Pandemic Holidays: How those around our community are creating new traditions

Local News

Families and organizations are putting a new spin on something old

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – In a year unlike any other, it seems like 2020 has thrown the kitchen sink into many of our plans.

With Thanksgiving and the holiday period quickly approaching, those throughout communities across Northeast Wisconsin are putting a new spin on something old.

In a normal year, Lambeau Field would be one of the destinations for those families looking to have a Thanksgiving Day meal in the community. However, due to restrictions with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, that won’t be happening in a weeks’ time. Instead, they are just one of many who are finding new traditions.

What some thought would be resolved by the end of the year, the Covid-19 pandemic has lasted well into the festive period. With case numbers dwindling in some states, others- like Wisconsin- have seen a rise. Travel at this time of the year has been a staple for holidays- but this year, it may come with a price.

“That is, unfortunately, a risk,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci in an interview with CBS News This Morning. “When you have people coming from out of town, gathering together in an indoor setting. You don’t know what the status of it is. It is unfortunate because it is such a sacred part of American tradition- the family gathering around Thanksgiving.”

With a pandemic throwing a lot of people’s plans aside, some are finding new ways to celebrate old traditions. The Fanta family in De Pere couldn’t be with family this Thanksgiving, so- they’ve decided to give back to the community. They’re hosting a garage sale- with clothing items available to those in need.

“People who are in need of hats, gloves, scarves, and things like that- the driveway is open so they can just come and grab what they need,” says Andrea Fanta from De Pere. “They can donate things if they have extra things. It’s just our way to be able to give back and donate some of our time this year since we can volunteer at other places.”

While the pandemic has separated many through social distancing, it’s also provided new ways to bring us closer. For the Fantas, it’s no different.

“Being able to kind of bring people together in a time where it’s difficult to bring people together is something that feels good to be able to do,” said Aaron Fanta. “Being able to help out your neighbor is always something that you want to be able to do yourselves and pass along to your kids. It’s very important to us.”

Meanwhile- on the other side of De Pere- Mitchell Samuelson and Emily Stryker are also navigating the new territory that is celebrating a holiday amid a pandemic…as well as moving to a new home.

“We’re going to be jumbled, but that’s okay!” says Stryker. “Just with how the market has been period- we just noticed what we could pull out of our house and it just felt like the right time for us. And luckily it’s not a far move, it’s only about two miles away so that makes it much easier!”

Typically, the family of four travel for the holiday- visiting family in Milwaukee. They’ve decided to put all immediate travel plans on hold.

“Our kids have totally acclimated to their new environment,” said Stryker. “They’re 2 and 3 and they don’t have much to compare it back to. So cookies and turning on the Macy’s Day Parade- I’m not going to forget about that this year- and blasting some music, and just be happy! I mean, that’s what they really need.”

For more than 30 years, Christian Outreach has been hosting a Thanksgiving meal to those across the community. They will continue that tradition this year- just a little differently.

“I’m very glad that we decided to still go ahead with the meal,” said Jessica Zeitler, President of Christian Outreach. “We are a little nervous about doing it in a safe way and not harming those that do assist. We’ve worked really hard to make sure we’re doing it as safe as possible.”

In a normal year, meals with the Christian Outreach group would be served here, in the atrium of Lambeau Field. But due to Covid-19, it’s made them- much like others this year- rethink how to go about Thanksgiving.

“We’re delivering 2,200 meals to everybody at their residence,” said Zeitler. “We are not needing as many volunteers, which is a sad thing because we love seeing our volunteers each year. We are changing a little bit about how we’re doing the meal. Instead of delivering a hot meal with the cold sides, everything is going to be cooked but it’s going to be cold and then they can heat it up at their convenience.”

It may not be what many are accustomed to, but it’s still providing a sense of tradition. And maybe, that’s exactly what’s needed right now.

“That’s the part that’s going to be hard- it’s not the normal Thanksgiving,” says Zeitler. “But, thankfully, we’re still able to do this and next year we pray and hope we’ll be back here in the atrium.”

Despite being fully booked for their reserved meals, Christian Outreach are still looking for volunteers. You can find more information on how to sign-up by going online right here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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