Adjunct professor Tim Ghianni, journalist-in-residence at Lipscomb, asked his 21st Century Media students to ponder the holidays, their traditions and what COVID-19 will or will not spoil this year. Here are some of their responses:
Extra cautious because of grandparents
My extended family loves being together. Both on my mom’s side of the family and my dad’s. We alternate each year who we spend each holiday with, and each year it is always a blast, laughing together, playing games, sharing memories and just having that time to slow down and just spend time together.
Leading up to this year’s holiday season, I think we all feared that we would not be able to spend time together. Thankfully, my family’s holiday plans have not changed drastically because of COVID, but a few things leading up to the holiday season have had to change. I know for me personally, I had a few trips planned recently that I was really looking forward to, but because I knew that I would be spending Thanksgiving with my grandparents, I had to cancel those trips. Both myself and my brother have had to be extra cautious in these last few days at Lipscomb in preparation for spending time with my grandparents. …
I know so many are not even able to be with anyone outside of their immediate family for this holiday season. So many things have been taken away from us this year because of COVID, and it is unfortunate that such a joyful time such as Thanksgiving and Christmas has to be taken away as well. But, hopefully we can all come away from this holiday season healthy and ready to start a new semester.
— Emma Clark
Careful with grandma in a cabin in Pigeon Forge.
My paternal grandmother loves the mountains. Over the past several years, there have been numerous occasions where she decided to drive up to Pigeon Forge for the weekend, and sometimes she would invite my family along. When she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer a couple of years ago, we began a tradition of spending a weekend in the mountains to celebrate Christmas together. We rent a big cabin for my family, my grandmother and my dad’s brother’s family.
Usually, we spend our time doing the things my grandmother loves to do, as well as a few things that my younger cousins enjoy. We make gingerbread houses, watch movies, go out to my grandmother’s favorite restaurants, drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit The Apple Barn, play arcade games and open presents.
This year, the combination of COVID-19 restrictions and my grandmother’s declining ability to get around have made some changes in our plans. We will likely spend more time in the cabin this year and we may not go on all of the outings we normally plan. My grandmother has a gigantic storage bin full of supplies for the many Christmas-themed crafts she has found on Pinterest for us to partake in.
We will probably pick up food to-go from our usual restaurants rather than going out to eat. Since most of our activities take place in the cabin, I don’t think the weekend will be too different from usual. We will still get to be together for a few days, which is the most important part after all.
Ahead of the trip, I will be finishing the semester from home. I plan on staying at my house most of the time so that I do not pick up any sicknesses that my grandmother could catch. My dad mostly works from home now, so he will be safe too, but my mom and brother will still be in school as normal. My mom had COVID-19 a few months ago, so she should be safe, and hopefully with all of the current restrictions my brother will be safe too. I am still looking forward to the trip, but given the current circumstances and my grandmother’s declining health, I feel a little more trepidation than usual.
Basketball and COVID clash with holidays
COVID-19 has struck the whole world and put a hold on normalcy. Due to this, the holidays this year will be very different. The uncertainty has many wondering what would be the best thing to do for the family? We all would love to see our families, but is that the best decision?
Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time to see family from all over, catch up and enjoy some wonderful food. The sound of siblings and cousins laughing is always the best. The smell of all the moms and grandmas in the kitchen cooking makes my mouth water just from the thought of it. The roar of the dads and brothers watching football is like none other. This is something I will be missing this year. I play basketball (for Lipscomb) and due to this pandemic, I will be playing away games on the 25th and 27th of November. This might disrupt the whole family’s plans. They will come to watch my games. The sounds, smells and tastes will not be the same this year. This year … is about controlling what we can control. My family might not get our normal Thanksgiving, but at least we will be with each other.
Christmas is my favorite holiday…. Our coach explained to us that we might not receive a Christmas break this year. When I heard that, it put a subtle pit in my stomach. I love this time of year. It is so joyful and warming to be at home and relax with family. We love to make cookies, watch movies, sit and talk by the fireplace. We are still not for sure if we will be able to have a break, but I am praying and hoping. Waking up Christmas morning still makes me feel as if I were a little kid again. The excitement makes me giddy right now thinking about it. Hopefully, I will be able to have Christmas with my family.
