How To Safely Celebrate The Holidays This Year

How To Safely Celebrate The Holidays This Year

Nevaeh Lopez, Herald Staff

With the holidays right around the corner, the rising cases Covid-19 make it seem nearly impossible to celebrate the holidays normally this year. But, just because things are going to be a little different, doesn’t mean they have to be less fun and festive.

This year, my family is having a small Thanksgiving get-together. It’s just close family, but that’s what we usually do every year, so not much is going to be different. During Thanksgiving we will all talk about our ideas for our annual Christmas Eve party. These parties are such a big part of our family’s traditions. We all gather together at my grandmother’s house in the late afternoon on December 24th. There are aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, great uncles, second cousins, the boyfriends and girlfriends of cousins, the husbands and wives of cousins, the new babies, the extended family, and even a great amount of family friends. We all pack together in my grandmother’s small house, like a can of sardines. We eat Swedish meatballs, jello cakes, taco salad, garden salad, Hawaiian sweet rolls, snowball rolls, rice and beans, and there’s usually a ham too. Food isn’t a major part of our Christmas Eve, but it’s still important.

We have two Yankee swaps, one for the kids, and one for the adults. The Yankee swaps are played like this: each person will bring a wrapped, unmarked gift and place it in the middle of the living room. Everyone is given a number, and they select and unwrap gifts from the pile in that order — with a twist. The person who receives the number 1 will pick a gift from the pile and open it for all to see. The person who receives number 2 then chooses a gift and opens it, and then must decide whether to keep it or swap it for the first player’s gift. Each person after then gets to select a present, open it and decide whether to keep it or swap it for any other gift someone has already opened. After everyone gets a present, the person who picked first gets to choose from all the gifts or keep what they have already received. In the end, the gift you are holding is the gift you take home. The Yankee swaps are always so fun, but it isn’t fun when my mom always gets her hands on the ham. I don’t like ham. Sometime during the evening we take an hour out of the party to go to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It’s a beautiful service that usually includes a live nativity, and a candle lighting ceremony. In past years as a kid, we participated in the live nativities at our churches, but as we got older it was more important to spend our time together as a family. The evening always ends with my great aunt reading ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ We exchange gifts after that, and say our goodbyes.

Because our Christmas parties always include people from out of state, and family members that we don’t see every day, we have to make some big adjustments. Our Christmas Eve crew is only going to include the same people from Thanksgiving, and possibly less than that. We’re going to have the same kind of foods and desserts, but instead of dressing up fancy and going to church, we’re all going to match Christmas pajamas. Instead of doing two separate Yankee swaps, we’re doing one big Secret Santa. While some people aren’t going to be able to do anything this Christmas, I am so happy that I see the most important people in my life every day, and I am thankful that the holidays mean as much to them as they mean to me.

Hopefully, you got some ideas for this year’s Christmas. Whether you are celebrating it in your household, with some close friends, with your pets, or with no one at all, everyone deserves to have an amazing Christmas.  Please stay safe this year, but don’t forget what the holidays are all about.