Junior Ben Taylor knows better than anyone how drastically holiday plans have changed this year, and while COVID-19 has altered the holidays in different ways for everyone, Ben has had a whirlwind experience with planning for the season.
“My family’s Christmas plans have been all over the place this year,” Ben said. “At first we were just going to stay isolated for Christmas, but [due to] the fact that we all got COVID-19, we now have an official ninety days of immunity. My brother is the last man standing still with symptoms, but once he tests negative, we are basically free to safely do whatever we want. Our plans have definitely opened up all of the sudden.”
Ben and his family all tested positive for COVID-19 and have been quarantined for four weeks, but by the time Christmas comes, they will safely be able to go about their plans as usual. This immunity came as a pleasant surprise and is quite possibly the only positive thing that came out of getting the virus for him.
Although this new-found freedom is something Ben knows he is very lucky to have, especially for this upcoming break, it has not always been such an easy road in order to finally get to this point of safety. However, the fact that his family self-isolated as soon as they started to feel symptoms coming on definitely made their lives easier.
“As soon as we started showing symptoms, we quarantined,” Ben said. “So when our COVID-19 cases were confirmed, we didn’t have to make any of those unfortunate ‘Hey, we gave you covid phone calls,’ so that was definitely helpful in the sense that it made our lives a lot less awkward.”
Ben’s situation is extremely unique, but just as COVID-19 has taught him how to adapt to an ever-changing situation. As research advances, Ben believes in listening to it to celebrate safely this holiday season.
“For some people, I feel like the idea of this immunity can be hard to grasp,” Ben said. “Honestly, I don’t even really completely understand it myself, but all I know is that the same people that told us to self isolate within our house are the ones who are telling us that we can’t spread or re-receive COVID for ninety days, so I trust them and their science behind it.”
Agreeing with the science behind COVID-19 is a common theme among students as they want to protect their friends, families, and anyone they come into contact with.
Senior Taylor Baumgardner agrees with Ben in many ways, but the main thing they both have in common is prioritizing their families as well as following the proper protocol that the scientists are telling us to do.
“My family is extremely COVID-19 conscious,” Taylor said, “because my grandpa is a doctor, and we believe in science. We want to do good for the whole community, and even though people in my household may not be at risk, we know COVID-19 affects a lot more than just us and our lifestyle.”
Due to the extra precautions that Taylor and her family are taking, their Christmas seasons could not look more different because of COVID-19.
Taylor went from having six Christmas celebrations with all her extended family in one day to having an at-home, isolated Christmas with just her direct family of five people.
“Our plans have changed completely this year in every way possible,” Taylor said. “We will not be seeing anybody in our family this year. Our priority is the care and well being of all of our family, so because of that, we are just staying home in our smaller family unit, which we have never done before on Christmas.”
This modification has been one of the biggest adjustments of 2020 for Taylor. She and her family’s typical busy lifestyle pre-COVID made staying home this Christmas with none of their regular family traditions a substantial change to say the least.
However, she has taken on this obstacle and has been able to grow with her family through these trying times, and, nowadays, any improvement should be celebrated.
“Before COVID-19, we all lived very busy lifestyles,” Taylor said. “Our house was in a constant state of chaos, but it was always fine because we were able to leave the chaos whenever necessary, but with quarantine, that wasn’t an option. So, in certain ways, I would say COVID-19 and being stuck inside has brought us closer together in the sense that we can all be in the same room without getting angry, which is very comforting. I guess we were able to find comfort in the chaos that is our home.”
Along with Taylor, senior Abigail Cool has also been able to find some comfort in the smaller joys that this at-home holiday season has given her.
One of those major comforts to Abigail is that despite having made the very conscious decision to stay home this Christmas season—especially when prioritizing the health and wellbeing of their older family members—they have still managed to set up many ways to stay connected.
“Since my family is not getting together physically this year,” Abigail said, “instead of meeting up together, we did a Zoom call, and we planned it out so my grandma could be there. One really cool thing that we did was bake together. Normally my grandma would bring these amazing and delicious desserts to Thanksgiving; usually, that would be fine, but we couldn’t do that this year, so instead, the night before Thanksgiving, we did a Zoom call where we made different recipes. It was really nice because, honestly, it helped us bond with her.”
Finding these new and innovative ways to bond with family, such as Zoom, has been a common theme this Christmas. Changes such as these are things everyone has had to adapt to.
However, even though Ben is immune, Taylor is staying home with her family of five, and Abigail is baking on Zoom with her grandma, all these people—although appearing to be very different—have one thing in common: keeping their families safe always, especially through this holiday season.
“Christmas has always been really important to me,” Taylor said. “It signifies family and just togetherness. Even though I don’t get to physically see my family this year, I honestly feel closer to them more than ever because I know we are all just looking out for each other.”