|Christmas light displays at Cherry Avenue in Willow Glen, San Jose, California. (Photo: Hong Thuy)
Ngoc Diep: Welcome to the show, Thuy Nguyen. So you’re living with your family in California, one of the hardest-hit by COVID-19 in the US. We’re just a few days away from Christmas and 2020 is likely to be a Christmas unlike any other. How are the Christmas celebrations going in your area during COVID-19?
Thuy Nguyen: Because of COVID-19 we don’t go out a lot but in my neighbourhood everyone decorated their houses for Christmas. I can definitely feel the holiday spirit whenever I walk around my neighborhood. Our festive home activities are taking family pictures, decorating the Christmas tree, writing holiday cards to loved ones and helping our kids write letters to Santa.
|Light displays in the Willow Glen neighborhood in San Jose, California. (Photo: Hong Thuy)
Ngoc Diep: Is it a lot different from what your family did last year?
Thuy Nguyen: So this year has been completely different from last year. Most activities are at home. To celebrate Christmas, we decorated the Christmas tree, watch Christmas movies, listen to Christmas music and read bed time stories by the tree. Also we help the kids make some craft cards.
Ngoc Diep: How have the kids reacted to this special holiday season, especially since there may be no Santa Claus delivering gifts as usual?
Thuy Nguyen: Instead of in-person visits with friends and families, we have created fun ways for our kids to have video interactions at home on facetime or writing letters and making cards. We also explained to them that it’s ok to feel sad and disappointed. However, we offer positive self talk and home activities so that they feel the holiday spirit when they’re home.
|Christmas lights in San Carlos, CA. (Photo: Hong Thuy)
Ngoc Diep: Thank you, Thuy! What about you, Andrew Larson? You’re living with your family in Des Moines, Iowa. How are Christmas celebrations going in your area?
Andrew Larson : This year is very hard for every American. We have to limit the time we go to the store and other places. We mostly stay at home and enjoy the outdoors when possible. Because of lockdown, Christmas markets are not popular, and we’ve resorted to online purchases and home delivery. Thanks to COVID and the lockdown, there are no Christmas shows and themed gatherings. This year we will drive around to look at the neighborhood decorations. This year the Christmas of lights is being held; we drive-through the Rockin’ Lights Show where they have a large collection of lights for people to enjoy and stay safe in the car - no socializing.
| A Christmas tree at Andrew's home in Des Moines, Iowa.
Ngoc Diep: And what has your family done to welcome Christmas and the New Year? It must be a lot different from what your family did last year?
Andrew Larson: This year is very different, normally we gather with family and friends on Christmas day and New Year’s eve, a group of 20 people. This year we will limit it to our own family. We’ll still prepare gifts for everyone, but the exchange will not be in person. This year we will gather via Zoom to open presents. My mom is still baking. She said: “It is not Christmas without baking.” So, we will share the food and share the gifts, but not share the hugs and holiday cheer.
Ngoc Diep: And how do the kids feel about this special holiday season?
Andrew Larson: They love the holiday. They can stay home, watch TV, open gifts, spend time with parents, play games, and read or learn. They’ll miss the big gathering and time at Grandma’s, but overall, I think they will still be happy.
Ngoc Diep: Thank you so much for sharing your stories. We wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Stay safe and healthy, everybody.
Andrew Larson takes his family on a ride for Christmas light displays in their neighbourhoods in Des Moines, Iowa.