A 2020 Christmas: Still Merry

Dec 6, 2020 | Christmas, Holiday Celebrations

I’ve never been good at making predictions. I don’t know when to pack an umbrella. I’m not good at picking the Derby winner, and I definitely can’t tell when my 7-year-old will eat his vegetables at dinner. The good news is, there’s one event I can predict: the holidays. My holidays have played out in the same cozy way for decades. This year, however, it looks like even that’s changing. I couldn’t have predicted how the year 2020 would change everything, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to roll with all this change.

It’s been my tradition to spend the holidays with my family. My parents, husband, grandmother, and I sit around the kitchen table watching my sister take her annual bite of pumpkin pie. We wait anxiously to see if this is the year she likes it. Nope. It’s not. My holiday has been this way for decades — but not this year. My sister, her husband, and toddler won’t be flying into town. My grandmother’s nursing home has closed its doors to visitors due to COVID-19 safety precautions. The holidays are changing.

Louisville resident Janet Buckman and her family are also on the road to revising their plans. “Usually we go to my sister’s, but this year it’s definitely changing.” For many years Janet has had a lively dinner with 25 to 30 family members, but all of her family is “doing a different thing this year.” Social distancing, staying in family pods, and making choices to keep older family members safe are all reasons plans are shifting.

The same holds true with Louisvillian Andrea Maddux O’Brien and her family. “Normally on Christmas Eve my husband, my kids, and I all go to my in-laws.” Andrea says it can be so crowded “that you don’t want to leave your seat because you might not get it back…it’s so funny.” Recently, she said, “I came to the realization that it’s not going to happen the way it normally does” because, even though it’s been a hard call, it has become crucial for them to incorporate social distancing practices into their holiday event.

As for me, with all the change in traditions, I don’t feel all that jolly. The consistency of my traditions grounds me in my childhood. I feel connected to beloved family members that have passed or even holidays long ago where the magic of the season was more present within me. What can I create that’s new that will still give me that same feeling of connection?

Janet is taking the connection she feels through her family’s recipes and adding that ingredient to her new tradition. “I’m going to cook for the three of us.” She decided to cook up all of their traditional dishes and her family will use the magic of technology to have a virtual meal together. “It’s the safe way to do it,” she says. Andrea’s family is planning to visit each other in shifts to limit the number of people and allow enough room for social distancing.

My family will be creating some new traditions. I plan on inundating my grandmother with too many handmade holiday cards, and I’m even going to try my hand at one of her famous recipes. This year, though, I’ll have to watch my sister take her annual bite of pumpkin pie via video chat. But who knows? Maybe it will finally be the year she likes it.

P.S. Here are some ways your family can spread joy and not germs this holiday season.

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