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by Emma Baker

COVID-19 has a drastic effect on how people celebrate the holidays this season. Celebration is a time to engage in enjoyable social activities. Families are having to be creative and find different ways to join together in unity for this Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

Lili Hanson is a senior education major and enjoys spending time with her family during the holiday season. Hanson said: “When I hear the word ‘celebration,’ I think of the emotion ‘happy.’ I think of family coming together and sharing a meal, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. My family defines it the same way. We have a lot of extended family, so we love celebrating with many people.”

Maia Ellenburg, a junior information systems major, stated, “I define celebration as any sort of gathering to commemorate or honor someone or something. My family defines celebration similarly to me. We usually celebrate things like holidays, or special events like graduation. We often celebrate by doing something together, whether that be eating together, going somewhere together or sharing an experience together.”

Due to the pandemic, people cannot get together in bigger groups. But people are finding ways to work around the COVID-19 virus.

“This year, because of COVID-19, we are unable to get together with our extended family for Thanksgiving,” Hanson explained. “We are doing lunch with my mom’s parents and brother, but otherwise we are just celebrating as an immediate family. For Christmas Eve, we usually always go to my great grandma’s house, but we won’t be doing that this year. We will be celebrating with just my immediate family. I wish it was different, but I also want everyone to be safe.”

In addition to keeping loved ones safe, people also want to be cautious and mindful about others’ feelings and comfort levels.

“In light of COVID-19, my family is planning on driving to family Thanksgiving instead of flying,” Ellenburg said. “For Christmas, my grandparents are coming up to visit us. By being careful to sanitize and social distance, we are hoping to still enjoy the holidays with family.”

Finding ways to work around social distancing and limited gathering protocols are the biggest challenges for families looking to gather together this holiday season.