COVID has made so many dramatic changes to so many different aspects of our lives, but something that affected me more than I thought it would was the effect COVID had on the holidays.
For me and my family, we normally have a simple holiday, just the three of us. We never threw any parties, or hosted any get-togethers, we just spent time together; me, my mama, and my dad. Since we usually have a rather isolated holiday already, I didn’t think I would feel that affected come time for the holidays. However, there were subtle things that I missed that made a big difference.
Something I loved being a part of last year was Regis’ annual tree lighting ceremony. The air was filled with joy and merriment, a true community event. Not only were Regis students and faculty invited to see the ceremony, but families from surrounding neighborhoods were able to be a part of it as well. There was a cute train that took kids on rides around the quad (I was jealous I couldn’t fit, because it looked like a blast). Inside the student center children were decorating gingerbread men and writing letters to Santa, and outside around the tree was hot cocoa, and even a Santa Claus. Honestly, it was one of my favorite memories from my freshman year.
However, this year that was impossible, not only because of restrictions on gatherings, but also because of our longer than normal winter break. The main hall building had red and green floodlights like last year, but there wasn’t the glow of the lights on the trees on the quad. There wasn’t the ceremony, there wasn’t any kind of celebration on campus that put me in the holiday spirit. After all, we went home before Thanksgiving, so it would’ve been a waste if Regis had done anything festive, but that was something I truly missed.
Even before I was in college, when I was in high school, there was a feeling of Christmas approaching, usually a fun day in class, perhaps meeting with friends to do a gift exchange… something. However, this year that was not present. My friends and I agreed to do our cookie exchange in lieu of bought gifts once again, but because of the long break we will do it toward the end of January when we come back. I’m sure it will still be fun, but it won’t be the same.
While some people opted to decorate early to bring joy, our house was a little late to the party. Holiday decorating is an undertaking, and not something you can, or should, rush through, so it took a while for my mama and I to find a good time to decorate.
Even though the virus didn’t directly affect Christmas Day with my family, I could tell there was a definite shift from the year before. We wanted to go to the Christmas Eve service at church, but because of capacity and distancing, the tickets sold out quickly, so we watched from home. Even the overall mood was different because of all the stress and frustrations from how COVID has affected our lives. There wasn’t the same mood or feeling, even on such a usually joyful day.
Though my holiday wasn’t what I expected it to be, I did find joy. For instance, something that really uplifted me was driving around with my mama, wearing my Christmas jammies (a festive onesie), and drinking hot chocolate while we looked at lights. It was a cool and dark night, the night of Christmas Eve, we had made some hot chocolate, we listened to our favorite Christmas music, laughed, and enjoyed the time together. That is something I will cherish for years to come.
I hope that even with everything else feeling different, the presence of family still brought nostalgic reminders of times before COVID for you and your families. Though there are more challenges, more things to bring us frustration, and changes that try to dampen our spirits, it is more important now than ever to find the joy. I hope and pray you all find joy, even though the holiday season is ending.
Morgan Jacobus is the Editor-in-Chief of the Regis Highlander