NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Students, staff members plan for pandemic holidays

No matter what your typical traditions may entail, this holiday season is most definitely going to look a little different this year. With the aim to keep family members and loved ones safe, many people are avoiding huge family parties or going out at all.

“This year’s going to be really different for my family, actually,” says NECC student, Emma Kallery. “Usually, I spend Christmas Eve with my mom’s side and Christmas Day with my dad’s (with around 15 people present for each day), but with everything going on this year, we all made the decision to stay home and celebrate within our own houses.”

Many other people have had to make difficult decisions like Kallery and since a large part of Christmas involves being close to the ones we love, people like Isabella Behm, who “…haven’t felt like it’s ‘that time of year,” are left with Zoom calls and curbside pickups to try and replace the once ‘jolly’ holiday.

For some, the inability to visit family is much more taxing.

“On Thanksgiving night two years ago (2018), after our usual gathering of the whole family, my dad fell ill and passed away two nights later. That’s one reason my sisters and I didn’t like the idea of nobody seeing my mom in person for Thanksgiving, ” NECC professor Dave Rattigan says.

“Originally, my teenage daughter and I were going to go over and sit at the other end of a long table from my mother, but I had contact with someone who had Covid so spent the whole week in self quarantine. My only contact with Mom came when she packed up a turkey dinner and I picked it up off her porch like a ransom drop.

“With cases escalating, I’m not sure about Christmas. One sister and her two adult kids are planning to self-quarantine for two weeks and go see my mother. I’m probably going to end up with another dinner-to-go from my mother’s porch.”

Being alone for the holidays has become somewhat the norm this year, and while this statement in of itself is a depressing one, it gives people something to bond over; a similarity between us all that will fuel the drive to hopefully make the get-togethers and parties of Christmas future worth waiting for.

In the meantime, students like Shaun Hood are making an effort to do the most within our current situation. “I even figured out how to play music in a Zoom meeting!” Hood exclaims, referring to his plans to meet his family via Zoom this Christmas.

“Hopefully things will get better in the new year and we can visit our relatives then,” says another NECC student, Greg Lagasse.

It is the constant reassurance of our own selves and others that things will indeed be good again, but rather than dreaming of ‘going back’ to normal, I believe we should try and ‘push ahead’ to something even better.

2020 has taught us all many valuable life lessons, one of which is the importance and values of a community. We’ve all learned so much about ourselves and one another through this pandemic that we can now attempt to take what we’ve learned and grow from here.