Holiday Spirit Remains Despite COVID-19 Restrictions

Leah Tyrrell, Editor

On a normal year, as Thanksgiving and the December holidays approach, the country prepares for a season of heavy traffic, packed stores, and booming businesses as people travel distances of all lengths to celebrate the holidays with their families and friends. However, it goes without saying that the pandemic has caused this year to be far from normal, and this holiday season is no exception to that rule.

One of, if not the most celebrated holiday in the United States is Thanksgiving. College students and adults alike travel all around the country, returning home to spend this day dedicated giving thanks with their families and loved ones. With the reduced capacity airlines are implementing combined with the many who chose to quarantine rather than risk getting their loved ones sick, airport traffic was nearly 250% lower than just last year.

The air travel industry is not the only one that saw significantly lower numbers this holiday season. Even though business still picked up on Black Friday, stores ranging from small businesses to large department stores did not experience anywhere near the size of the normal Black Friday crowds. The Mall of America in Minnesota, the busiest mall in the nation, reported that traffic was down nearly 80% from 2019. The plummet in sales of the shopping centers around the country was countered by a surge in online sales. Online shopping activity and income increased nearly 25% from last year’s stats, indicating that most replaced their in-person shopping with online shopping.

Along with affecting the country commercially, the virus also kept a lot of families separated during Thanksgiving. On a day that is almost entirely centered around surrounding yourself with your closest friends and family, the restrictions enforced by several colleges, nursing homes, and even bigger cities have either discouraged these gatherings or even completely preventing them. Most colleges have let students return home for the holidays but only under the conditions that they will not return to campus until the start of the second semester in late-January to early-February. Nursing homes have been extremely strict regarding the virus in order to protect the more-vulnerable elderly since the beginning of the outbreak. With most allowing just one family member visitor—some have even gone as far as completely closing their doors to any visitors—per patient, they made no exceptions during the holiday. Many patients couldn’t spend Thanksgiving with their children and grandchildren this year. On top of precautions enforced by institutions, governments around the nations have announced strong recommendations or even rules regarding Thanksgiving get-togethers. While some cities went as far as to use law enforcement to limit each household to having no more than ten people, others have asked residents and visitors to make sure they’ve tested negative before gathering along with other recommendations such as limiting the amount of talking and sharing dishes.

Despite the several hurdles the United States faced this year during the traditional American holiday, many still found a way to stay connected with their loved ones. Whether they actually visited or ate together over Zoom, families and friends refused to let the spirit of the holiday season be overshadowed by the virus.