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Candy Canes and Corona: What Will the Holidays Look Like This Year?

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On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four long coughs, three days of fever, two hours sleeping and congestion with a headache!

The music may sound the same this holiday season, but everything else is up in the air, including those pesky airborne droplets. So far, 2020 has been a Grinch of a year, and like a lingering party guest that just can’t take a hint, COVID-19 won’t leave. So, what will the Christmases, Kwanzaas, Hanukahs and other celebrations look and feel like? Who knows! Seriously, who does? But here are a few good guesses and some thoughts about making the holidays memorable. 

This year, Home Alone takes on a whole new meaning. Experts say social distancing is best and mass holiday gatherings will be shunned, if not prohibited. While some yearly community activities are still on the calendar, others have been cancelled or drastically modified. 

Good news for sports fans, though; Thanksgiving football seems to be a go. The NFL will play what looks to be a regular Thanksgiving Day schedule, with some franchises allowing real, live fans in the stadiums. Tailgates and big viewing parties will be few and far between, so watching the game from the comfort and joy of the couch will be how most of us see the action.  

You can deck your halls in December, but twirl that tinsel on your own or with a few close family and friends. Holiday parties are much less likely to commence, and hosts and hostesses of small gatherings will continue to offer hand sanitizer and disposable masks to keep the germs at bay. 

Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, even Santa might be confused with holiday travel. While many airlines are offering attractive deals on end-of-the-year vacations and holiday trips, much of the gathered data suggests that vacationing now may not be a good idea. Not to mention, some states still have strict quarantine policies for those travelers returning from certain areas. On a brighter note, travel agencies are reporting that late-winter vacations are getting some much-needed attention.  

Pandemic Presents
A global pandemic greatly affects the holiday shopping season and many people purchased early. This year it is expected that 30 percent of holiday gifts globally will be purchased online. Eager shoppers snagged gifts in brick and mortar stores (where available) quickly too, because no one’s really sure what will be available last-minute. But stay in touch with your locally owned stores for their offerings.

With fewer people in stores, Black Friday should be much quieter. So, perhaps we will be seeing fewer videos of shameful shoppers brawling over TVs and trendy toys. The list of stores not opening on Thanksgiving keeps growing, while retailers are boosting their online presence with digital offers, extended sales and convenient curbside pickup. Rejoice! There’s no need to set the after-Thanksgiving 5:00 a.m. alarm. Just lounge in your PJs, make pancakes and play cards with your people. 

If you’re looking for something special for someone on your list, try not to get your heart set on one item. This holiday, retailers say safety measures implemented by manufacturers, such as social distancing, mean that fewer people can work at any given time, slowing down what the elves can produce in the workshop. And the Post Office, UPS and FedEx will have challenges just keeping up with December deliveries. 

But pandemic presents don’t have to be hand-delivered to be appreciated. Thoughtful virtual purchasers can provide some pretty respectable gifts. Audio books, gift cards, group e-cards and even subscriptions/credits to a recipient’s favorite streaming service can be presented with the click of a button. And giving a tax-deductible donation in a friend or loved one’s name is always a quick and thoughtful way to show you care, sans wrapping paper.  

Creative with Corona
Yes, we could sob in our eggnog about all the cancelled concerts, postponed parties and skipped traditions, but now is the time to get holiday resourceful! Let’s face it; many of us have more time to plan anyway, unless, of course, you’re homeschooling, and that’s another story. 

Look at it this way. This time last year, we were up to our icicles in presents and party prepping. The upside to celebrating the holidays in a pandemic is that we can concentrate on our old family traditions and take time to make more-meaningful new ones. This season, we can focus on the experiences of conversations, puzzles and cookie-making. Perhaps, we even safely include someone who may not have close family or friends nearby? 

Humans are resilient and resourceful, and no doubt people will get their merry on, whether it’s road tripping to see holiday lights or caroling on a Zoom call. Things may look a little different this year, but the fa-la-la-la-la still feels fantastic.

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