How holidays have changed


Elysia Self, opinion editor

I do not need to tell you that this holiday season is unlike any other we’ve had before. The evidence of that is littered around us daily, with rising COVID numbers across the country, a government advisory to not gather with your family this year, and the overall sense of displacement that we’re all feeling. Days are getting shorter and darker, the first cold fronts have come and gone, and nothing has changed. Winter is famous for being the “sad season” and this will be no exception. So, what does that mean for us? How should we be celebrating with our families? Is it okay for us to feel such a sense of sadness in such a season of joy?

I am not an expert in psychology or families or anything for that matter, but I am a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, and a friend, and because I am these things I feel qualified to give you my experience, and hopefully it helps with yours.
I haven’t seen my grandparents since last summer. That is much longer than we’re used to and that we wanted to have to go. We decided that it had been long enough and we were going to proceed with our Thanksgiving as planned. My sister and I hopped on a plane and headed to Alabama.

Both my grandparents are older and high risk so we made this decision carefully like a family, keeping their safety at the forefront. Now having said this, I was absolutely terrified the entire time. We took all the preemptive precautions we could, but nothing is 100% guaranteed. The thought of whether or not I would potentially be responsible for them getting sick was easily the worst thing about the whole experience. However, seeing them in person and being able to hug them made it a little easier.

This was a choice that my family made, but that doesn’t mean that yours has to or even should. If they had already been sick or we had been exposed then we absolutely would not have gone through with it, so each circumstance is different.
If your family decided to celebrate Thanksgiving without the usual suspects, there are still ways to connect with your loved ones.

I know that so many families are struggling with making this same choice or feel bad that they did not want to risk getting sick. Everyone has a right to their own opinions and should never be judged or made to feel guilty for not doing something they are not comfortable with. Especially since all of us are back in school again, the added exposure poses a risk to everyone that you may come into contact with.

None of us necessarily want to be forced back into online learning, but we have to ask ourselves at what point do we have to prioritize our health and potential safety over our preferred learning methods? In my opinion it’s an issue of comfort more than anything.

Some students are not comfortable learning exclusively online, some teachers are not comfortable teaching online, and administrators do not want to deal with the immense obstacles that remote learning brings. All these things are completely understandable, however once we understand the issue we have a duty to try and fix it. Fixing these things is not a one person job. KMC wants to be, and largely is, all about community, which is how we need to approach these obstacles in order to grow from them. Uncertainty and being uncomfortable are completely valid things to feel right now. It is what you do with that feeling that matters.

Take this opportunity to maybe reflect a little bit and be grateful for the things you do have. Our community here at KMC, and even in America as a whole, is immensely better off than most of the world right now.
We have homes and people that love us and food on our tables, which is more than millions of people can say. Gratitude is powerful, it can give you joy in a time when you only feel alone. It really is, as absolute cliche as it sounds, the best way to approach those feelings of sadness and longing for a different outcome.

Personally, I am most thankful for all the people that love me. They teach me every day how to love myself and how lucky I am to have so many wonderful things in my life.

We are so beyond blessed that it can be hard to see outside our own bubble; to gain some perspective. When you do, it can make everything in your life seem that much better. I think that is what we all need right now. For everything to get a little better.

This is going to be a mentally challenging time, as this is for all of us, so lean on each other. Lean into the people that make you happy, that push you to be a better person. Give yourself the opportunity to say that you took what you had and made the very best out of it, that you were proud of the way you handled it, and you have no regrets.