How local families are spending the holidays this year

Compiled by Nancy Price

For most of us, COVID-19 has changed the way we are spending the holidays with family and friends this year. Many of us will avoid traveling for Christmas and only be with those in our households. New Year’s Eve will also look different this year. Instead of attending festive parties, we’ll be having dinner at home and streaming movies in our pajamas while sipping hot chocolate.

Whatever your plans are this season, please stay safe and enjoy the holidays.

Q: What are your favorite family traditions? Will they change this year due to COVID?

“My family traditions include going to the Artcraft in Franklin to watch Elf, spending time with my husband’s family on Christmas Eve and visiting with my grandparents on Christmas Day. This year our traditions will look slightly different. We will not be participating in any large group gatherings. Instead we will create the magic of the holidays throughout our home and go more over the top than we would have in years past. We will definitely miss spending time with our loved ones in person, but we will still Facetime our family members to celebrate the holidays and send out Christmas cards.”

Alexandria Wheeler, Center Grove

“Traditionally for Christmas we go see my family in Ohio at some point but due to COVID we will be skipping that this year. We also travel a few days after Christmas, usually to a beach. This year due to COVID we are flying to Arizona and renting an RV to spend some time in the mountains (Grand Canyon, Sedona). I do have family out there so we will see them some. So, we will be home for Christmas this year and I’ve already got the tree up and I’m getting into it!”

Jenna Wright, Center Grove

“Our family spends Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at our home in Center Grove. My mother, father and sister-in law and our older son, his girlfriend, our 1-year-old granddaughter and a special group of friends come to our home Christmas Eve. We have the Santa Tracker on TV and the football game on another. We have an early dinner which consist of some type takeout and a few Christmas cocktails. Our 7-year-old puts out milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer and tries to get us to bed as early as possible. We start Christmas morning searching for evidence that Santa has stopped by, of which there is plenty! Coffee and some type of breakfast casserole is started, presents are distributed, and we take turns opening gifts until everything is opened. After all gifts are opened, we eat breakfast, relax and assemble toys. Our Christmas dinner over the past few years has been steak and lobster which we all enjoy. COVID will not change our family’s holiday traditions. We are a very close family and have kept each other in “our bubble” throughout the pandemic and will have our holiday time together as we always have.”

April Spanogle, Center Grove

“One of our favorite traditions is getting hot chocolates at Starbucks and driving around looking at Christmas lights on houses. We also enjoy attending Winterlights at Newsfields and using our special glasses that turn each light into snowmen, candy canes and other fun shapes. We have always liked to be home on Christmas Eve and Christmas, especially since having our own children. On Christmas Eve, we always open our matching Christmas pajamas and have hot chocolate while we watch a Christmas movie. Some of our favorite movies to watch are Home Alone and Elf. On Christmas Day we open stockings and gifts and usually make a big breakfast which includes an old family recipe called cinnamon roll cookies. We then spend the day playing with new toys and enjoying time together. Our traditions likely won’t change much due to COVID-19. There will be less social gatherings but that is always a good reminder to slow down and enjoy the holiday season.”

Maggie Hutton, Center Grove