The holidays usually involve friends and family coming together to share a meal, gifts and good tidings. Last year, with a pandemic raging with no vaccine or end in sight, a lot of people adapted to a distanced Christmas. Now two COVID-Christmases down, people are easing back into their holiday traditions, though often with extra steps.
Traveling again for the holidays
Adam Duquette moved to Redmond eight years ago after his wife got a job in the area and they fell in love with Central Oregon. Typically for the holidays he'd celebrate Christmas Day in town, but travel to visit family and friends in Portland at some point.
"For us in Central Oregon, it had become, especially now that we have a child who's just started elementary school recently, we had gotten used to just staying here on Christmas Day, but we'd always at some point around Christmas itself, travel back up to Portland to just hang out with friends and family, or sometimes they come down to us," Duquette said.
Last year Duquette opted for a distanced Christmas, but still managed to hang onto his family's traditions.
"The one thing we'd always do is make gingerbread houses, you'd go get the pre bought stuff at the store, but you throw them together, and you'd maybe try to turn it into something that wasn't displayed and turn it into maybe an ice hockey rink or something. And we tried to keep that tradition going. But we did it over Zoom," Duquette said. "It wasn't exactly the same, but we kept it alive."
Duquette said he knew last year would be different, but this year they could get closer to normal.
"We're trying to find a new normal now, it's going to be things like, before we travel, we're going to take a COVID test to make sure that we're negative. We're also all fully vaccinated in my family, and so are the family and friends that we go to visit. So, ensuring that we're doing stuff like that if we are going to go visit people," Duquette said.
The Holiday Meal
David Bishop moved to Bend eight years ago, at the age of 15, and for many years had a typical Christmas experience.
"For the majority of my life, Christmas was pretty basic, we just gather the immediate family, watch movies and whatnot the night before, spend all day making dinner while we're doing that, making a proper feast," Bishop said.
He also usually ended up with some sort of building project to do the day of, often accommodating guests by building booster seats or cradles for visiting kids. Bishop spent last Christmas in a motel while struggling to find a place to live. This year he's looking forward to having a bigger kitchen to make his holiday meal — right now, he's thinking chicken, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese.
"No big traditions on my own yet, I am keeping up cooking a big meal that starts early in the morning every year," Bishop said. "I don't know what I'm going to do for a building project. I might just resort back to the basic gingerbread house, though."
—Compiled by Jack Harvel
Christmas with the parents
Bendite and avid back-country skier Mallory Duncan typically goes to Los Angeles to visit family during the holidays, but due to COVID, Duncan has been gathering in smaller numbers with only immediate family members.
"We didn't gather in 2021 because my family in L.A. wasn't comfortable assembling," Duncan said. "I went to my parents' house in California last year, and will again this year," he added. "Hopefully, next year we go back to LA."
When traveling for the holidays, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting fully vaccinated, wearing a mask indoors and on all public transportation services. Plus, the CDC encourages travelers to self-test before joining indoor gatherings with people not a part of your household.
Scaling Back the Snowboard Trip
Celebrating the holidays for Makena Mehringer usually involves visiting family in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, shredding up the mountains on her snowboard. Mehringers' family views COVID a little more casually, yet still see the risk.
"We still have to live our lives," said Mehringer.
For this year, and last year's Christmas, Mehringer opted out of traveling to Idaho. Instead, she visited with her dad and his girlfriend at the girlfriend's house here in Bend.
When staying local for the holidays, the CDC recommends hosting outdoor get togethers, avoiding crowds and staying home if you are sick or are showing symptoms related to COVID.
Celebrating a Parade
Bend Oregon Raider Nation's Aaron Chambers likes to spend the holidays celebrating with family and friends. Similar to Mehringer, Chambers also views COVID on a lighter note. Chambers' Christmas last year was slightly tarnished due to the cancellation of the annual Bend Christmas Parade, which the BORN organization builds a float for. Though the parade was cancelled, Chambers still gathered with family last Christmas and plans to do the same this year.
Still representing the Raiders until death, the Dec. 26, game against the Broncos is also on the schedule for Chambers' holiday happenings.
"(BORN) is meeting after Christmas day to watch the game and sing holiday songs," chuckled Chambers.
—Compiled by Trevor Bradford