I am going day-by-day right now. This time is uncertain for everybody, there is no need to stress over something that is out of my control. I would love to be home for all the holidays, but if it does not happen, that is OK. I will be thankful for my family and their health. I am doing my best to keep the mindset of controlling what I can control. This year is a huge test in that aspect, and every day is practice.
Missing family because of COVID, but love and turkey remain
In the world before COVID, winter holidays were all about family. Each year my family (my mom, dad and three brothers) would host a Thanksgiving meal at our house. Both my mom and dad’s parents would come as well as my cousin.
My family and I would spend the morning cooking, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and preparing the house for our relatives to come. Once everyone arrived, we would have one gigantic meal late in the afternoon…. The older my brothers have gotten, the more we play football together on Thanksgiving…and the more they seem to beat me every year older they get. The rest of the day we would spend relaxing on the couch, watching movies, catching up and snacking on some leftovers if we got to the point where we felt like eating again.
This has been our tradition ever since I can remember, however, this year is going to look a little different. My dad’s parents are not in great health and rarely get out of the house. If we get to see them at all this year, we will have to bring food to their house and socially distance. On the other hand, my mom’s parents are in great health, but are staying extra cautious in this chaotic season. Since quarantine, we have seen them one time. We met them outside of their house and caught up while socially distanced. I doubt that they will be eager to come to our house for Thanksgiving, and I am not sure if we will even see them at all. Though it will be strange not having the house filled with our relatives like normal, Thanksgiving will remain important to me this year. It will still be about family, as it always has been… just in a different way. Most likely, it will just be me, my parents and my brothers celebrating together, but I can’t help but be very thankful for that. In a year I will be graduating, potentially moving, and starting my own life. Though I am ready for that, I know I will miss my family like crazy. The closer it gets, the more I realize how blessed I am with my amazing family and how precious our time is together. In a perfect world, this pandemic would be over by now, and families could come together to celebrate.
Pandemic’s Chicago shutdown could spoil the holidays
For Thanksgiving, we usually get together with my family on my dad’s side. My grandma on my mom’s side has been too sick to join us, but it’s always nice to have her as well. This year, because of COVID, our Thanksgiving will look very different. My sister is a COVID nurse, therefore I do not think I will be able to see her. There is a good chance I will not be able to go home for Thanksgiving.
Chicago right now is on lock-down, and I am afraid I will not be able to return to Nashville if I do go home. I do not want to give my parents the virus, therefore I believe I will be staying here and flying home after finals. But normally, our Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It is full of love, and care for one another.
The food is my favorite part. My grandma on my mom’s side makes her homemade Italian stuffing. Every bite is so good! My dad usually is in charge of the turkey, while my cousins and I make the appetizers. My favorite thing my family does is we go around and say one thing we are thankful for.
Even though I may be unable to do that this year, I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that my sister is fighting off the virus every day and has remained safe and healthy through it all. I am thankful for my other sister who is so strong living by herself right now during all of this. I am thankful for two loving parents who are working hard every day to ensure I am able to get an education here at Lipscomb. Whatever happens, I am still thankful for this year. If I am able to go home, that will be wonderful. If not, I know I have many families here in the Nashville area that have offered a spot at their table. I am ready for this virus to be taken seriously and for life to go back to normal. Wear a mask and wash your hands!
Immunocompromised family members mean extra precautions
As the holiday season so quickly approaches, it is evident that celebrations will look very different. As we hope and pray for a cure to the Coronavirus, we must learn how to maintain the integrity of our celebratory events from a distance. Whether that is a virtual Christmas morning, or an outdoor Thanksgiving feast, we must make accommodations to protect ourselves and those we love from the grave implications of the virus.
Personally, I am a big fan of the holiday season. I enjoy gathering with my family, eating delicious home cooked meals, gift-giving, and taking in a beautifully snowy Chicago Christmas. however, I have numerous family members who fall into the immunocompromised sector of our nation. Although it breaks my heart to alter generational traditions, it is so necessary. It would be selfish of me to not consider the health and wellbeing of my family members during such a selfless season.
