A Guide to Getting through the Holidays: Pandemic Version

By Louie Chung
I’m pretty sure I’ve been living the same day over and over again in an endless loop of Zooms and Google Meets. The only indication that it is Christmastime is the snow falling outside my window at the moment. But it doesn’t feel like Christmas. There seems to be significantly fewer holiday decorations around the neighborhood. The only hint of a winter wonderland was the sprinkle of snow we got for twenty minutes last week. Even the legendary Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is a scraggly letdown. It’s almost as if the world is saying “Bah Humbug!” to the holidays. With COVID cases reaching an all-time high and traditional holiday celebrations out of the question, it is tempting to just write off 2020 as one of the worst years in recent memory and enter hibernation until the new year. But hasn’t enough been taken from us? Are we going to let the pandemic stop us from showing love and gratitude with our friends and family? Here are some tips to end 2020 with a holiday bang!

Get yourself in the holiday spirit

First things first, put up your Christmas tree. Do we really need to do that this year? It’s such a hassle and we’re just gonna take it down in a couple weeks, what’s the point? Listen, I’m no scientist but there’s just something about seeing a tree decked out with festive Christmas lights and the ornaments that you and your siblings made in grade school that encapsulates the holiday spirit perfectly. 
Run a quick brain scan on Christmas and see what memories or feelings you associate with the holidays. Does your mind go to horrendous Christmas sweaters? Baking cookies for Saint Nick? Blasting Mariah Carey loud enough for the elves at the North Pole to hear? Don’t stop yourself from doing the ‘basic’ traditions; there is comfort to be found in simplicity. However, if you are fed up with the monotony that quarantine brought, Christmas 2020 is the perfect opportunity for a holiday season reset. Go ice-skating for the first time, build a fire and plan an outdoor hot cocoa event, be that house with the crazy Christmas decorations. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try things you never thought you would. 

Activities for the individual

For my thriller/mystery lovers: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. A masterclass by the “Queen of Crime” herself, Agatha Christie, this novel is the perfect fix for the people craving some mystery, murders, and secrets.
For people in need of a laugh: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. This collection of essays is a reminder to not take the holiday season so seriously. A long way away from the traditional heart-warming Christmas tale, this comical collection is a god-send to fans of the cynically dark genre of humor. 
For the nostalgics: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. A truly timeless classic inspiring thousands of adaptations, A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old man by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge learning the true value of Christmas through the paranormal visits of the Christmas Past, Present, and Future. If you haven’t read the original work by Charles Dickens, I recommend you immediately purchase a copy or search for the pdf. A perfect read for Christmas ‘20, this heartwarming novel is guaranteed to get you out of the quarantine grumpies and straight into the holiday spirit.  
If you love cheating spouses, dancing prime ministers, and some genuinely good love stories, Love Actually is the movie for you. The first rom-com I’ve watched that can unironically call itself a comedy, this uproarious film follows the romantic journey of nine couples, each with its own unique twist. While it is a bit hard to follow at times, you develop an emotional attachment for each character, a concept that would not be possible if not for its incredibly talented and charismatic cast featuring Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson, and Hugh Grant. 
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. There is no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than a night spent watching Elf (aka the greatest Christmas movie of all time in my humble opinion). You come for Will Ferrell in an elf costume and you stay for the surprisingly heart-warming story of Buddy the elf reconnecting with his biological family and finding love. A timeless classic that charms the stockings right off the fireplace, this film is an essential to watch during the holiday season.
A movie to watch with the whole family, you can’t go wrong with It’s a Wonderful Life. Watching this will make you think you have a bipolar personality, switching from laughter to tears back to laughter more times than you can count. A cult favorite that is beautifully shot and written with a talented cast delivering unforgettable performances, It’s a Wonderful Life will make you call up your friends and family and let them know how much they mean to you—and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
To Zoom or Not to Zoom?
Listen, I understand the Zoom fatigue. I seriously consider throwing my laptop out my window twenty times a day, too. But this is the best alternative to see your loved ones, especially the ones at higher risk like your grandparents. Spice things up with some creative use of the virtual hangout function: throw a Secret Santa event, cook interesting recipes together, or host a fierce gingerbread competition online. If there’s one thing we can take from the pandemic, it is that maintaining the relationships in our lives fully depends on the effort we put into it. We call the shots. If spending time with your friends and family sounds like the ideal Christmas scenario, feel free to plan and organize a virtual event. 
But if the mere mention of Zoom is enough to turn you into Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s okay to skip out on the virtual hangouts. The holiday break is first and foremost a break, and we’re all going through our own problems and struggles. At the end of the day, if all you want to do is brew a nice cup of hot cocoa, read a nice book, and stare out the window at the pretty snow, then be my guest. Do what makes you happy. 

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Christmas. I’d start listening to Christmas music in the summer, set up the Christmas tree and stockings as soon as the Thanksgiving dinner was off the table, and stay up on Christmas Eve to get a glimpse of Santa. But now, it’s two weeks into December and I haven’t even found time to put up my Christmas tree yet. Maybe it’s because of the stress and work from junior year, maybe it’s because of the terrible year we’ve all had, but whatever the reason, Christmas has lost a smidge of its holiday charm. However, with the limited resources at our disposal, we can still try to end this year on a high note. I once heard Christmas being described as a season of perpetual hope. For the sake of our loved ones, our community, and ourselves, let’s not give up on 2020 just yet and hope a little longer.