The holidays for many can be a stressful time, from spending money on presents, to trying to make the perfect roast for the family dinner. However, this year the holiday stress has a new aspect to it.
With the current pandemic, some viewed the holiday as a time to finally see family and return to a little bit more of a normal life. For others it was still the same as the last few months, in which they strayed away from the public and family for health reasons. For Elizabeth Ely’s family, this was not a decision they were able to debate on as they were in quarantine during the holidays.
Elizabeth’s family has been personally exposed to COVID many times. Elizabeth herself has been exposed twice, and has had to get tested three times. Elizabeth’s father Mark, works in different hospitals, and is exposed every day. The number of times he has been tested would make your head spin trying to count it. He is tested every other day in attempts to limit exposure with patients and other employees. Ely’s on and off quarantines due to COVID scares started on August 27th, have continued even through today.
“I was in quarantine for the first week of school, my first exposure was from a coworker whose boyfriend tested positive, and that was my first time having it,” Elizabeth said. “I was the only one in my family who got it so I had to quarantine away from them. No one could come in so they would deliver my dinners to my door.”
As much as spending time in your room away from your parents would appeal to many high schoolers, this proved to be very hard for Elizabeth.
“I remember there was one time I was eating dinner and I just started bawling because it was so lonely and I was so sick of it,” Elizabeth said.
“When it was over I didn’t go in my room at all,” Elizabeth said when asked what it was like after being quarantined from her own family.
Elizabeth’s quarantine was the start of many to come, when her brother tested positive, her father was also advised at this time to be away from his family. This left Elizabeth and her mother Nicole together as they had tested negative. During this time Ely was able to spend a lot more time with her mom.
“We watched a lot of movies, and we started new shows,” Elizabeth said. “It was really good quality time.” However, the shows and quality time didn’t take away from how much Liz missed her brother during this time.
“You don’t realize how much you miss your siblings until you can’t see them,” Elizabeth said. “Dinner was so weird being the only kid to talk about, usually my brother deflects for me and I didn’t have that when he had to quarantine.” Ely spent her time walking, researching about getting a new puppy, and having fun with her mom. Through all the quarantines, the Ely family was not let off easy. When it came time for the holidays, they didn’t get a break like many others did during that time.
A typical holiday with the Ely’s consists of seeing her grandparents, making Christmas cookies, and tracking Santa. However this year the holiday cheer had to be spread differently amongst their family.
“We made Christmas cookies and decorated the house,” Elizabeth said. “We weren’t able to see my grandparents, which was really hard because we are usually there because they live so close.We usually go there for new years and celebrate and we weren’t able to do that either, it just didn’t even feel like Christmas.”
Elizabeth’s favorite part of the holidays is getting to see her family, and watching them smile when they receive gifts, this year, however, the smiles were virtual.
“My family brought a huge box of presents, we went to the door and wore masks so that they couldn’t get our germs, then we just took it inside and Face timed everyone while we opened our gifts,” Elizabeth said. Although her holiday was virtual and she was unable to see her family for their usual holiday get togethers, Elizabeth was grateful for the time she was given during the holidays and her quarantine.
“It was so nice getting to spend so much lost time with immediate family especially since things have been crazy. Just having that down time was great and simple and we didn’t have to worry about anything.”