A holiday season unlike any other

Julia McGann and Stephen Kirby

Via @GovMurphy on Twitter (Photo by Stephen Kirby)

As New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy warns of the second wave of coronavirus, holiday plans will be drastically affected. Murphy said, “The second wave of coronavirus is no longer something off in the future.” 

In a tweet from Nov.4, Murphy listed 43 states and territories that the CDC advised people to quarantine for 14 days when traveling from. Whether or not people will actually follow these guidelines for the holidays is unknown.

The months of November to January are typically filled with celebrations with friends and family, but this year will not be the same. With coronavirus cases on the rise, many are warning that these gatherings are exactly what we cannot have if we hope to contain this virus. Governor Murphy stated that many outbreaks have stemmed from indoor gatherings, a staple of the holiday season. 

“We urge you to not gather around the dining room table with anyone outside your immediate household. And if you do, to limit that reach to only a limited number of close relatives,” said Murphy.

When asked what qualified as one’s “immediate household,” state health department spokesperson Donna Leuner said it was limited to “those you come in contact with regularly. Generally, those you live with.” 

Westfield Mom Barbara Gruters took this advice into consideration when planning for the upcoming Thanksgiving. Gruters is seeing very few family members for a Thanksgiving gathering, and everyone attending is taking a rapid test beforehand to make sure they don’t have coronavirus. In addition, they are not seeing any family members that may have a compromised immune system. “Our family’s goal is to keep everyone safe right now,” said Gruters.  

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also advised against holiday gatherings. He even suggested that New Yorkers celebrate the holidays all virtually for now.

Some WHS students are heeding this advice and planning virtual holiday celebrations. WHS senior Parker Hanna said, “The sad part about this year is not being able to see my family that I don’t really get to see except for holidays. Even though my family is setting up a zoom call on Thanksgiving, it’s not the same.”

Governor Cuomo stated the best way to say I love you and say I’m thankful for you is to not endanger you or our family and friends. He said, “I think my personal advice is you don’t have family gatherings even for Thanksgiving.” 

The strict advice by officials may seem unfortunate to many, being that the holidays are traditionally celebrated with relatives and friends, but Westfield residents understand that they must make sacrifices. WHS senior Kait Alliegro said, “My parents are very scared to have family over because they don’t know who they have been exposed to, and traveling seems very irresponsible amidst the rise of coronavirus cases.”

Another WHS senior, Ellie Kate Brown, who is very concerned about holiday festivities this year said, “Since school is supposed to reopen right after Thanksgiving, my family doesn’t want to risk our ability to go back to in-person learning due to lack of precaution.”

Brown’s family is only celebrating with relatives near Westfield that have been following social distancing guidelines. This seems to be a trend among students and their families with regard to their holiday plans. 

Even though this holiday season will be different from any other, some families in the  Westfield community are determined to find safe alternatives to celebrate and keep the spirit of this season alive.