Staples community celebrates winter holidays through COVID-19

Staples staff and students found ways to celebrate the holidays over winter break despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Graphic by Lucy Dockter ’23

Staples staff and students found ways to celebrate the holidays over winter break despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Lucy Dockter ’23, Paper Arts Editor

During normal years, the winter holidays are the cause for exotic vacations, grand parties and elaborate meals. In January, students and staff return to school refreshed, full of lingering holiday spirit and a golden tan. However, 2020 was far from normal. But despite COVID-19 restrictions, the Staples community was still able to enjoy the holiday break with adjustments to their typical celebrations. 

In order to slow the spread of Covid during the holidays, social distancing guidelines were implemented throughout the state. According to the Connecticut Health I-Team, as of Nov. 6, indoor and outdoor gatherings have been limited to a maximum of 10 people, curbing Westport families’ holiday traditions and travel.

“Normally we go to San Diego for the holiday break to see my wife’s family,” physical education teacher Jeff Doornweerd said, “but we did not feel comfortable flying or exposing her parents who fall into the ‘older’ category to any more risk.”

To stay safe and healthy, many families chose not to travel. They stayed local and simply spent time with their immediate family. Many found it was still a fulfilling way to spend the holidays.

“On [Christmas Day] we just stayed home, but it was still pretty nice to spend time with my close family,” Olivia McCaffery ’23 said.

It was certainly different and tough not to see the people we normally enjoy seeing over the holidays, but at the same time, it was nice to have a slower pace which led to much more relaxation.”

— Brendan Giollito

Unfortunately, many family traditions couldn’t take place safely this year, yet many found ways to see relatives. Through social distancing and mask wearing, families were able to see each other while remaining within Covid safety guidelines. 

“We had a small outside get together during the day of Christmas Eve with some of our relatives,” Eliza Lang ’22 said. “We wore masks and tried to keep six feet apart. It was a good way to see family but stay safe.”

Other families, however, still decided to travel over break to see family or to escape the cold weather. In order to do so, families had to abide by safety precautions such as, quarantining and testing before and after the trip. 

“My family traveled [to Mexico] over break,” an anonymous student said. “We normally visit family, but we didn’t want to risk getting our elderly family members sick so we chose to travel somewhere warm instead.”

Many families spent their vacation being physically active; after months of being cooped up inside with little to do, many families took to the outdoors. Hiking, skiing and sledding were very popular activities.

“We usually ski [during break],” McCaffery said, “but since we couldn’t get tickets in time, we did some winter hiking which was fun.”

Some of these activities were so enjoyable, people expect to make them permanent traditions of their winter break activities. 

“[We] introduced my older son, Jake, to snowboarding which I am really excited about because he loved it and that will be something we can do together!” Doornweerd said. 

Though this was an extremely unusual way to spend the holidays this year, Staples community members still managed to have fun and relax. In fact, many even found a silver lining.

“It was certainly different and tough not to see the people we normally enjoy seeing over the holidays,” English teacher Brendan Giollito said, “but at the same time, it was nice to have a slower pace which led to much more relaxation.”