Yet, while we scramble to make new plans, we must remember the reason for the season. Whatever you are celebrating this winter, it is important that we remember the fruits of joy, love, and peace we are actively celebrating. Because the truth is, togetherness is a feeling. We are so lucky to live in an era where technology and medical equipment are so vastly accessible. We have the tools to make this holiday season a safe one, but it is your choice to follow the CDC’s guidelines. Please protect yourselves and have a wonderfully safe holiday season.
Immediate family surrounds turkey table
…Thankfully, COVID-19 doesn’t impact my family’s Thanksgiving plans, because we always celebrate with immediate family for this holiday. Every year we work together in the kitchen on Thanksgiving afternoon to assemble a feast for the five of us. After eating an early dinner, we then finish the night by starting to set up our Christmas decorations, and watching a holiday movie. We always finish off the night with steaming hot cups of cocoa and spending time around our warm fireplace playing board games.
Sadly, COVID-19 will keep my family from traveling back to Florida (where the writer grew up) to celebrate Christmas with the rest of my family. Last year my family had the opportunity to return to Florida to celebrate Christmas with my mom’s side of the family. The holiday was filled with catching up with at least 50 other family members, opening secret Santa presents and eating delicious Jamaican food. We hadn’t been able to spend Christmas all together for four years. After such a wonderful Christmas together last year, we were hoping we could spend our Christmas together in 2020.
Virus has changed college experience and holidays
Thanksgiving and Christmas… have brought me an overwhelming amount of happiness, joy and laughter. I have so many traditions wrapped up in these two holidays.
Some traditions are big and some are small, but I love them all the same. As I look forward to both holidays that are coming up quickly, I have had to consider how COVID-19 could potentially change what these special days look like this year.
COVID has changed so many things in my life recently. It has changed my college experience, my friendships, the activities I usually do on a regular basis, how much I get to see my family and a lot more.
It is very discouraging for me to accept that these two special days and all the traditions will look a little different this year because of this awful virus.
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is an event where my entire extended family gets together and eats a massive meal, full of some of my favorite foods. I get to see my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.
Sadly, it would be too dangerous this year to have that many people together. Another way that this year is different for me is that I might have to get tested before I go home even when I do not feel sick, it would simply be for precaution…. I feel a responsibility to do everything I can to make sure my grandparents stay healthy, because I will be seeing them for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. While a lot of holiday traditions are changing, there are also a lot that will stay the same. I will still be able to go to my grandparents’ house on Christmas Eve and open presents, eat an amazing meal and spend time with a lot of people who I love. I will still be able to sit around a table with my family and eat a meal and remember how much I have to be thankful for.
Figuring out how to eat outside for grandma’ sake
Ever since my parents got divorced about 10 years ago, all holidays have looked a little different. It means that Thanksgiving usually means two meals instead of one, and sometimes one of them happens on Black Friday instead of Thanksgiving Day. I’m by no means complaining that I get two meals, but I have had to work on my portion control over the years. One meal I spend with my brother, my stepsister, my dad, and my stepmom. The other is with my mom, my brother, and my grandparents.
COVID-19 has changed so much and it’s definitely going to impact my holiday plans. With the virus’ risk for the older population, when we eat with my grandma, we eat outside if possible and usually at separate tables. We’re close enough that we can hear each other but far away enough that I usually end up having to kind of yell. Sure it will probably feel a little weird, but I’m still lucky to spend time with my grandparents in this strange time.
I also am a vegetarian, which complicates holidays that are centered around food. My family does a great job of accommodating my diet, and I always get plenty to eat. It usually does end up with everyone talking about how good the turkey or ham is and then looking at me to say “I’m sorry.” With more and more people cutting out meat, the options for Thanksgiving-themed vegetarian alternatives get better every year.
As far as the Christmas season, I’m not too sure what that will look like for me yet.
Brother and dad in basement quarantine?
With a family of six grown kids, many of them with families of their own, celebrations can be a little hectic. My family has continued to keep in contact with each other, since my parents help out with my young nephews and niece. My brother and I, though, are the only two who have not been around my immediate family since college began. The idea for Thanksgiving we all had in mind would be to do dinner on Thanksgiving Day as normal, but keep my brother and me at a distance. Unfortunately, since yesterday it is no longer looking as if that will happen this year. My brother received a call on Thursday saying he had been in close contact with someone who just tested positive for the virus. My dad went to pick him up that day and brought him home at 2 a.m. Both my brother and my dad are now quarantining in my house, keeping away from my mother. My brother and dad will be tested in a few days and if he comes out positive, Thanksgiving will look more different than it already was looking.
