Planning Holidays In a Pandemic
by Donna Scrafano
Like everything else under pandemic restrictions, holidays have been and will continue to be celebrated differently in my family.
When the world shut down in March, everyone seemed to be scrambling about trying to figure out how to live their daily lives. Holidays were not the main focus. There were far too many other hurdles to jump over. People were facing unemployment and loss of daycare services. Schools were shutting down. People weren’t able to visit loved ones in nursing facilities or in hospitals. And we all had to figure out how to obtain groceries and other necessities, assuming what we wanted even existed in the stores. Additionally, there were families and individuals stranded in other countries. And let us not forget the essential workers who braved their way to work every single day not knowing if they would complete their shift without being infected. Most heart wrenching were the individuals who lost their lives and could not have their family members by their side.
With such chaos going on, who was thinking about the holidays to follow? Not I. I, too, was busy trying to figure out what was going on in our world. Although I no longer had to concern myself with employment and the many other challenges faced by some, I had a deep, heart-felt sorrow for what was happening. Fortunately, my family members were able to re-arrange their lives and survive their challenges. I expressed my thankfulness daily throughout the day. Some days, every single minute of the day. And, when necessary, I reminded my family, how fortunate we were.
The first holiday my family celebrated differently was in April—Easter. Since sheltering-in and social distancing were still fairly new, we were quite thankful to be able to find everything on our Easter dinner menu and celebrate with our household. We Zoomed with other family members and took several walks. Success.
Restrictions eased up for the spring and summer holidays, so Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day proved to be successful as well. Our household family members and some other family members were able to socialize safely, as we have a very large outdoor space. We were able to cook outside, play games, and enjoy other outdoor activities. Three more holidays celebrated successfully during the ongoing pandemic! Again, thankful.
Although Halloween is not an official holiday, we decided to have a small celebration for the babies in the family. My two granddaughters who were one and two years old and my two great-grandbabies, who were three months and ten months. My grandson Quincy, who was twelve years old, dressed up and helped with the decorating and music. The babies came dressed up for the occasion as well. Because it was a bit cold, we first set up in the garage, then moved to the family room. There was a limited number people, so it was safe. Another success.
Currently, the COVID numbers are rising, and the two most important holidays for my family are right around the corner—Thanksgiving and Christmas. We were wringing our hands about how to celebrate. Who could be included? Typically, our Thanksgiving gathering would include about thirty family members. Not this year. With the second surge rearing its ugly head, we needed to re-evaluate who would be allowed to in our expanded family circle. Unfortunately, not all family members exercise the same precautions as we do. We in our household actually considered going away for Thanksgiving, mostly because we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by excluding anyone. Nor did we want to deal with sarcastic attitudes about our safety concerns.
I reminded myself, however, that the days of being concerned with “how someone is going to feel or react” are gone, so any idea leaving town for Thanksgiving was cancelled. After all, we were doing the right thing for ourselves. We were trying to keep safe and keep our household family safe. And while we try not to make judgments about the more carefree atitude of some during this pandemic, we who are taking a more serious approach needed to make choices. And so, we did. Thanksgiving will be with our household family only. A successful choice.
I’m guessing there will be even more restrictions in December. Our celebration usually takes place on Christmas Eve. The usual feast and gathering will look different, I’m sure. But I did manage to schedule an outdoor event for most of my children, grandchildren, and great grandbabies, however. So, on December 26th, my birthday, we will be taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride through downtown Bethlehem. Hoping for yet another successful event.
Plan safely. Your version of safe, no one else’s.
Photo credit by author.
Donna began her journey in Human Services in 1983. During the next 35 years she held various positions and formally retired in 2018. She writes on an array of social issues. Donna's relaxation time includes walking her Lab, Roxy, having fun with her seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, writing for Silver Sage, spending time with friends and family. Her last full-time position was providing care to her father. Since that has ended, Donna is taking the time to invest in her own self care and interests.