By Kerianne Lawson, Chief Programs Officer, Beach Cities Health District
I love the holidays - the lights, the decorations, and of course the food. The community seems to sparkle in the dark winter nights. This year, in the midst of the worsening pandemic, it’s no wonder that we’re seeing people bring out their decorations earlier. We could all use more light and sparkle. The holidays are also a time to see family, but in 2020, seeing our families and friends is going to be different.
Many families have already been keeping up with their families via video calls from their “bubble,” sharing meals and seeing each other without spreading the virus. Those with younger children have likely had to explain to their kids that the reason grandma and grandpa are on the computer is because we’re trying to keep them safe during this pandemic. I think we had all hoped that if we did this diligently, we might be able to relax for the holidays and have our usual traditions. Thanks to worsening COVID-19 numbers, instead of gathering around the table with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, this year Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is saying that a safer choice is to have a laptop at the table with your immediate family and visit with your relatives on a video call.
Also on the County’s “naughty” list for holiday activities are caroling, holiday carnivals or festivals, visits with shopping mall Santas or activities that do not allow everyone to maintain six feet of physical distancing from non-household members.
So how do we celebrate in a virtual environment?
Some “nice” options suggested by the County include online parties/contests (e.g. Holiday meal, tree trimming); drive-through events where individuals remain in their vehicles and drive through an area with holiday displays; drive-in events where individuals drop off or pick up toys or other donations; holiday movie nights at drive-in theaters; live performances or concerts done at drive-in theaters; and holiday-themed meals at outdoor restaurants (events at theaters, restaurants or other establishments must comply with the appropriate public health guidance).
Another virus-free way to enjoy the holidays is to watch a holiday-themed movie or schedule a holiday “teleparty” with family or friends. NPR just posted this list of holiday movies from Hallmark, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Lifetime, OWN, Hulu, Netflix, TV One, Bounce and BET, so you can find whatever you might be looking for.
In addition to these virtual activities, decorating homes and yards with holiday lights and displays is still permitted. In some areas, it’s happening earlier, and maybe bigger, than usual. Buying a Christmas tree is going to be different in 2020. Tree lots must comply with the Department of Public Health’s retail establishment protocol and may not have amusement park or carnival-type activities such as rides, face painting, petting zoos, food service, bounce houses or visits with Santa that are closer than six feet. But, even with these changes, they’re sure to have a festive pine to fit your decorating needs.
The little ones can get in on the decorating fun with some holiday coloring cards. There are a few available at https://www.bchd.org/holidaycards.
This year's holiday season will certainly be different and maybe some of these zoom parties with family and friends who are far away will become new traditions. Thanks to ingenuity and technology, we can still enjoy the season with our loved ones and support the health of our community.