Friends and families gather on Zoom to celebrate holidays


Credit: Courtesy of Jules Apse

On Thanksgiving, senior Jules Apse and her family gathered in a Zoom meeting to take their traditional Thanksgiving photo. With holidays just around the corner, lots of families planning to use Zoom to stay connected with each other. “It made it feel like Thanksgiving since everything else about the day was completely different,” Apse said.

Katherine Kim and Tess Alongi

As the year 2020 approaches its end and winter holidays begin, December gathers friends and families under one roof and lights the joy of celebration in their hearts. The holiday season has looked similar for many years for people with unique traditions of their own. This year, however, the usual celebrations will look different for many as social gatherings pose a high risk of spreading COVID-19.

Despite this year’s circumstances, many people have been using Zoom to overcome the physical separation with their friends and families to celebrate together. Senior Anna Walsh has been virtually gathering with her friends to make more memories during her last year of high school.

“We have done Zoom meetings like Netflix parties where you can watch a Netflix movie together but remotely,” Walsh said. “We may do a holiday Zoom to stay connected and talk.”

Similar to Walsh, sophomore Grace Marto was able to bond with her cousins virtually on Thanksgiving.

“We did some online games that you can do on your phone, and we Zoomed while doing that,” Marto said. “Everyone was laughing and having a good time, so I think we will do that again for Christmas morning.”

Due to COVID-19 and the ten-person indoor gathering limit in Massachusetts, Senior Jules Apse could not have her usual Thanksgiving gathering with her family.

“On Thanksgiving, we usually go to my great-great aunt’s house for lunch,” Apse said. “There are usually about 30 people there and two huge turkeys all cramped together. Then, we all migrate to my great aunt’s house for dinner.”

Although COVID-19 has brought a halt to many long-standing holiday rituals, Apse and her family were still able to continue their annual turkey tradition via Zoom. Apse believes that the Zoom gathering made her day feel like her usual Thanksgiving.

“We have a tradition, about 29 years in the making, of the kids in the family taking a photo around the turkeys,” Apse said. “This year, we tried to recreate that photo as best as we could on Zoom.”

Zoom has been a great tool beyond school and work use, enabling friends and families to connect during COVID-19. However, it also has downsides as it doesn’t perfectly mimic in-person gatherings.

“The pros are obviously getting to see your family,” Apse said. “However, seeing as a few of my family members are quite old, it was difficult for them to use the technology. Not being able to see my older relatives is really tough.”

With holidays just around the corner, many families plan to use Zoom again to continue their annual holiday traditions. Apse, who has a family Yankee swap tradition, had to find an alternative to exchange gifts with her family.

“Seeing as we can’t do [the Yankee swap] this year, I came up with the idea that we do a Secret Santa instead,” Apse said. “We all got assigned a person, and we’re shipping their gifts to them. On the 24th, we’ll all be on Zoom opening the gifts together.”

This year, the holidays will continue to look different. However, some families still find joy from small-sized celebrations and relaxations that come along. Some people are looking forward to getting some extra sleep and exchanging gifts with immediate family members.

“Although it’s sad not everything is the same, I’m really excited that everything will be a bit more laid-back this year,” Apse said. “It will be so nice to have an actual Christmas eve dinner with my family instead of mingling with 35 people and eating appetizers all night.”