By Jeremy Kaufman
Celebrating the holidays last year was quite a different experience than most of us have ever known before. Much of my family feared the very notion of seeing one another. Most other families probably endured the same dynamic. However, this year is expected by many, or at least hoped to be, “back to normal.” There is a good reason for this. Unlike the fall and winter seasons of 2020, our nation has now reached 56.7 percent of all adults and children over 12 having been fully vaccinated, and as of this writing FDA approval for children is close at hand, which should improve the situation even more. If more people continue to get vaccinated, we can expect to see a lessening of coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths. Therefore, we can expect a normalization of life in general assuming there are no extraneous circumstances such as a new, more lethal variant. And with Halloween fast approaching, we have our first holiday test. While all the leaves haven’t turned yet if I celebrated I would sure be looking for a costume. Still, there is time for things to change Covid-wise. I expect that there will be trick-or-treaters. If my children wanted to trick-or-treat, I would probably let them. I would tell them to wear a mask if they had to interact with anyone, though. Also, people should avoid taking treats that are not packaged, though that has been a parent’s warning since long before Covid. After Halloween, there are more holiday tests as the winter looms. Thanksgiving with our families will be a milestone in the pandemic for people across the United States. My family is currently planning a full Thanksgiving with everybody invited. Assuming everything works out, Thanksgiving will be very much closer to normal for most of us. However, not everything will be the same. This is especially true for families with relatives who live abroad. My family is one of those. I have family in England, Israel, Chile and Italy. The mere fact some of my aunts, uncles and cousins don’t live in the United States has made it extremely difficult for us to see them in person throughout the pandemic. The absence of many family members made the holidays much less joyful for me. There are also ways that people might be conducting their family get-togethers differently. One thing that went out of style in 2020 was the all-you-can-eat buffet. My mother stopped doing buffets because of the pandemic. I wouldn’t be surprised if other families are making this change too. Some people may still be doing the six-foot rule as well. This may not mean total social distancing at family functions. However, people still want to be on the safe side.
Another change that some people may still be doing this holiday season involves the number of guests involved due to health reasons. While my family is having large celebrations this holiday season, other families may have slightly fewer guests than before the pandemic. They would likely do this to protect immunocompromised or elderly family members. However, I am sure that most families are having far more guests than last year during the height of the pandemic.
2021 has also seen economic issues as part of the recovery from the pandemic. Among these economic issues are the rising prices of many goods, like the cost for groceries and gasoline. Regarding the holidays, I would not be surprised to see difficulties for families with food and travel. Further, the news is currently filled with dire predictions of supply chain issues impacting both the availability and delivery of holiday gifts. The coronavirus’s impact on the economic situation could certainly dampen the winter holiday season for many people. However, I keep my hopes up that the holidays will not be ruined by Covid, and this new year will be a positive experience.