sacrifice holiday plans for safety

(Margaret Tran / Daily Titan) 

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and New Year’s can be the most joyous holidays throughout the year. Filled with food and family, they provide an opportunity to enjoy the company of those you love, celebrate and de-stress from this year’s chaotic events. 

While the stressful months of 2020 have earned everyone some relaxation time, we cannot forget the precautions and responsible safety practices that have been echoed since April. 

As the winter months arrive and everyone begins to make holiday plans, the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic must be considered when deciding on winter celebrations. As tough as it sounds, it’s crucial to rethink upcoming holiday plans for the safety of everyone involved.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most respected disease experts in the United States, warns that the cold winter months could bring an increase in COVID-19 cases. The usual holiday plans for most involve spending time together indoors since it will be colder outside, but this can be a major risk at a time when the nation is breaking its record number for daily COVID-19 cases, as John Hopkins University reported more than 100,000 cases a day on Nov. 4 and 5. 

This year’s holiday plans should be adapted to fall in line with current safety recommendations. White elephant parties, friends-givings and movie nights can still be held with applications like Zoom and Discord. These free programs are available to use on desktops, tablets or smartphones, so even technologically unskilled family members can have several options. 

Video calls may be limiting, but with the right effort from those involved, it can be a unique gathering worth telling a fun story about later. Gifts can be dropped off at each other's houses or mailed to those long-distance friends and family members, and then opened during Zoom celebrations so everyone can still see each other’s reactions. 

While the warmth of in-person celebration may be missing, there is a certain charm to lining up all of your loved ones on one screen.

Even holiday movie nights can easily be conducted with synchronized video start times or Google Chrome extensions such as Netflix Party. While settling for half-baked celebrations  may seem like a waste of the holiday season, precautions like this help ensure that future years’ activities can be held in a healthy and safe world.  

In a country with the highest COVID-19 case and death rates, there is hardly a precaution not worth taking. The mantra of “better safe than sorry” has never rang more true than it has now. The memory of 2020’s holiday season being that of oneself or a loved one getting sick would be much worse than everyone celebrating from the safety of their homes.

However, for people who still insist that the party must go on, do not be too naive to believe that a virus will respect family relationships. Social distancing and wearing a mask are still necessary precautions, even when around other family members. If the cold weather is not harsh, efforts like having your party outside and in an open area can make a large difference in preventing transmission.

This year has been an emotional, frustrating and shocking ride. Fun, stress-free times spent with those important to us is what everyone needs most right now. 

But in order to prevent 2021 from becoming a second ride on this gut-wrenching roller coaster, it’s absolutely necessary that we stay responsible during the holidays by social distancing, wearing masks in public and not allowing exhaustion from following safety rules to influence neglectful behavior.

After a trying last few months, the small additions of a Christmas stamp on a letter or a fun winter-themed background for Zoom calls will be certain to bring a smile to loved one’s faces. 

This year’s holiday season does not have to be one to forget because despite being separated, we can still feel like we are together.

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