Harrisites’ plans to celebrate this Covid-19 holiday season

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Despite the limitations of COVID-19, the city has found ways to incorporate traditional outdoor holiday attractions virtually; students and families, too, have found ways to continue spreading holiday cheer from their homes. From new opening gifts with family over Zoom to watching parades through YouTube, this holiday season features many altering their usual traditions. 

One popular tradition students have participated in the past years is gift exchanges. Junior Angelina Baicu said, “One of my favorite holiday traditions [is] to participate in a Secret Santa with my friends. It’s a fun and easy gift exchange method that saves a lot of time and money.” 

However, she added, “Due to Covid-19 rates increasing and social distancing rules, me and many others won’t be able to meet up with our friends face to face to perform gift exchanges. We’ll have to mail our gifts to each other instead, or find alternate methods to actually get the gifts to one another.” 

Another popular holiday tradition, stated by junior Daniel Song was “Every Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, usually, I’ll go to church with my family. I usually sing for my parish, and am planning to do so again.” However, knowing the current situation of the pandemic, Daniel expressed his concerns in regards to churches reopening. “With rising cases, the limited capacity and hygiene precautions churches take [may] be disregarded, and perhaps churches and other places of worship will have to close again.”

Other plans differ, depending on whether the time is being spent with immediate family or extended family. Freshman Eduardo Calero said, “Some holiday traditions I usually participate in is going to my aunt’s house gathered with my huge family and [opening] all the presents. My immediate family would go to Macy’s SantaLand every year and take the photos.”

Although some traditions will continue to take place this year, others will be discontinued. Junior Lynda Irizarry stated, “Every year my family goes to my dad’s parents’ house and we invite our extended family to a Christmas party. Because of [Covid-19], it will just be us this year and lots of food.” She added, “We also usually go to see the lights every year at this person’s house. They go all out with decorations inside and outside of the house. Lots of people from all over town go there to look around and take pictures, but they probably won’t allow that this year.” 

Others reflected on how other holiday plans were affected by the pandemic, such as those made for Thanksgiving. Freshman Sophia Shi said, “Some holiday traditions I usually participate in are setting up a Christmas tree, going to the Macy’s parade, eating a ton on Thanksgiving, shopping right before eating on Chinese New Year, going to the New Years parade.” However, Sophia shared that she and her family “ended up doing many of the things online like watching the Thanksgiving parade at home on YouTube.” 

Amanda also discussed an irreplaceable tradition her family participates in: traveling. “As my dad’s birthday is on Christmas day, one of the holiday traditions that I usually have is that every Christmas break, we would take the next flight out after the last day of school and fly to Vancouver, Canada, so that my dad can all spend both Christmas and his birthday there with his family. On Christmas Day, we would always go out to have dim sum with the entire family in the mornings and homemade dinner at night.” However, due to the current restrictions, she will not be able to go this year. “This will actually be the first year I am spending Christmas in New York or even in the U.S.!” Amanda shared.

Junior Marykate Wee said, “Normally we go to church on Christmas morning, open gifts, and then have dinner in a buffet or at home and go to Times Square. We would also meet up with family. Due to Covid all of those activities (besides Times Square) are not happening in the same way. We’re planning on zooming our family and having dinner at home.”

Although the holidays will not be the same this year, there are still a few things Harrisites are looking forward to during this break. 

Daniel stated, “I look forward to not worrying about school for a couple days! With a lot of online work, it gets a bit stressful as there’s so many assignments to remember about since it’s all online.”

“I’m looking forward to opening presents on Zoom and trying to keep up with cousins who I normally don’t get to see,” Marykate added.

Similarly, junior Julia Jinu expressed, “I look forward to taking a much-needed break from school and spending some time with my family.”

Artwork by Laura Lu, Art Staff