This holiday season was unlike any we’ve experienced, and it was tough not to be able to see all of the people we love in person and celebrate the way we usually do.
But that didn’t make it any less special.
In our latest 12 on 12 Digital Original, we show you how some people adapted to these Untraditional Holidays, from houses of worship keeping their congregants safe to families simplifying their celebrations.
Watch: Untraditional Holidays
12 Things to Know About These Untraditional Holidays
1. Social gatherings should be limited.
Rhode Island’s statewide pause lasts through Sunday, Dec. 20, but some restrictions will remain in effect after that. The current restrictions call for gatherings being limited to the members of a single household. Adults who live alone can get together with one other household as long as the gathering doesn’t exceed five people.
2. Don’t forget to bring a mask.
If you’re visiting someone’s home during the holidays, the R.I. Department of Health recommends covering your face and staying at least six feet apart, especially while indoors.
Video Now: Full interview with Dr. McDonald
3. Travel advisories are still in effect.
While many people are expected to heed the warnings and stay home this holiday season, AAA still estimates nearly 85 million Americans will travel between Dec. 23 and Jan. 3. (That’s a reduction of 29%, or approximately 34 million people.)
A survey conducted by AAA revealed 82% don’t plan to travel for the holidays, while 11% of people said they will and the remaining 7% weren’t sure. Of the people planning to travel, 61% responded they plan to go out of state while 39% will stay in their home state.
Nearly 95% of those surveyed said they would travel to their destination by car. As for where they will stay, more than 83% said with friends and family while hotels, vacation rentals and second homes came in around 5.5% apiece.
Roughly 62% of respondents said the pandemic changed their holiday travel plans.
Travel by the Numbers
Every state has various travel restrictions in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut each have running lists of states considered “high-risk” and require anyone coming or returning from one of those states to quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative test result from within the previous 72 hours.
- More Information: Travel restrictions for RI, MA, CT »
- On the Roads: Pinpoint Traffic Map, Updates »
- In the Air: WPRI.com Flight Tracker »
- RI.gov: COVID-19 Travel Information »
Video Now: Full interview with AAA Northeast’s Diana Gugliotta
4. Get tested before you travel.
If you do plan to travel, federal and state health officials say to consider getting tested before and after your trip as a precaution.
Anyone who tests positive and/or feels sick should not travel.
5. Virtual religious services are available.
Houses of worship across Southern New England have been offering online services throughout the pandemic, and health officials say that’s the safest bet during the holidays. Check with your house of worship to find out when and how to watch services.
- Our Lady of the Rosary: Masses streamed live on Facebook
- Temple Sinai: Services streamed live here | Past services
In-person services are allowed, however, the state set a limit of 25% occupancy with a maximum of 125 attendees. Because of that, some parishes are requiring parishioners to reserve a seat for Christmas Masses.
On Christmas morning, the Mass celebrated by Bishop Thomas Tobin will be broadcast live at 10 a.m. on WPRI 12 and WPRI.com.
Video Now: Full interview with Rabbi Goldwasser
6. There are safe ways to celebrate.
While your traditions may be different or potentially not even possible this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t create lasting memories.
From visiting festive light displays to crafting decorations and connecting with family and friends via FaceTime, Zoom or another program, families are encouraged to great creative and find new (and safe) ways to get into the holiday spirit.
7. Keep an eye on the weather forecast.
Health officials say the safest thing you can do is take activities outside, but that really only works when the weather cooperates.
Pinpoint Weather Resources
8. Consider shopping small this year.
Small businesses are struggling right now and need your support more than ever. When doing your holiday shopping, seek out ways to buy local, such as picking up gift cards to local shops and restaurants.
This year, WPRI 12 teamed up with Shop Local Rhode Island to bring you the 12 Local Gift Guide, a way to shop small and stay safe at the same time.
Currently, Rhode Island retailers are limited to 1 person per 100 square feet of space (or 150 square feet for big box stores).
9. You can still help those in need this year.
With so many people out of work right now, many families are struggling as well. While food and toy drives are usually a great way to help them during the holidays, those have also undergone some changes this year.
Rather than donating canned goods to the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, you can make a monetary donation to help them restock their pantries.
If you typically give to our annual Toys for Tots drive, those donations are being collected at Cardi’s locations instead of the WPRI 12 studios in East Providence.
Or, seek out a different nonprofit and find out how you can safely pitch in this holiday season.
10. Give the gift of life.
While the need for blood and plasma is always there, donations are way down due to the pandemic. If you’re healthy, consider becoming a donor during this trying time.
11. It’s OK not to be OK.
The holidays can be a tough time of year for many people, and that’s especially true during a pandemic. If you’re having trouble — don’t be afraid to ask. There are a number of resources out there to get you the help you need.
- In the event of an emergency, call 911.
- BH Link: Mental health or substance abuse crisis hotline available 24/7: (401) 414-LINK (4565)
- Prevent Overdose RI: Connect with a counselor: 401-414-LINK (5465)
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- The Samaritans of RI: 24-hour listening line: (401) 272-4044 or (800) 365-4044
- Suicide emergency checklist and FAQ
12. Holiday Programming on WPRI 12
Sunday, Dec. 20
8:30 p.m. Celebrate The Holidays With Garth Brooks And Trisha Yearwood – The country music icons sing songs of the season in a live, one-hour concert special from their home recording studio.
9:30 p.m. The 22nd Annual A Home for the Holidays – Host Gayle King presents uplifting stories of adoption from foster care as families adopt children in virtual ceremonies. Featuring performances from Josh Groban, Miranda Lambert, Meghan Trainor, Leslie Odom Jr., and Andrea Bocelli.
Monday, Dec. 21
8 p.m. The Price is Right at Night – Drew Carey hosts a special “holly jolly-themed” primetime show where families come on down and play for festive prizes.
9 p.m. Let’s Make a Deal Primetime – Festive-themed games and deals, plus a special guests appearance from Christopher Jackson, star of the CBS drama Bull.
How are you celebrating?
Are you coming up with creative ways to observe the holidays, or making some new traditions this year?
Show us by sending your pictures and video using the form below, and be sure to check back to see our gallery!
Reporter – Alexandra Leslie
Executive Producer – Shaun Towne
Photographers/Editors – Alexandra Leslie, Nick Blair
Graphic Designer – Lisa Mandarini
Digital Content Producer – Shaun Towne
Special Thanks – Beth Fernandes, Lee Dooley, Jen Quinn, Susan Tracy-Durant, Karen Rezendes