COVID-19 Brings Change to the Way LHS Students and Staff Celebrate the Holidays

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Like many things in 2020, how students and faculty members at Livermore High School will be spending their holidays this year will be different. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdown and restrictions, holiday plans for this year have been changed, or have remained unchanged, for several families. LHS students and administration share how their holidays will be different this year.

LHS Principal Helen Gladden said her plans have changed quite a bit for the holiday season. Typically, at the celebration that Gladden attends, around 20 people attend. Out of concern for protecting herself and her loved ones, Gladden said that “This year it will be my husband, me, and our dogs.” 

While this is quite a change from such a large gathering, Gladden said, “We understand why it has to be this way. Still, it is very hard on my mother, who is 86. I wish she could still enjoy the usual family celebration.” Gladden said that what she will miss most about the previous years’ celebrations is time spent with family and loved ones.

Sarah Kerling (12) is celebrating the holidays with a huge baking day, surrounded by her immediate family. “It is weird not seeing my extended family for the first time in almost ever. But my family is like a big group of goof balls, so I don’t really mind,” explained Kerling.

As for how Kerling and her family are feeling as a result of the changes COVID-19 has brought, she said, “These changes have made me and my family feel kind of off, but we are going to continue to stay safe, and not go against the rules.”

“[My family and I] have definitely gotten closer…I’ve learned many things about my family members. Me and my mom have gotten closer by working out in the house together, which makes me happy!” Kerling continued. 

Lily Cartwright (12) explained that she is definitely missing the way the holidays were before the pandemic. 

Cartwright said, “The thing I will miss the most this Christmas is playing in my club rugby team’s annual touch-rugby game…Afterwards, we have a big ‘white elephant’ party with some of the most ridiculous gifts I have ever seen. I look forward to it so much…so many of my friends are [usually] home from college [during this time]. It’s just something that nobody ever misses.”

Cartwright said that she is also missing seeing family members, many of whom annually visit California during this time of year. “Ever since I could remember, my great aunt has come to visit from the reservation for New Years, which I always look forward to.”

“[My aunt] is one of my favorite people in the whole world — it’s also a trip that she enjoys because she loves California and seeing the ocean is like her favorite thing.”

Roxanna Mohammed, one of LHS’s Vice Principals, has had several events for this year canceled and postponed, and the winter holiday season is no different.  Earlier this year, Mohammed and her family, “had to postpone our travel plans for the year, which included South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Botswana.” In addition, she and her family also had to postpone trips to Mexico and the Caribbean. 

This winter, rather than spend the season with her family members, they have elected to instead “take pictures of our decorations and send it to each other,” a practice which she and her family used for birthdays earlier this year as well. Despite the connection her family members have through technology, Mohammed is missing the ability to spend time with her nieces.

Patrick Harvey (12) has definitely felt the effects of COVID-19 in relation to his holiday traditions. Harvey said, “I’m definitely missing out on the only family gatherings we have each year for my extended family, which definitely sucks.”

However, Harvey said he is attempting to look at the bright side of things during these times. He explained, “As long as everyone is safe and healthy, it doesn’t matter…I’ve found new outlets, friends, and other things to help me cope with the changes and try my best to just live life while this whole thing is happening.” 

Brett Christopher, an LHS Vice Principal, has found that his holiday plans have remained unchanged overall. Christopher said that he and his family, “are not the type of family to travel much or to do anything big and crazy over the holidays as it is.” Because of this, the family finds that a more relaxed holiday season is just fine by them. 

Christopher explained that he and his family are still looking forward to the holiday season, and spending time with one another.  “We will miss out on a few things this year,” Christopher said, “but nothing that is going to cause us to ‘humbug’ the holidays or be a Grinch about things.”

Despite the many changes COVID-19 has made to the way LHS students and staff spend their holidays, it seems as though many are making the most of this time and attempting to make the holiday season something positive for themselves and their families.  

Happy holidays, Cowboys.