🏠😷🦠 Life As A QuaranTEEN 🦠😷🏠 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team Blog Surrounding COVID-19
A typical winter break for my family involves shopping, vacation, and spending time with family during the holidays. While many of our traditions changed significantly last year as we had to...
redefine what they looked like without my grandmother, we now have to redefine our traditions again in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more than that, general existence during winter break this year feels far different than it has in years past. It’s certainly a strange year all around, but it feels much more prominently strange now during the season of the year where we rely the most on nostalgia and tradition.
This winter break has been rather strange. While it is just starting, I can already tell that the remainder of the break will work in much of the same way: staying at home nearly every day with the occasional outing to run errands or getting out of the house just to drive around. With cases surging to repeatedly record-breaking highs across the nation and with Tennessee as a global hotspot for COVID-19, leaving the house in any way feels like a difficult choice between convenience, everyday life, and sanity against the genuine fear of getting sick, dying, or perpetuating the spread of COVID-19. We can’t simply run out for a last-minute gift or for more wrapping paper. Every outing entails a grave risk. There are no Holiday parties or special lunches with friends this year; it’s essentially just staying at home or going into stores filled with people who are potential carriers of COVID. I know that we are all tired of the pandemic, and I am too, but we have to stay vigilant in social distancing and wearing masks. While running errands recently, there appear to be nearly as many people out as there would usually be, oftentimes with poor mask manners. When given an unbearable choice between staying home and going out, please stay at home.
For most of my life, my family didn’t have any traditions that were anything special; they looked like usual family traditions for the holidays. Last year, we started to find new things that could be traditions, but we have to go back to basics this year. We’re planning for a small Christmas just in our household sometime after the holidays to exchange gifts with other family members, with masks and covid precautions. This is likely what we would have done for a family Christmas anyway, but we would have likely done it while on vacation or just before/after the break. One of my family's favorite places to be during the holidays is Disney World. While we generally love to visit Disney World at any time of year, the Holiday season has always been our favorite because of the festive lights and the memories we have from Disney Christmases past with my grandparents. Due to COVID, we don’t feel it is safe or wise to travel this season, so we are celebrating from home and missing the lights on Cinderella Castle.
This is most definitely a first-world problem and an obnoxious thing to complain about, which I acknowledge and apologize for. Still, I say all of this to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives for nearly a year now, and we are rightful to mourn the things that we have lost. Even though other people have it worse, it is still justified to mourn the loss of an extracurricular conference, a vacation, or even just a gathering with friends that you were looking forward to. We need to take steps to end the pandemic by social distancing, wearing masks, and following CDC guidelines. However, we can’t end the virus and work to support frontline workers and essential employees if we aren’t also taking care of ourselves and our mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough for many people’s mental health, and we don’t need to make it harder on ourselves by not acknowledging all that we have lost to the pandemic.
Overall, I hope that everyone is staying safe this Holiday season and is finding new, safe ways to celebrate. Here’s to 2021 that will return to some normalcy and allow for us all to mourn and heal from the things and the people that the pandemic has taken from us.