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OPINION: Can We Balance Physical and Mental Health While Preserving Holiday Traditions?

Nicole Fasciano ‘21

Associate Editor

Traditions can be generational, or they can also come out of the blue and then be cherished from year to year. For whatever season, holiday or celebration, traditions can be seen as moments and routines that bring happiness and familiarity to each changing year. 

In my family, traditions come in the form of my whole extended family gathering at our house for the holidays.  It comes from eating my grandma’s homemade coffee cake on Christmas morning. It comes in the form of my family saying grace together before our Thanksgiving meal. It comes in the form of rejoicing with friends at the town’s rivalry Thanksgiving-day football game. 

Recently, I have noticed and thought more about these traditions because many of them have faded away amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no Thanksgiving football game to watch while conversing with my friends from home. There was no grace to be said with my entire family by my side. There was no desire to watch the stripped-down Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

With another wave of COVID-19 cases beginning to surge, it is understandable that more regulations are being put back into place for the safety of everyone. Nevertheless, I think that it has gotten the point where we need to ask ourselves, what is this change in pattern, in tradition, doing to our mental health? What is going to be the long term impact of breaking traditions that create many foundational beliefs for family, friends, and one’s self around the nation?

We may not see the simplicity of the joy that these small actions can bring to us. It may not be as important to some as it is others. What I can acknowledge though, is that without tradition, and the excitement and expectation of something you can count on every year, it can bring people’s spirits down in a way we may not even realize.

As important as it is to stay safe during this time, choose to acknowledge the importance of carrying out traditions when possible. In more ways than not, it could be just as important as taking care of your physical health, as for your mental right now. I hope you choose to bring back the excitement and hope in as many ways as you can this holiday season, and maybe find a new tradition of your own.  

With the changing nature of the pandemic, it is reasonable to feel unsure of what traditions are safe to uphold. Something to consider is to create new traditions. Creating new traditions out of this change could leave a lasting impact on generations to come. By honoring what we used to cherish and practice, and adapting it to our current situations, we can bring a new perspective on embracing the good during a time of uncertainty.