COVID-19 impacts family holiday plans


Photo courtesy of Julianna Squires

Smile. Sophomores Julianna Squires and Maddie Arnold smile for a picture from a distance.

Jaidyn Palladini, Associate Editor

Around the holidays, COVID-19 cases started to rise in Pa. and some events eventually ended up postponed or canceled. Some families were impacted by having to change their holiday plans. 

For sophomore Julianna Squires, she had to quarantine during Halloween and was unable to do the things she had planned. 

“This year, my mom had COVID-19 during Halloween, so we didn’t get to go to Halloween parties, Trick-or-Treat, or spend time with friends and family,” Squires said.

Let’s have fun. Sophomores Julianna Squires and Tehya Porter pose for a picture with matching costumes for Halloween.

Squires had to cancel her Halloween party and family movie night since her entire family was quarantined. 

“We usually have a party and have a family movie night where we watch scary movies,” Squires said. 

After ending her quarantine, Squires got to celebrate with her friends. 

“We had a little party with my family. I had my friends over and we celebrated Halloween late,” Squires said. 

Along with having to quarantine, sophomore Jake Yohn and his family had to reschedule their Christmas party with family after his cousin had to quarantine. 

“Because my cousin was quarantined, we weren’t able to hold the party at his house,” Yohn said. “Another one of my cousins had a neighbor who was kind enough to lend us their place for the party. It was very different since they didn’t have a movie theater or any of the other amenities that we would have had where we normally host the party.” 

Family traditions were canceled after having to replan what they were to do. 

“The kids have a tradition where we would all play the Wii every year,” Yohn said. “However, due to the fact that there aren’t enough controllers, we would have to take turns. Every year I would trounce my family, never losing a game, and always playing the Wii. Also, another one of the big traditions that was canceled this year due to COVID-19 was the gift exchange. We typically have a gift exchange where we would all buy and trade presents that we got for each other for the holiday season. It sucks that we couldn’t do it this year, but I do hope that we will be able to next time.”

After Yohn’s cousin came out of quarantine, things had gone back to how they used to be. 

“When my cousin came out of quarantine we were able to hang out once again,” Yohn said. “We played foosball and pool at his place, as well as the infamous Wii. It was nice being able to spend time together.”

It’s Christmas time. Sophomore Jake Yohn and his family smile for a picture during their Christmas party.

During December of 2020, freshman Gracie Gioiosa’s grandmother was in the hospital around Christmas. 

“It didn’t feel like the holiday season at all, my grandma was really sick, so it was a really stressful time,” Gioiosa said. “Because my mom was the one to drive her to the hospital, my whole house was infected with COVID-19, so even though my dad’s side was healthy, we couldn’t see them because we would’ve gotten them sick as well. My grandpa came over almost every night for dinner, so we got even closer with him.”


Gioiosas family traditions were slightly changed due to missing a family member during the holidays. 

“We knew even before my grandma got sick that it wasn’t a good idea to get together to celebrate, so any tradition we would’ve done was already not going to happen,” Gioiosa said.  “However, my grandma loves making cookies, and always does around the holidays. It was the little things like that I missed.”

All masked up. The Gioiosa family smiles for a picture during the holidays.

After her grandmother was released from the hospital, Gioiosa and her family finally celebrated.

“I remember the night she finally got discharged so vividly,” Gioiosa said. “At this point, she was in the hospital for about two months and she was relatively stable. UPMC Altoona had very few beds, so she got the okay to get transferred to a rehab facility. Around 7:30ish, my mom called my dad to bring us to the ambulance side of the hospital. My cousin, her dad, and my aunt from near Philadelphia were there. We all stood out in the cold waiting to get a glimpse of her. They brought my grandma out on a gurney and rushed her to the ambulance. The driver was so sweet and let us say ‘hi,’ all we wanted to do was hug her, but he said they needed to hurry. When my siblings and I got back in my dad’s truck we laughed and cried. When she got out of the rehab place, we converted her dining room into her bedroom, because she couldn’t get up the steps. My pap refused to take down the decorations so that my grandma could properly celebrate when she got home.”