As the holiday season approaches, many people feel the exhaustion of the pandemic and the disappointment of not being able to see family; however, that doesn’t stop people from trying to lift spirits and holiday cheer.
All across St. Joseph, Christmas trees shine from windows since Halloween ended. As a general trend, many people decided to put up holiday decorations early to enjoy them a little longer and shed some light on 2020. Missouri Western student Mariah DeSpain is one of them.
“I love Christmas, and usually by mid-November I’m decorating my room with my tree, warm lights, and lots of fuzzy blankets,” DeSpain said. “But 2020 has been rough enough, that Nov. 1, my tree went up!”
Ifeanyi Achobandu, an international student here at Missouri Western, had winter break plans altered with the increase of COVID-19 cases.
While Achobandu does plan on traveling over winter break, he is not traveling to his home country of Nigeria. Achobandu’s winter break itinerary includes traveling to Atlanta, Georgia to renew his passport.
“My earlier plan was to stay there and look around the city,” Achobandu said. “It looks like COVID-19 is getting worse, so I might end up going back to St. Joe.”
In an attempt to decrease the number of cases, countries have placed heavy restrictions on travel or have outright forbade traveling.
“Some students are not able to go home because of travel restrictions, so they are stranded in the United States,” Fumi Cheever, director of International Student Services said.
Although Achobandu is spending winter break away from his family, the distance does not affect his relationship with his family whom he talks to every day.
“I talk to my family through WhatsApp and phone calls,” Achobandu said. “We usually talk every day.”
While some students spend the holidays away from family, others are thankful for this year’s extended break so they can travel home.
For Missouri Western sophomore Arianna Boma, traveling home for winter break will be an experience she hasn’t felt in years. After two years of not being able to visit family for the holidays, she will be driving home to Illinois after the semester’s end.
“I have a bit of anxiety over COVID-19,” Boma said. “But, as long as everyone is socially distanced and wears their mask properly, I think it’ll be okay.”
Boma is one for traditions, spending every Christmas Eve decorating a tree with her parents and her siblings.
“We did it every year,” Boma said. “On Christmas Eve, we would watch the old-school Christmas movies and make popcorn and hot chocolate.”
Despite COVID-19, students all agreed that they were excited about the holidays. Be sure to drive around to see the holiday lights this year, as everyone looks forward to something jolly in 2020.