A Different Christmas

Nadia Newton and Cate Spitz

The Year 2020 has without a doubt been the most unexpected and traumatic year in decades. The pandemic has completely changed everyone’s lives and forced us to find a new normal. This year, we celebrated the first Christmas in a national pandemic. This holiday is known as a time to spend and cherish time with family and friends. However, the emphasis on social distancing and staying safe has meant that most celebrated strictly with their household only. This meant for an extremely lonely Christmas for many across the world who are high risk, infected or cautious to be isolated this holiday season. In our specific experience this year, we unfortunately were a part of the group who did not travel and spent Christmas with our household only. 

Throughout my entire life I have spent and enjoyed Christmas with my grandparents; unfortunately with the pandemic I was unable to see them and had to do a call via zoom just to talk with them. This year our traditions had to change to accommodate for this change in pace of my grandparents unable to visit. Instead of my family opening our doors to our extended family, we closed our home and spent time with each other. It was so unusual to have Christmas without other family members; Christmas is a time of spending time with family and friends, however the values of this time were twisted due to the coronavirus. Church, which I usually go to with my friends and family, was held online and watched from our television room. Although Christmas has seemed to be more materialistic than religion in the past, this year it was especially about the act of buying since church wasn’t going on in person per usual. We felt we had to accommodate for the lack of seeing each other, so we bought many gifts for my grandparents without much consideration for the holiday itself. It felt as if spending money would bring us together because seeing each other wasn’t an option; if anything it made the holiday less religious and more about gifts. Hopefully by next year churches can open with larger capacities and my grandparents can safely come to our house and celebrate as we used to. 

Every year, my family has travelled and spent Christmas with my extended family in Canada. However, the national pandemic caused the Canadian borders to close. This setback in addition to my family being high risk, meant that I spent Christmas in Bronxville this year. Although we are extremely grateful to be healthy and staying safe this holiday season, it was nonetheless an adjustment to our usual celebrations. Unfortunately, not even my household were able to celebrate Christmas together. I am one of 3 siblings who are students in different parts of the school. My youngest brother, who is a student at Bronxville Middle School was contact traced a few weeks before Christmas and is in quarantine and isolation from the family. Having a sibling quarantined and not being able to properly celebrate with my direct family was definitely unexpected. Nonetheless, we are thankful that although we adjusted our usual celebrations and traditions, we are healthy and safe. 

Although Christmas has turned around and seemed like a foreign concept this year without all the people, churches, and travel; hopefully by next year it can go back to how it was before the virus. This is a time of adjusting and accommodations; everyone is changing their traditions as the holidays progress, maybe some of these new traditions will become a part of our old ones. We hope that everyone had an amazing break and holiday, even though it was very different this year!