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Grieving Your Usual Holiday Traditions? This Year Won’t Be Business as Usual

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by Leslie Farin

It’s November, and Covid-19 is still a “thing”

It did not occur to me in early 2020 when the world first shut down that Covid-19 would still be a “thing” at the end of the year. But here it is November, and the virus still affects all of our lives. Alot. We cancelled our traditional plans for the upcoming holidays with the usual suspects and tried to convince ourselves it’s no big deal. The truth is, it is a big deal. Many of us mourn the loss of our traditions as we revamp our plans in an effort to keep everyone healthy and safe.

Holiday plans are not business as usual in 2020

It’s complicated this year. Sixty percent of respondents to Travelocity’s 2020 Holiday Outlook survey don’t plan to travel to see family and friends on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. And one in three of that group say they have no plans to celebrate at all. Others plan to use their vacation days for travel to a location where they can drive to have a non-traditional holiday. Rural Airbnb hosts report huge surges in bookings as people look for places to go where they can escape the coronavirus.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Reimagined

Covid-19 impacts all of us and in many different ways. I was not too surprised or upset when I heard plans for the 94th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, one of the world’s most beloved event and a personal favorite, underwent drastic changes. The scaled back version promises to be an event full of warmth and joy, as always. The major difference this year is no spectators are allowed, which does not affect our family as we traditionally watch the parade on television anyway to avoid the crowds in the city.

Even Santa is not safe from the virus

For the first time since 1861, Santa won’t greet children at the Macy’s flagship store in New York this year. This change hit me harder than the Thanksgiving Day Parade changes. I truly love the holiday windows, the Christmas lights and the beauty of “Santaland” at Macy’s in NY. Like death and taxes, Santa Claus was a fixture at Macy’s every year from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. It’s a happy tradition that people of all religions flocked to New York City to enjoy during the holidays. 

Sadly, Santa Claus does not plan to be at Macy’s this holiday season. It makes sense, since shoppers and tourists are not in New York milling about as usual either.  Santaland will still happen, but will be virtual. It is a major, but necessary change, and lets anyone interested to participate from home from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. Macy’s chose to make the best of a bad situation, and I applaud them, but still I grieve the loss of this long-time tradition. 

holidays 2020 covid

Lifestyle changes due to Covid-19 impact holiday celebrations in unexpected ways

In their “Peak to Recovery” survey, U.S. consumers said many of their habits and behaviors changed during the pandemic. In fact, 55% believe the crisis was a good opportunity to make healthier lifestyle choices. Americans discovered or rediscovered activities they say they plan to continue.  Cooking, spending time with family, regular exercise and gardening were among the activities mentioned in the survey.

So, not only do we need to rethink our travel, event and family plans for the 2020 holiday season, but also our gift ideas for loved ones. People have new interests, hobbies and lifestyle habits many which we want to encourage. Thoughtful presents that reflect these changes provide new options for unique and useful gifts for that hard-to-buy-for loved one. Retail stores, which struggled before the pandemic, are even less popular now; an overwhelming majority of shoppers plan to spend their time and money online this year.

This too shall pass

As Abraham Lincoln said in a speech before he became the sixteenth President of the United States, “This too shall pass”. For now, let’s accept the changes, acknowledge our feelings, grieve the loss of traditions and create new ones – at least for this year. The world is different now, and is not likely to go back to exactly the way it was. We will have a “new normal”, one that incorporates the lessons we learned from this difficult situation.

If you are grieving usual holiday traditions, I’m right there with you. For the record, though, I expect Santa to return to Macy’s for the holiday season next year in some shape or form.

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