If they are positive, when I come home I will not be able to see my dad because that will be during their quarantine period. The house will be split with my mom and me upstairs and the two COVID-19 patients in the basement. It is unlikely that I will be able to spend time with my siblings, niece, and nephews as well. I am praying that this is not the case, but there is a good possibility it will turn out this way. I already came to terms with the fact that I would not be able to see one of my sisters, who is expecting, over the holidays. I also have to stay away from my grandmother, who I have not seen in three months.
This was going to be a complicated event from the start, but sadly I am not sure if I will be able to see even a little of what the holidays were like. Even though this is difficult, I am still so blessed to be able to attend college and my brother and I knew the risks going in. It is much more important that my family stays healthy and safe, rather than risking it on one dinner celebration. I know that if my family is smart this holiday, we will be able to look forward to many more celebrations to come.
No Thanksgiving in Brazil, and no Christmas at beach
I won’t be with my family (in Brazil): I think that is probably the biggest and most impactful change for this holiday season. Due to COVID-19, the borders are still closed and the only people allowed to come in and out of the country are American citizens and green card holders. I’m neither of those. Part of me doesn’t understand why they wouldn’t allow student visas to do the same, since they legally live here, but I understand the whole world is trying to stop the spread of the virus. That’s what I want for Christmas, Santa, for the virus to leave this planet.
What my family usually does back in Brazil is that each year we spend Christmas with either my mom’s side of the family or my dad’s side. I personally prefer my mom’s side just because my fun cousins are there. They are my age or just a little older and we grew up together, even though we lived in different cities. On my dad’s side, all of my cousins are way older. I am the youngest girl and I just basically sit and play on my phone. I love both sides though, but every family has a crazier and more fun side. My mom has 10 brothers and sisters, I have over 40 cousins, so it is always full of energy and food, of course.
In Brazil it is more common to celebrate Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. We usually have a big banquet at night, and kids open presents at midnight. Gift-exchange is also different. We usually only get one thing that we ask for, sometimes we don’t get anything. We play White Elephant if that brings you some familiarity. It was a total culture shock when I came here the first time as an exchange student and saw the piles of gifts my host siblings were getting. I also got lots of gifts, which was kind of crazy. Talking about crazy, Christmas happening during the wintertime sounded like a movie thing (since I’m from the Southern Hemisphere, where it is summer), until I saw snow outside of my window. I almost cried.
For New Year’s my family always goes to the beach. We’ve been doing that for the past nine years now and it is always packed and really hot. This year my parents informed me that they’re probably not going there because of the amount of people. They don’t want to risk getting sick. People think that the beach is COVID-19 free. Disappointing.
We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, for obvious reasons. This year is going to be my third Thanksgiving ever…. My holiday season this year is going to be with my boyfriend’s family. They invited me to stay with them, and, even though we’ve been together for 2½ years, we’ve never spent this season together. The plan in the beginning of the year was to go to Brazil together. Unfortunately another plan ruined by COVID-19.
It’s going to be heartbreaking not being with my family in such a difficult time, especially because I miss them so much and it is going to be a whole year without them. I know I’ll be taken care of and all I want is for them to be safe. We will be together soon and hopefully the world will be back to normal very soon.
Chinese food for the Holiday
Although I’m sad I won’t be able to be with my family, I also feel really blessed to have a family worth missing during this holiday season. I know a lot of people who dread going home when they have to or don’t have a family to go to at all. So since this is a day of giving thanks, I’m choosing to be thankful for who my family is and the fact I might be able to eat Chinese food on Thanksgiving. This will be my first Thanksgiving not going home but it’s not for COVID reasons. Because I’m an out-of-state student, flying home is expensive. I’m also in the process of ending my old lease and starting a new one, which made it extra tricky to figure out if I was going home or not. But since I’ll be going home for Christmas in early December, I thought for money and convenience sake, it was best for me to stay in Nashville. So the question is, what am I doing for Thanksgiving? I don’t really know the answer to that quite yet. I had some plans fall through, so I’m deciding between going to a friend’s house or staying home and eating Chinese food.
Photo courtesy of Riley Hoag.