Christmas is a time for joy and to spend time with our loved ones. It has always been a gastronomic event, accompanied by gift exchanges and excusable revelry. Not this time.
With the governor’s rule of five putting a limit on the number of relatives and friends we are allowed to get together with, families facing financial constraints amid an uncertain economic climate, and the threat of coronavirus not taking any holiday off, this year’s Christmas won’t be anything that we have always remembered.
“No,” said Martha M. Miller, a volunteer coordinator and homemaker, “There will be no Christmas party this year. We are sad about this but I want to keep my family safe.”
With the party police to consider, don’t even think about it. In October, the Guam Police Department reported it had responded to a total of 2,000 complaints related to social gatherings since Guam reverted to PCOR1. Under the Department of Public Health and Social Services’ guidelines, those found violating restrictions on social gathering face a fine of between $100 and $1,000.
Office parties are out of the question as well. If anything, holiday parties will be done the same way we have been doing office meetings — virtually via Zoom.
With the Covid-19 pandemic worsening and an alarming number of people being infected one way or another, Dec. 25 will definitely be a quiet affair.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to consider modifying their holiday plans to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
“We will mainly celebrate in spirit and in our hearts, concentrating on the spiritual aspect of the Christmas season and remembering the very reason of the season,” said Paulo Chua, an assistant operations manager at Guam International Country Club.
For Lacey Callaghan, a substitute teacher, nothing will be different this year. “Yes, we are celebrating Christmas,” she said. “We don’t have a large family, and members of our family live in different states. So, it's always me and my husband.”
This year's Christmas celebration involves remembering the holiday traditions of the “good old days,” which now seem like a lifetime ago.
Miller said her pre-Covid Christmas celebration was when her friends and family would gather on Christmas eve to prepare the meal for Christmas Day. “Adults would spend time with those we would hardly see throughout the year because of busy schedules or due to distance, and the kids would play with their cousins,” she said.
But this year, Miller said, there will be less food because she does not plan to invite people. The top priority will be my family’s food,” she added.
Baking cookies and delivering them to her closest friends and family is a tradition that Miller hopes to continue. However, she is not sure how she will go about it this year.
Miller has done all of her shopping online, except for the local handmade gifts, she still goes out and buys them. “Decorations will still go up, that is about the only thing that will not change,” Miller added.
Chua remembers Christmas as a time-honored celebration with family, friends and neighbors. “In our apartment complex, we would always have a potluck among ourselves. Everyone brings their share of Christmas cheer and savory dishes.”
This year, households will celebrate behind locked doors. “This pandemic limits the chances to share the table with relatives and friends. It will mostly be shared with family living on the same roof,” Chua added.
“Decorating is a time-honored tradition, so we will certainly still decorate,” Chua added. “It livens up the atmosphere of the house and cheers any passerby.” Chua also decided to shop online, “to be on the safe side, and to video call friends and family, too!”
At the Callaghan household, Christmas begins after the Thanksgiving dinner when they set up the tree. “We let our son open one gift on Christmas Eve. All other presents would be opened on Christmas morning,” Callaghan said. “My favorite memory of Christmas was my son's first Christmas! I got him a walker toy and he loved it. He was struggling to walk, so that toy really helped him out."
Callaghan said she will still serve the same amount of food: spiral ham, rolls, mac-n-cheese, green beans, rice and cake for dessert.
As for shopping, Callaghan takes trips to the stores for essentials, but the “fun” shopping was done online. “I want to keep my son, my husband and myself safe so I make sure if we go out for essentials, we wash our hands and sanitize when we get where we are going and when we get home.” said Callaghan. “So far, we have remained Covid-free.”