Opinion | Zoomed, masked or distanced: The holiday season can still be special

Yeah, it’s going to be a little weird this year. But don’t let COVID-19 precautions keep you from appreciating the most wonderful time of the year.


Somewhere deep in the North Pole, Santa and his elves are hard at work. And for the first time ever, all the elves must be wearing masks. I have no confirmation of this, but I assume Santa and his crew are preparing presents at a six-foot distance. 

And if COVID-19 isn’t stopping Santa, then there’s no reason it should be stopping you. For the first time in recent history, winter holidays will take place during quarantine. While some might allow this to ruin the holidays, you can still have fun this holiday season while staying safe.

If decorating trees and gingerbread houses are too cumbersome, try making DIY masks or quarantine-themed Christmas cards. Or, what better year than 2020 to indulge in a good old-fashioned ugly Christmas sweater contest? Show off safely on Instagram or TikTok, since traditional Christmas parties will be limited this year. 

This is the perfect time to converse and share some giggles with family and friends as you watch some Christmas classics such as “Elf” or “Bad Santa” on platforms like Netflix Party. Not only is this a safer alternative, but it’s a great way to ensure no one recites the movie word for word.  

The celebration of Hanukkah couldn’t be placed on pause this year either. This Jewish holiday celebrates family, freedom and light. It lasts a duration of eight days beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, on the Hebrew calendar, which usually falls within the month of December. This year it will be celebrated from Thursday, Dec. 10 until Friday, Dec. 18. 

Although the use of technology will never be able to replace the actual presence of loved ones, the use of apps such as Zoom allow for some sense of unity. The lighting of menorah can take place over Zoom, but if technology isn’t your thing, it’s best to remain quarantined and regularly tested. If you’re quarantining alone, try your hand at cooking latkes and sufganiyot for one, with traditional songs to keep you company. 

Online shopping and directly mailing gifts to loved ones is a safer and easier way to exchange gifts. A majority of charities have created GoFundMes or donation links on their websites for virtual giving, since charitable giving is a major part of Hanukkah. 

Although Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, it is a prominent holiday nonetheless. An African holiday commemorating the celebration of African heritage and culture, Kwanzaa will be celebrated from Dec. 26 until Jan. 1 this year. 

The lighting of the kinara on each day of the seven-day celebration can ideally occur in person with loved ones or through a video streaming service or social media. The downfall of technology is the touch we lose from reality, but the advantage is the success of outsourcing information such as the significance of Kwanzaa. 

Kwanzaa is a holiday filled with intention, with each day representing a different, yet vital principle. Day one represents umoja (unity), day two kujichagulia (self determination), day three ujima (collective work and responsibility), day four ujamaa (cooperative economics), day five nia (purpose), day six kummba (creativity) and day seven imani (faith). 

The celebration of karamu, the principle of creativity, is practiced through dance, poetry and even culinary skills that can be broadcasted via social media. Kwanzaa is a holiday widely celebrated along with mainstream holidays such as Christmas, and celebrating virtually can help you connect with a wider community. 

As 2020 nears its end, I know you’re itching to celebrate a new beginning. This year will look different in terms of in-person interaction, but the celebration shouldn’t cease. Channels such as ABC, NBC, and Fox, to name a few, will be airing their annual New Year’s Eve celebration broadcast. Every year the broadcast features a plethora of musical artists throughout the night. A cozy pair of pajamas and a beverage of your choice would be the safest way to unwind and celebrate the end of a year for the books. Keep your phone charged so you can FaceTime, Zoom, Instagram or Facebook Live your New Year’s countdown. 

Setting the tone for the upcoming year is mandatory to ensure success. Take some time to write down and manifest some goals for the new year. If you aren’t overwhelmed with social media right now, you can even post a few to encourage a friend. 

This holiday season requires a “make do with what you have attitude,” but that shouldn’t stop you from kissing an anxiety-producing year goodbye or celebrating your heritage or religion. COVID-19 guidelines may make you feel like a modern-day Grinch, but with a little effort, you can still make this holiday season memorable.