Unpredictable holidays in unpredictable times

Students plan to make the most of their unconventional winter break


Photo by Sasha Kek

As students get ready for winter break and prepare for holidays, some may need to modify their traditional celebrations due to the ongoing pandemic. “Usually during the holidays I hang out with friends, go present shopping, and eat out with family,” Niya Katsarska, junior said about her regular winter break traditions. “Now I’m trying to distract myself with other things I enjoy and come up with different ways to do things, so instead of shopping in person, I’m doing online shopping for presents.”

The season of carols, presents, and decorated homes is upon us, and despite the unorthodox year due to the pandemic, students have not lost their holiday spirits and plan to make the most of their unconventional winter break.

“I don’t believe the pandemic has affected my holiday spirit,” Ellen Scharf, freshman, said. “If anything, it made me more excited to celebrate in a different way [because] now we have more activities and more shared experiences to talk about.”

Scharf and her family plan to travel out of the state during the holiday break.

“My family plans to go to Florida and visit some family friends in Miami,” Scharf said. “After that, we plan to go to Orlando and visit Universal Studios. I don’t know if COVID will affect our [trip] because so far no flights have been cancelled.”

Their trip to Florida will be out of the ordinary as they normally invite three families over to their home to celebrate Christmas, however, due to the unpredictable time, they will celebrate with one family, although Scharf is aware that flights may be cancelled in the coming weeks.

“If we can’t go to Florida, then we would probably stay home and find something else to do; we will probably celebrate Christmas alone for the first time,” Scharf said. “We don’t have any family that live in the US except for family members who live in Florida.”

Because they will not be celebrating the holidays at their home, Scharf says she will be “uncomfortable”, however, she was able to find some cheer.

“In general, the main thing that can cheer me up [during the holidays] are my dogs, but I’m not going to be with them this year. That’s okay though because the place I’m going to has a really cute dog named Ginger, and she’s very sweet,” Scharf said.

While Scharf is celebrating out of state, Niya Katsarska, junior, will stay at home.

“My family usually invites family friends over for Christmas Eve, [but] because of COVID, we won’t be able to have anyone over,” Katsarska said. “It will be a different experience and feel a little bit more lonely, [and while] I definitely feel sad about not being able to have anyone over, it’s one Christmas without people, and I have my parents and brother still.”

While her family’s tradition is affected due to the current conditions, Katsarska says “just having more time to spend with my family makes my holidays better” as both her parents will be home for the holidays, “which makes me really happy,” Katsarska said. To pass the break and make it into a more positive experience, she plans to try out new hobbies.

“I want to try finding a new hobby to occupy my time, like sculpting,” Katsarska said. “I want to try sculpting because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. With COVID I can spend all my time at home and work on that.”

Katsarska says she did not have the time to start sculpting before, but because she has free time during the pandemic, Katsarska is able to start working on this new hobby.

“[Sculpting is] something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had enough time to commit to. Now that I stay mostly at home, I have a lot more time to learn,” Katsarska said. “I was inspired to start sculpting through videos I saw on TikTok and YouTube; I found a lot of sculptors that I really enjoyed. I’m getting my materials from Michaels since it’s one of the few art stores near Lake Zurich.”

No matter how students will spend their winter break, Sharf encourages students to stay wary of the pandemic.

“I would prefer to stay home and not risk getting COVID, nor spreading it, so I suggest that other students would stay home and stay safe,” Sharf said. “Many families are different, but I think that most students will be able to share a good time with their family [over the break].”