A spread of holiday food. Image courtesy of the public domain.

A New Kind of Holiday Plan

With gathering restrictions in place, and the fear of COVID-19 spreading among family members, the winter holiday break for Frederick college students and their families turned out to be a much more private holiday than they were used to.

Families anticipated a decreased spread in the virus as we came up toward the holidays in December, but this didn’t happen. Instead, families took a different approach to the holidays as college students took a break in between semesters.

During holiday events, it’s no surprise college students wanted to see their families. However, with the fear over the holidays, many individuals took a step back to consider the grander scale of what might happen if a big event were to take place.

“Potentially my parents and I could put my grandparents in jeopardy if we had them out for the holidays,” said Jamie Brown, a student from the University of Florida who came home for the holidays, said. “Not that I have COVID right now. I was tested, but you can never be sure what will happen.”

However, big events weren’t on everybody’s plate during the holidays. Some had a more intimate setting, and urged others to try and do the same. “It’s one holiday different than what you’re used to,” said another college student, Jeremy Hannigan, who also came home for the holidays. “Instead of risking another spread just stay at home and stop the spread.”

Though the idea of the holidays is to want to spend time with your family; more thoughts turn to the safety of some of their older relatives. It’s no secret that COVID-19 can affect one individual a bit differently from another, even leading to some who are asymptomatic. With the fear of unknowing fresh in some minds it can lead some people to not want to interact at all.

“My idea of the perfect holiday this year? Stay at home,” said Danielle Marino, a stay-at-home mother of two, laughing as she answered. “Annie and Lily” (her children) “love seeing their grandparents, but now’s the time to remain safe.”

The thought that some wouldn’t be seeing their family in person lingered in the minds of some. If not in person were there any other ways to make connections happen?

“Christmas morning I’ll be FaceTiming my parents,” said Marino. “Let the girls talk to them and open some of the presents that my parents shipped over to them. It won’t be the same, but it will be safer, and I think that’s my highest priority.”

Not seeing their family this year it brought some students feelings of discomfort and frustration. “I haven’t gotten to see them while I was away at college, or at Thanksgiving. It was a bit frustrating,” said Jamie. 

“Zoom calls and FaceTimes just don’t feel the same to me. I won’t necessarily get the same happiness as I would if I were to see them in person,” he added, “but, I’ll get over it!”

“Family is the most important aspect of my life,” Marino said, “I feel as though this will be a difficult time for us to get through because we’re all so family oriented.” 

Holidays have a way of creating traditions with the events planned with a family. The loss of that tradition, even if for a year, can cause uneasiness to settle into the ones who used to partake. However, more people seemed keen on keeping their loved ones safe during the time of the virus. 

As new ideas became a placeholder for holiday events, Danielle Marino ruminated on her own and said, “New memories will have to be formed.” She paused and added, “And I believe that if we’re taking anything away from this experience it’s that the safety of our family holds higher value than our need to see them for the holiday.”

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