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A Different Kind of Holiday Season

COVID has changed every aspect of life this year so it is no surprise that the holidays this year would also look and feel very different. The holidays are a big part of cultures around the globe, and many creative and cultural industries are extremely invested and even depend on the holiday season as an integral part of their business.


The usual scenes of big family celebrations, started to take on a new look in November, when gatherings for things like Diwali and Thanksgiving started shifting to online events, and zoom parties.


Now that we are into December, we’re seeing many changes in the ways people usually prepare for holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. While many this time of year are used to jostling for the best tree, baking or cooking with family to prep for gatherings, walking around neighborhoods of over-the-top decorated houses, and staring down a calendar chalk full events and parties, all of these experiences, and the businesses that provide for them, have had to pivot. As one such example, big retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s are offering online ordering and delivery for Christmas trees. Customers can pick out the tree type and size and get it delivered to their front doors. Even smaller Christmas tree farms are offering delivery to try and stay afloat and accommodate all customers this year.


Likewise, many public celebrations such as the ever popular ‘Candy Cane Lanes’ have been replaced in favor of drive through attractions. For the first time in 71 years, the El Segundo Candy Cane Lane wasn’t granted permits to close down their street and hold the annual event. Instead many drive through light attractions are taking their place -- even Chapman UPB is holding a “Night of Lights” so students can enjoy celebrating, but do it from the safety of their own cars.


Holiday performances and shows are another huge part of the creative industries at the holidays. Theaters and performance halls are still closed, especially in states like California that are now experiencing another stay-at-home order. Big television networks like Disney are still able to put together new Christmas specials that take place in different performers’ homes instead of hosting celebrations in the parks as per usual. And while some smaller companies are able to do the same and are providing these events to keep the community together, they aren’t able to bring in the revenue that these events would usually garner, which can have an affect on the longevity of those organizations.


Unexpectedly, the pandemic has also had an effect on the holiday card industry. Instead of families sharing the vacations, opportunities, and life changes that the year has brought, many are choosing to send out quarantine themed cards. Families are sending hopes of health and safety along with hilarious images cobbled together from Zoom or of their “quaranteam” just trying to get by.

The holidays are also the busiest time of year for giving back. Many choose to donate time or money during a season which can be hard for families that don’t have the means to celebrate or individuals that are struggling to provide for themselves. Nonprofits are lifelines to help those in need and that population has increased drastically since March. According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, “a little more than half the nonprofits nationwide expect a funding shortfall this year, and about 65% intend to spend down their reserves, according to Charity Navigator, an online resource for finding charities. About 48% have canceled servicing one of their primary programs and 77% have had to cancel fundraising events.” These fundraising events are usually integral to get donations and money to provide programs for the coming year. But despite COVID and the strains that it has put on so many due to things like job losses or pay cuts, those who are able to donate and help others are doing so, even more than years in the past. According to NonProfitPro, donations went up 7.5% year-over-year in the first half of 2020. Donors are still committed to supporting the causes they hold dearest to their hearts, which bodes well for an uptick at the end of the year as well.


For people who can’t donate monetarily and choose to donate their time instead, it’s more difficult and more dangerous to do so this year. According to the Chicago Tribune, usually there are so many volunteers around Thanksgiving that the Salvation Army can double up on their locations to accommodate the help. However, organizations like the Salvation Army that provide this assistance have had to downsize due to social distancing, facility capacity guidelines, and the lack of in-person volunteers. Much of the volunteer force is typically made up of seniors and others who may not have had to work, but this year they’re dealing with their own health concerns. This industry has been hit hard by the increase in demand and derth of resources and services to accommodate all of the new people in need.


However, there are still ways to give back. From sending online letters to seniors who’ve been isolated to creating hygiene kits or sewing masks for individuals in need there are still so many ways we can all participate. One especially easy way is using the AmazonSmile Program. Most of us are doing our shopping online this year, and if you choose to do so on Amazon then try switching to AmazonSmile! “AmazonSmile is a program that donates 0.5% of your eligible purchases on Amazon to a charity of your choice. All you need to do is start your shopping at smile.amazon.com. The donation will be made at no extra cost to you and you can choose from nearly one million public charitable organizations.” Consider doing what you can this holiday season whether that be simply switching the website where you shop, supporting small businesses when you can, donating, looking for online opportunities, or searching for safe volunteering opportunities in your community. Let us know if you know of any other ways to give back or tell us about what you’ve been doing to help out whatever community you may be in.

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