Article by Arielle Goldman
Photo by Eliza Goldman
We wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, we wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy new year! These jolly and optimistic lyrics were sung in December of 2019 as people busily shopped in crowded malls and sipped hot chocolate elbow to elbow with their close friends. Menorahs, trees, and snowflakes beautified the chilly town of Armonk as holiday songs brightened every person’s mood. Last year in December of 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, though faces were a little more dreary and a little less hopeful, the holidays continued to spark loads of joy as families improvised ways to connect with distant family members and continue long-lasting holiday traditions either virtually or in a new and exciting way.
To celebrate the holidays, families continued to decorate their homes and maintain a cheerful environment despite the inability to gather with or travel to their remote loved ones. For example, Morgan Aronsky, a junior, claimed, “Every night of Hanukkah my family ate dinner in the dining room and FaceTimed my sister in college while lighting the menorah. We also connected virtually with my extended family on the fourth night, which was a really special experience.” Her younger sister additionally “made each person in the family a drawing every night.” Therefore, the Aronsky household was able to continue their beautiful holiday traditions even though they did not experience the joy of an in-person holiday gathering. Similarly, Julia Lucchino, a junior, had a lovely Christmas experience that greatly differed from her traditions of the past. She stated, “This was my first time in a while not going away for Christmas, so I was able to set up a Christmas tree and put on lights and ornaments with my family. It was especially great since I was able to celebrate with my dad, who usually is not with us on the holidays since he usually stayed home to work.” The at-home holidays allowed families to spend quality time with one another while indulging in traditions they did not realize they enjoyed. Mrs. Lewick, a history teacher, also had a delightful holiday experience while virtually connecting through Zoom with her family. On the call, she excitedly claimed that they “shared [their] favorite presents with each other” and had a very nice Christmas morning. Eliza Goldman, a junior, participated in another exciting activity during the holiday to bask in the season. With her mom, they drove around nearby towns and neighborhoods examining the lights and gorgeous decorations. She declared, “It was honestly really special to see such beauty in dark times. You don’t need a lot in life, and it was really great to spend time with my mom as we listened to holiday tunes and stood awestruck by the beauty of the lights.”
New Year’s was also a celebration like no other year as Times Square was limited in capacity, and parties were nearly nonexistent. Teenagers shouted “Happy New Year!” in unison with their siblings and snoring parents instead of their close friends, yet many continued to have a great New Year watching the New York City performances and drinking sparkling cider. Hallie Gordon stated, “My family and I made pizzas together and watched the ball drop, which was super fun. In the past, I was either travelling or dancing with my friends at midnight, and it turned out to be very special to watch the New Year begin through my parents’ eyes, which was something I had not seen since I was younger.”
While the holiday season was out of the ordinary, the joyful spirit was not crushed by the pandemic, and families were able to participate in entertaining and fun traditions that led them to possibly appreciate the holidays more than they did in the past.