Dec 11, 2020 | NEWS | By Leah Thayer | Photo by Patil Khakhamian

Hear from six Colorado College students about how they plan to safely celebrate the holidays amid rapidly rising COVID-19 cases around the nation.

It’s no secret that the holiday season is looking pretty different this year. As the COVID-19 pandemic is currently worsening to all-time-high case numbers in almost every U.S. state, according to the CDC, many people have had to pivot their normal holiday plans.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, health experts continue to urge citizens to strictly uphold protocols like mask-wearing, social distancing, and limiting travel as much as possible. With this in mind, we reached out to some CC students to see how they’re going about holiday planning during the pandemic.

Margaux Rose ’21 expressed her discomfort with the holiday season. “I’m pretty stressed about Christmas. While I really want to see my family, I don’t feel like it’s responsible to fly across the country right now,” Rose told us. “Beyond that I’m very grateful that my family and friends are still healthy and happy.” Rose’s struggle is something many students at CC and around the country can likely relate to — caught in a decision between being with loved ones over the holidays or choosing instead to prioritize public health.

Stress and gratitude are two very different emotions, but many students are undoubtedly feeling them simultaneously as we enter into the holidays during a global pandemic.

“I found it really difficult to decide what to do for the holidays … Safely spending time with my family means sacrificing time spent with my friends,” said Justine Miller ’21. Alarmed by the rise in COVID-19 cases in El Paso County early on last month, Miller decided to drive 15 hours back home, so she could safely spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family. After making the difficult decision to return home early, Miller also made sure to get tested beforehand and quarantine for several days after traveling.

Miller recognizes that such sacrifices have been common for many over the last eight months and adds that above all the stress, she feels grateful and humbled. “This pandemic has made me realize how many things I usually take for granted around the holidays and how I am much more grateful for the little things this year,” said Miller.

Even though cases nationwide continue to rise, concrete travel restrictions remain low in many states and some students feel comfortable traveling, as they plan to mitigate risk as much as possible through testing and quarantine periods. Brigitte Arcoite ’24 plans to fly home at the end of the semester. “I’ll just make sure to quarantine at home until I receive [negative] test results,” says Arcoite. 

Similarly, Westly Joseph ’21 was able to fly home for the holidays, but she hasn’t let her guard down as far as keeping herself and her family healthy. Joseph said she plans to wear a mask in her house until receiving a negative test result over three days after flying — the CDC recommends this kind of testing protocol as a way to account for the virus’ incubation period. 

Amanda Lake ’24 plans to be home-bound and only interacting with a small number of close family this holiday. “This year I am staying home for the holidays … We are having a smaller gathering of only 10 people instead of 20-30,” said Lake. 

Amidst all the uncertainty and change that we have all grown used to during 2020, it’s no wonder we’re all craving some semblance of a normal holiday season. Katie Hands ’21 is finding creative ways to safely enjoy the holidays with family.

“I’m hoping to continue my lifelong Christmas Eve tradition of getting together with my cousins and exchanging secret Santa gifts, but this time, outside with masks on and maybe on the [private] ice rink or by a bonfire,” said Hands. Regardless of how her plans work out, Hands is feeling thankful to have been able to return home and be with close family over the holidays.

Despite the uncertainty and stress brought on by this year’s unique holiday season, students are above all grateful for the happiness and health of friends and family, as now more than ever, the holiday season is a time to be grateful for the little things.

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