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Santa’s disinfectant?Family adapts to strange holiday season

Less than two months after Christmas, seven-year-old Mallory Miller began to worry. How does Santa avoid the coronavirus when traveling from home to home this year?

“Are you worried that he might get sick?” She asked.

Mallory’s mother, Kelly Miller, said she was surprised at her daughter’s question. Like many things about pandemics, there was no clear answer.

She told Mallory that Santa and his reindeer would wear masks and move as soon as they visited Millers’ home in Ashburn, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, DC.

Mallory thought a bit about this and concluded that omitting milk and cookies was a bad idea. “We don’t want him to take off his mask in the house because he traveled,” she said. Her mother agreed.

So they decided this year to give Santa a hand-decorated disposable mask and a large bottle of hand sanitizer instead of a snack.

This holiday season is going to be a little weird. Pandemic-themed Christmas ornaments are top sellers. Family gatherings have changed dramatically or have been completely cancelled. I feel it is forbidden to travel to a local mall to take pictures with Santa every year. Some Jewish families plan to illuminate the main branch candlestick above the zoom. And religious service, such as that done on Jewish High Holy Days in September, is done outdoors, online, or with other modifications.

To feel safe and create something that resembles the holiday spirit, families are redefining traditions and rituals that they would not normally want to change.

A 39-year-old Talesha Savage, who lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, will not attend a big Thanksgiving feast with her extended family this year. Instead, three relatives visit her home and sample their favorite desserts quickly and socially away. Savage eats pound cake made every year in memory of her mother who died at the age of 9, and tastes her stepmother’s chocolate “ooey gooey” cake. The center has a half-cooked brownie-like taste.

“I have a different way of thinking about things,” she said. “How do we maintain tradition, but add a twist to it?”

Initially, she said that such an abbreviated celebration prospect left her feeling “very sad and lonely.” She and her extended family usually spend a lot of time together, and she misses them.

However, with the increasing number of cases of coronavirus these days, she is beginning to feel reassured that she has decided to prioritize safety and avoid events that could bring her family together and become a superspreader. It was.

She added that focusing on Thanksgiving desserts also means significantly less work, less stress, and less travel to stores.

“One of the things Covid had to do to me was to have more presence and be at that moment,” she said. “I really had the opportunity to slow down.”

In some areas, families need to follow new state rules when developing vacation plans.

In New York, private indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. In California, state leaders told residents not to meet with people outside the household and to resist visiting relatives during the holidays. And on Monday, Washington banned indoor meetings with people from multiple households (unless participants meet certain quarantine or testing requirements).

40-year-old Alexandra Gunnoe, who lives in Seattle, plans to visit her parents on Christmas Eve. (Her family is quarantined for two weeks and pre-tested for Covid-19.) Usually, her extended family jumps in so that everyone can spend Christmas together. And her children (7 and 17 months old) usually met their friends throughout December. But this year I had to improvise and find a variety of activities.

“Roughly, I think the big picture is to deal with this for a year and be able to control it. If it saves lives, I feel it’s all,” she said. ..

Many families remain cautious, even in some countries where indoor meetings are not restricted. Christa Kerns, 40, who lives in Missoula, Montana, said she hasn’t seen her family-in-law since last year’s Thanksgiving, despite seeing each other on FaceTime.

Kerns, her husband, and their two children will be broadcasting a Thanksgiving talent show on Zoom, as they will not be able to visit their relatives this year. She wants her extended family to attend the show, but some of them “may need some coercion,” she said.

“It feels good in the sense that everyone is doing the right thing, so when it’s safe to be together, we’ll all be there,” she said.

Dimitris Xigaratus, an associate professor of anthropology and psychology at the University of Connecticut and a 20-year ritual study, finds it important to find new ways to create stability and connections, especially during a pandemic. Said.

The predictable and rigorous nature of the ritual helps relieve anxiety and form social bonds, he added.

“This is exactly the time when we need these rituals and traditions more than ever, and exactly when we can’t have them. It creates a lot of extra anxiety,” said Dr. Xygalatas. Said.

Even before the pandemic, people were changing the way they spend their vacations. Harvard Business School professor Mike Norton, who works on books on daily life rituals, says he hasn’t participated in religious rituals as much as he used to, as more and more people are being identified as atheists or agnostics in recent years. I will.

“It’s because people don’t want rituals, but people obviously do because they’re creating all sorts of new rituals, like yoga and spin classes,” Dr. Norton said. It was.

And in his lifetime, milestones like the birth of a new child or marriage will not only change who we celebrate, but often the way we celebrate, he added.

The sudden changes this year must be a little uncomfortable. However, holidays can still make you feel special.

The New York Times contributor Pooja Mahijani recently wrote about how to not celebrate the Hindu festival Diwali as usual. This year, her family mailed snacks instead of handing them to make new ones. There is a tradition of “planting bulbs in the backyard, blooming in the spring, and representing another year.” Despite the changes, she added that she wanted to experience the comfort and joy that Diwali brings.

Kelly Miller, whose daughter has left behind a hand-decorated mask and disinfectant for Santa, decided to incorporate a holiday ritual from her own childhood this year.

45-year-old Miller looked up the Sears catalog and carefully wrote down the item number and description of the toy he wanted. Her parents then burned the list in the fireplace. She was told that the smoke rising from the chimney would drift towards Santa’s house in the Arctic, magically conveying her wishes.

Miller’s daughter thinks it sounds like what Harry Potter does and is excited to give it a try. A win-win that allows families to skip annual trips to visit Santa directly.

“It’s kind of great,” Miller said. “This year was really helpful.”

Santa’s disinfectant?Family adapts to strange holiday season

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