By Carrie Steinweg
LANSING, Ill. (December 23, 2020) – The Christmas season is looking different this year than any other Lansing has experienced. Residents have to worry about a highly-contagious virus during a time that is usually a very social season. They might be shopping from a computer or doing curbside pick-up to avoid going into stores, and they’re having to wear masks everywhere they go. There was no sitting on Santa’s lap this year to recite a wish list. All of these changes have been in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. But what will Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations look like for those in Lansing? A few residents shared with The Lansing Journal what their COVID Christmas will look like this year. Their words are included below:
Before the pandemic and social distancing, we had a tradition of celebrating Christmas at my mother-in-law’s house. An intimate gathering of 22 or so of us making tamales. We gather around her small round kitchen table assembling and cooking tamales and drinking piña coladas (our traditional Christmas drink) with music playing in the background—the kids anxiously watching the clock to midnight to open presents, some of them looking at the large pile trying to take inventory of how many presents they were getting.
Then, come midnight, we hug one another, say “I love you,” pass out presents and everyone tears into them and in a matter of minutes, oh the mess of wrapping paper, torn up boxes and tissue paper everywhere! Once in a while, after the mayhem, there would be the sifting of trash because one of the kids lost a gift card or gift receipt. Fun times!
But this year will be much more-low key. Only a few of us will show up wearing our masks and being as careful as we can. The majority of the family will stay home to keep my in-laws safe. They have been in good health this whole time, and we want to keep it that way. My mother-in-law also makes it a tradition to gather us in the living room and pray. This year we will be praying for those that are mourning the loss of a loved one, praying for an end to this pandemic, and expressing our gratitude for our many blessings.
Like most of the world, specifically Americans, holiday gatherings have been cancelled or modified starting all the way back with Easter, then Thanksgiving, and now Christmas. Although we did have a family reunion back in July, some of my family had already had COVID-19 by then. Some of my family have it now. So, Christmas will be very modified this year. Those of us that had it already will be together. Those that currently have it get to sit this one out. We don’t do the whole Zoom thing. A phone call is sufficient. Besides, my stepmother doesn’t have a computer. She barely has a phone. She likes to refer to herself as Urban Amish.
The holidays are an emotional time for me for a laundry list of reasons. I’m also a December baby, so it’s a tidal wave of emotions all at once. For as talkative as I am in the public eye, at family gatherings or public social functions, I’m usually the wallflower. Go figure. Who’d have thought, right?
Like the rest of the world, I long for things to go back to normal. Perhaps, one day? Until then, we’ll all just have to make do with the situation at hand.
I’m doing the same thing I did for the last two years. I’ll be flying to Arizona to be with my family. It’s just Connor, my younger son. This time since my older son, Sean, is already there for school.
I plan to spend a quiet Christmas and New Year at home alone. I just had my birthday the same way. I had a full, happy life with a great wife and two kids. That’s comfort.
Well, 2020 Christmas is here, and nothing can stop that. I’m lucky to have my family all living together. I, along with my mother, sister, and two nephews—Austin and Lucas—will celebrate Christmas as we always do. Spaghetti dinner and the movie A Christmas Carol will happen on Christmas Eve, and, after Santa stops by our house, we will wake up on Christmas day (usually 6:00 a.m. with the kids waking up the old folk), open gifts, and have a huge breakfast that my sister makes. Mmmmm…I can taste the bacon now.
A day of playing with the kids and their new toys will follow and wrap up with a big dinner and evening snacks…homemade cookies and egg nog! I’ve gained 10 pounds just writing this!! We really needed the Christmas spirit this year, and fellow Lansing residents didn’t disappoint us. I am truly amazed at all the beautiful outdoor and lawn decorations I have seen driving through our town and Fox Pointe’s decorations are amazing. My family and I did a walk-through, and it really put us in the holiday mood!! I think we all needed that this year.
I will miss having my aunt and uncle over, but they are older and being safe and staying home during the pandemic. However, I did tell my aunt there is no way Im going to miss out on her gingerbread cookies this year, so she better give them to Santa to deliver them to me!! Speaking of deliveries, is it just me or does everyone have a porch filled with boxes of Christmas gifts being delivered this year? I do miss the hustle and bustle of shopping in store, but this year I have limited my outdoor shopping.
I have a large family and we have been very fortunate to remain healthy this year. My thoughts and prayers this holiday season go out to those less fortunate, those who have family members who are sick or have passed on from COVID, those who are unemployed and hurting financially. My family is thinking and praying for you every day. For our first responders and healthcare workers, we thank you so much. And to all my family and friends, a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year.
Normally we all get together at our daughter’s house on Christmas Eve and have dinner. After that, we open gifts and play cards or dice and relax. This year we got together with our daughter the Saturday before Christmas at our house. There was plenty of room to distance ourselves and pretty much talk and open gifts. On the 26th we are going to our son’s house to get together with his family. He has a large heated garage that we can spread out in and eat and open gifts and relax. Very different, but fortunate that we’re all still here to celebrate with.
We aren’t really doing anything exciting—not seeing the extended family, small though it is (we only have my husband’s two sisters, my dad, my brother, and his little family). One thing we are planning to do though is order Christmas Eve dinner from JJ Kelley’s!
As an essential employee, I have been working uninterrupted in my Lansing bank office since March. I attest to my health in two separate apps daily to make sure that I’m not sick then go to work on Ridge Road.
As for the holidays, we still plan on celebrating in person with my kids and grandkids. My wife’s mother will be 89 on Christmas Day, so we are very careful not to transmit anything to her, and we will miss not being able to hug her on her birthday. She has eight children and all of them have carefully isolated themselves for most of the year, and we respect that. Some of our friends have done the same, and I appreciate their decision.
Last weekend, I played Christmas carols around the area, spreading some much needed cheer, hopefully without spreading the virus. I have done this for almost 50 years and don’t plan to stop now. I believe it is a real disease, real bad, and real people that I know have gotten sick and died. My father died at 52 years old. I have had many friends pass away way too young. I have learned that none of us are promised tomorrow. In the end it is not the days in our lives but the life in our days that count. I hope you can appreciate my personal decisions as I respect yours.
- COVID forces adjustments to Lansing holiday traditions (November 17, 2020)
Photos: Village lights Christmas tree, welcomes Santa (December 6, 2020)