Making Up Holiday Traditions

Holidays in the age of COVID

This will be the second year that my husband and I will not be going to see my father and sister for Christmas. Even though we’re vaccinated and boosted and wear our masks, we’re cautious, because you can’t unmake COVID happen once it’s been caught. We decided that the threat of the Omicron variant plus the nearness of our destination to Chicago (and with hordes of Chicagoans coming there) make it too risky. Plus my dad is in his 80s, and I don’t want to gift him with any pathogens.

Feeling a loss

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

Richard and I feel a loss when we look at past Christmases — staying in a cabin at Starved Rock Lodge, sitting in the Great Hall opening up presents, watching families pose for pictures by the massive fireplace. Wandering around the nearby cities of Ottawa and Utica, splitting a huge pork tenderloin sandwich at Canalport (my hometown area is known for these). Visiting my family and swapping stories. All the rituals around Christmas, lost. We don’t even have snow!

The loss of rituals left Richard grouchy last night when his work dinner was canceled due to COVID. He got to the bottom of his symptoms of stomping and sighing pretty quickly when he realized the cause (it’s always good to know yourself).

The need for new traditions

With 10 days until Christmas, we will devise a set of Christmas activities to make up for what we have lost. We already have traditions of watching Christmas movies and episodes in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We have stockings, and the cats have a stocking too which we will fill with catnip cat toys. We will cook an Italian meal for Christmas dinner (but not the seven fishes of the traditional Italian meal, thank goodness). We will watch A Christmas Story and check to see if there are any good Christmas Day movies at the local theater.

We may play with words, play games, play with our new toys (I know I’m getting a fountain pen for my collection) and eat a feast with leftovers. We’ll cuddle in front of our fake fireplace, look at the Christmas tree, and eat turron (a candy I’ve always wanted to share with Richard; it’s from Spain, and there are several varieties of it. We have four).

We will find new traditions.

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