COVID-19 doesn’t have to be the Grinch that steals Christmas: here’s how to enjoy the holiday season with your family and friends VIA pandemic-friendly activities Izzy Feldman

With the COVID-19 pandemic still not under control and a vaccine yet to be distributed to most, people across the country are opting out of large gatherings and long-standing traditions for the first time ever, in an effort to keep loved ones and other people's loved ones safe this holiday season. To quote David Cottrell, "doing the right thing isn't always easy– in fact, sometimes it's real hard." For many, truly being there for their family and friends will look like not being there physically.

Whether you are a family of four who is keeping Christmas small this year, and declining an invitation from the grandparents or you are living away from your parents for the first time and won't be making the trip home for Hanukah festivities, everyone is grieving the lost time with relatives and the celebrations that will inevitably have to be postponed.

Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, there is an overwhelming sense of loss and of grief present, but just as there are those things, there are also opportunities for love, light, and a little bit of holiday cheer. Here are a few activities to keep up your spirits this holiday season that are pandemic friendly!

The first and perhaps most obvious activity to keep you busy this holiday season is to go out with those you're quarantined with, or maybe by yourself, and get a Christmas tree. There are tons of Christmas tree farms operating right now, with social distancing rules in effect. Of course, if you do decide to get a Christmas tree, make sure you take all of the necessary precautions in doing so and most importantly, wear a mask! Plus, if you have the ability now is a great time to support smaller businesses such as Christmas tree farms.
No tree is complete without decorations. This Christmas is decorated with festive ornaments, including colorful balls and a happy, little Snowman! After you pick up your Christmas tree, grab a box of ornaments and start decorating!
If you are missing your friends and family from around different parts of the country, or even the globe, there are quite a few activities you could do to stay connected to them. Consider sending your close friends and/or family members a holiday card, or maybe even a letter letting them know what you have been up to and that you are thinking of them. This is a great way to show someone you care and it spreads some holiday cheer. This picture is of a holiday card sent to my house from my high school, on it are the some of faces of some of my closest friends.
Another good way to pass the time? Retail therapy, and for a good cause or maybe, give a gift that can't be bought. Now is the perfect time to send a gift to someone who has brought you love and peace throughout the chaos of 2020. Whether you send something homemade or purchase an item from your friend's favorite store, wrapping and mailing gifts is a COVID friendly way to give back to those who mean so much to you.
Speaking of gift giving, if you are looking to purchase some items for your friends and family consider buying from small businesses. This image is a screenshot of an article from Refinery 29. The article, "The best holiday gifts come in small (business) packages" lists some great, smaller scale sites to shop from this year. And you can do it from the comfort of your own home, no mask needed!
If you have at least one other person by your side this holiday season, this is a great time for you to sit down one on one of them and play a game. Pictured here are my brother and sister, Ethan Feldman and Tasha Feldman, sitting by the tree playing a game of chess.
Another great idea is to throw a party with your friends. Now, it won't quite look the same as years prior, and there may be some technology glitches, but calls over Zoom can provide you that sense of fulfillment and connection you may belonging for in this period of necessary isolation. Pictured here are my friends and I dressed in Christmas hats and sweaters, exchanging our secret Santa gifts virtually. This is such a fun way to stay connected!
In my hometown of Pottstown, PA there a lot of different places holding drive-in Christmas movie events. Here at The Sunnybrook Ballroom parking lot, the movie "A Santa Clause" was being broadcasted on a large screen for families from the area to park near and watch. You and your family can watch the movie from your car a safe distance away, while still enjoying all of the fun.
If you take my advice on the drive-in movie, make sure you come prepared with snacks! I made sure to bring popcorn and candy for the movie.
Next to the drive in movie location, were festive lights to drive through. Another great activity this holiday season is to drive around in your neighborhood with your family or whoever you're spending this season with, and to look at Christmas lights. It'll put you in the holiday spirit I promise!

If you'd rather stay at home, there are plenty of holiday movies to choose from on TV!

If you're up for it, there are options to screen a holiday Yule log on your TV! Certain videos can even play with Christmas songs in the background, this one in particular was playing to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman" !


Isabelle Feldman