Holidays during the pandemic

Individuals, families and institutions are reimagining the holiday season, stretching from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Regardless of how people typically celebrate the holidays, everyone may need to alter their traditions this year due to canceled events and new stay-at-home restrictions. 

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker has implemented new COVID-19 restrictions that will affect holiday gatherings and traveling. Baker announced that anyone who leaves the state must quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before arriving in Massachusetts. Everyone in the state over the age of five must wear a mask in public, no matter the distance to anyone else. All gatherings must end by 9:30 p.m., and everyone must be in their homes from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. 

At Dana Hall, after Thanksgiving break the entire school will participate in a distance learning model the week of November 30 to December 4. All faculty and students are required to have a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. After Thanksgiving, local remote students will have the option to return to the hybrid learning model if they wish. There will also be a week of entirely distance learning after winter break. 

With the new state restrictions, only ten people can gather inside and 25 people can gather outside. Maggie Noone ’21 said that, while normally she and her family members gather at her grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, “now we are all eating dinner at our own houses and going to her house for dessert and eating it outside while socially distant.” 

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, an annual event that for many Americans marks the beginning of the holiday season, took place this year for the 94th time, but in a very different format. Viewers watched all pre-recorded performances. The flying of the balloons was live from outside the Macy’s flagship store in New York City. Repeat parade watchers noticed that a key part of the parade, the human balloon handlers, were missing as this year all balloons were handled by vehicles instead. Phoebe Frechette ’22, who was at the Macy’s Day Parade last year, noted that “The human balloon handlers are such a key part of the parade so it is sad to know that they will not be dressed up this year, handing out candy and waving.”

IHeart Radio’s Jingle Ball is a concert that many tweens are sad to miss this year. While an in-person concert was not in the cards for this year, iHeart Radio, in collaboration with artists like Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Shawn Mendes and Lewis Capaldi, is moving the concert to be a fully virtual event on December 10. Artists will be videoed apart, and the program will be edited together. Admission to this event is free.

Something that will stay the same this year regardless of the pandemic is gift giving throughout the holiday season. However, this year it is more important than ever to think ahead due to the slower shipping that has come with COVID- 19. United Parcel Service warns that December 15 is the last day to ship gifts out (with ground shipping) with guaranteed delivery by December 24.  

At Dana Hall, the Turkey Boxes, through which the School community contributes to Thanksgiving dinners for the food pantry clients of the Union United Methodist Church in Boston, did not happen this year due to the pandemic. Thanksgiving Convocation, which is usually a time where the whole school gathers together in Bardwell, took place virtually on November 20 during an All-School Meeting. The junior class play, Revels, will be completely virtual this year.

Image: An Old World Christmas holiday ornament, featured in Yahoo! Finance.

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