Holiday season brings uncertainty for residents of Massachusetts


Patrick Sweeney, News Editor

The coronavirus barreled into the United States with the force of a tornado this March. The country shut down very quickly. Businesses were forced to shut their doors. There was no sign of when things would get back to normal. There were many unemployed people in the United States. The unemployment rate was at a staggering 14.7%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was “the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the data (available back to January 1948).” The unemployment rate was at 15.1% in the state of Massachusetts in April. That number went down to 9.6% in September. However, many people are still out of work to this day. Many businesses have closed in the past 8 months. All of this is happening very quickly. The coronavirus has peaked again here in the United States. There have been reports of more than 100,000 daily infections. There have been about 163,000 cases in the state of Massachusetts and over 10,000 deaths. All of this mixed with the upcoming holiday season has been the cause of excessive stress in many people’s lives. The residents of Massachusetts need to take necessary precautions this holiday season to keep themselves and their families safe. If they choose not to, the coronavirus will continue to spread like wildfire.

This holiday season will look very different than any other. People will not be able to gather with family like they used to. In the past, many families chose to dine out during the holiday season. According to a 2016 study by Eater and CAKE data, “independent restaurants that stayed open on Christmas and New Year’s Day last year increased profits by 40 to 50 percent compared to average days.” Some people do not have the ability to cook large meals at home, so going out to eat provided them with a good meal and the opportunity to spend time with family. However, the coronavirus has changed the way people think about eating out. According to Stephanie Ruhle, who is the Senior Business Correspondent for NBC News, “A new study out from the CDC today [September 10, 2020] says adults who contracted the virus were twice as likely to have dined out in the two weeks prior to getting sick.” This proved to be a serious blow for restaurants. The winter season is approaching very quickly. Many restaurants are going to be in a tough spot this winter because of the cold weather. Some restaurants are not going to offer outdoor dining. If the weather gets very cold and snowy, patrons will not want to come. However, some other restaurants see it through a different lens. They claim that people will still want to come to the restaurant and “get out of their house,” especially during the holiday season. Many restaurants have come up with creative ideas to accommodate customers. For example, in New York City, many restaurants have come up with a “plastic bubble” idea for outdoor dining. Cafe du Soleil is one of these restaurants. The bubble allows for customers to sit outside in the cold winter months and enjoy their meal. A table fits inside the plastic contraption. The bubble also has zippers that zip up so there is no unnecessary contact between customers. Some people are thrilled about this idea. It provides them with a safe way to enjoy their meal even in the coldest months of the year. On the other hand, many disagree. They claim that the bubbles are ridiculous. They also claim that they would much rather stay at home than have to sit in a bubble and eat outside in December. Either way, many restaurant owners are very happy that they have come up with new ways to make money and stay afloat during these difficult times. A local restaurant that has been adjusting to the winter months has been the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The Log Cabin has also come up with a creative way to serve their customers during these challenging times. They are conducting a “grab and go” system for Thanksgiving. There will be two days in which customers can pick up their meals – on Thanksgiving and the day before. The Log Cabin is trying many new tactics to keep everyone safe for large gatherings. This benefits both the Log Cabin employees and the customers. The Log Cabin employees still have the ability to make money during these times. They also keep themselves safe since there will be no indoor dining. Customers are kept safe because they can just pick up their food instead of going to a sit-down meal that could possibly spread the coronavirus. Please use this link to find more information about the Log Cabin and its Thanksgiving meal pick-up. Overall, many restaurants have been adapting to the coming winter months in their own unique ways.

The coronavirus has been worsening in the United States. On November 7, there were more than 120,000 infections, which is the most since the pandemic began in March. Many states are also seeing an increase in hospitalizations. Now, summer is over and the cold winter months are approaching fast. People can no longer get outside like they used to. Gatherings are starting to be held inside. The residents of the United States need to be very vigilant about how they keep themselves safe during the hard months ahead. One of the things that has been at the top of people’s minds has been grocery shopping for the holiday season and winter. Some people have been limiting the number of shopping trips they take and stocking up all at once. Others have continued to go out frequently for a few items at a time. Experts have been discussing what items are good to stock up on. According to an article by CNN, people should be stocking up on cleaning supplies for winter. It is important for people to look for these items when they are at their local grocery store. Many of these items are in high demand. People have been buying record numbers of things like Clorox wipes. Don’t bank on finding many of these cleaning items, but if you do find some, stock up. Experts also say that people should be stocking up on non-perishable items that can be stored or frozen easily. Some examples of these items include canned fruits and vegetables, breads and cheeses that can be frozen. Experts also say that there is no need to buy everything in sight at your local grocery store. They say to just buy enough to last a couple of weeks. Lastly, experts also say to come up with a “disaster preparedness kit.” Some of the items that people should stock up on include batteries and fire extinguishers. These items will be useful when there is a loss of power or an emergency. All of the items listed above are necessary in the home. If people make one or two trips and get all of the essentials, they will feel less stressed in the future. Should things get really bad this winter, they do not have to worry about exposing themselves or their family members to the coronavirus. They can just relax in their homes during the holiday season and spend time with the people they love. 

This is a holiday season like no other. People around the world have to change the way they celebrate the holidays. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, holiday gatherings were very common. Many people entertained with elaborate gatherings. They also cooked large meals and welcomed family members into their home. Holiday gatherings were a very social affair. Dinner and dessert were served, but the conversation lingered long after the last bite of pumpkin pie was taken. Coffee mugs were refilled multiple times and there was lively chat throughout the evening. Experts warn that small events might fuel an outbreak of the coronavirus. There are many alternatives that people can take to the usual holiday gatherings. One thing they can do is to limit gatherings to their household. Families can hold a smaller version of holiday dinners. Everyone can pitch in. Children can be taught how to chop vegetables for stuffings and learn how to make cranberry sauce. Families can all sit down to a nice meal together without having to worry about exposing anyone to the coronavirus. Another thing people can do is conduct a “virtual” holiday dinner. They can conduct a Zoom meeting with family members. Everyone can talk together and enjoy their own meals from the comfort of their own homes. This is the most effective way for families to communicate with each other without being in-person. Everyone stays safe since there is no interaction. However, people still get that “family gathering” feel because people can have their cameras on during the virtual meeting. Many people have become sad because there is no way to hold an in-person family dinner. However, there are many ways to still make memories and have a great time during these challenging times.