KC families modify holiday traditions for safety in 2020

Posted at 12:53 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 13:53:32-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Many families are changing treasured holiday traditions to celebrate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore asked if my (Lindsay Shively) Grandma and I would want to be a part of "Come Into My Kitchen," a feature in the Kansas City Star for decades, I was so torn.

I desperately wanted to document our Buche De Noel tradition with my Grandma but I didn't know how, in 2020, we would keep up our traditional baking day safely.

We found a way and asked other Kansas City families to tell us how they are keeping up their holiday traditions safely.

For more than 20 years, I've spent a December afternoon in my Grandma's kitchen baking a Buche De Noel that we freeze and eat together on Christmas Day.

This year, we baked in our own kitchens, virtually together through video chat. While the rolled cake was cooling, I drove to my Grandma's deck to stand outside in the cold, masked and standing far apart, but most importantly still together.

Like so many families this year, we're finding ways to adapt and stay connected.

Lauren Smith's family made a socially distanced trip to see Santa this year.

"I thought it was fantastic because I was, you know, also concerned that Santa needs to be safe as well," Smith said. "We got to see Santa behind glass and you could hear him just fine. You could see him."

Paul Silverman added more to his outdoor display this year.

"A big six-foot Hanukkah Menorah," he said. "And also we have a six-foot dreidel."

He added that he wanted to bring just a bit more happiness to people who are now spending so much time at home and taking drives to see the holiday lights.

"It brings joy to my other brothers and sisters," Silverman said.

For his family, they will be having a smaller Hanukkah gathering this year.

"We have the traditional Hanukkah latkes for example. We light the Menorah, and we're just doing it now with our immediate family," Silverman explained.

The Gilmans celebrated Hanukkah with their extended family by lighting candles and opening presents over Zoom.

There won't be a big 86th birthday party for Sue Melena's mom this year.

She and her siblings usually decorate their mother's Christmas tree together to celebrate. Instead, this year they came masked and in separate shifts.

"It seems more important, so it's harder not to do it," Melena said. "It's very hard. I mean, I gave her a Christmas card that specifically said that, you know, 'Here's a birthday hug. I wish it could be a real one.'"

Kendall Beason's Christmas tradition is collecting donations for families in need.

Now 11 years old, Kendall started "Kendall's Kampaign" when she was just five. This year, she knew she had to keep it going but she is instead raising money online.

"A lot of people have lost their jobs and homes," Beason said. "A lot more people don't have the food they need. They don't have the money to buy it either."

You can support "Kendall's Kampaign," which collects donations to fight holiday hunger for Mt. Carmel Resource Center, on the center's website.

"This is something that Kendall feels is a calling on her life and we're gonna support it any way we can," her mother, Deanna Beason said.

Collier Cash Rule, 12, plays his guitar for his Grandpa through a window right now.

"It's pretty overwhelming emotionally. My dad has a really aggressive lymphoma and he got diagnosed right before Thanksgiving last year," Collier's mom, Jen Uhlenhake said.

"I think he's just happy that he gets to hear something, do something," Collier said.

This Thanksgiving and now Christmas, they will eat outside while grandpa eats inside. Another "Collier concert" will likely be on the menu.

"Collier and my dad are besties. They spend a lot of time together," Uhlenhake said. "So we just decided we have to figure out what the new normal is so we drag an amp and a lot of extension cords and a lot of guitars."

Adapting traditions in 2020 has changed many of their perspectives on the traditions themselves.

"It's forced, I know for us anyways, to really slow down and evaluate what's really important," Uhlenhake said.

Others agreed, no matter what the tradition is that they celebrate.

"There's so much more that we need to be focused on. our family and friends have been significantly impacted by COVID," Beason said. "That's really what this is about. family and the gift of family and the gift of life."

For many right now, the traditions themselves are a gift.

"Something that we just take for granted and when you don't have it, it just takes on a whole different meaning," Silverman said.