaring, people wearing reindeer ears and crazy Christmas colored tutus. It is one of the best places on earth and one of our favorite holiday traditions!”
Even though holiday traditions and activities will be different this year, you can still make this season merry and bright. Stay safe and have a happy holiday season.