Worthy Point of View: Continue holiday traditions while keeping loved ones safe

Matt Greeson
Guest columnist

Editor's note: After the publication of this city of Worthington guest column in the Nov. 19 edition of the ThisWeek Worthington News, the city and the Worthington Partnership canceled the Old Worthington Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting scheduled Sunday, Nov. 29, because of worsening conditions during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Residents are invited to check experienceworthington.com for information about ways they can support small businesses in Worthington, according to city spokesperson Anne Brown.

With the holiday season upon us, it is safe to say that this year will be like none we have experienced or ever expected.

To quote a familiar tune, typically this time of year we’d be anticipating going “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house.”

Matt Greeson

But the unfortunate reality is, with the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and surging cases in Ohio and across the U.S., that trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house or any gathering with people who don’t live in your own home could put the health and lives of our most treasured loved ones and friends at risk.

Human nature pulls us together, but this year, we must be creative, smart and safe about how we celebrate the holidays.

Even though we can’t crowd around a table with extended friends and family, you still can feel close throughout the holidays by sharing in the same rituals and family traditions.

You could video chat from the kitchen while you are cooking up your Thanksgiving feast, have a virtual potluck at which each person shares the recipe of their favorite dish, create a shared play list or have a virtual sing-along.

You could have a virtual game night, movie or sports viewing event over Facetime or Zoom, or you could meet outside at a park and take a walk together while remaining physically distant.

You could send care packages and include notes about what you are thankful for. Or you could check in on your neighbors who might be without nearby family or at a higher risk of illness and deliver food or well wishes in a way that does not involve close contact.

There are many ways to continue your holiday traditions and keep your loved ones safe.

In Worthington, we know how important our community’s holiday traditions are to you and your family.

Worthington’s holiday events and activities might look different this year. Most have been reimagined to still occur but with social distancing in mind.

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, the Old Worthington Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting still is scheduled. Families are invited downtown to experience the sights and sounds of the holiday season, enjoy live music or a horse-drawn carriage ride, shop in downtown businesses and take in the decorative It's a Wonderful Window Contest. Instead of a large event to light the holiday tree, the tree illumination will take place over a two-hour period, with lighting and recorded music every half hour starting at 6 p.m. so families may attend at their leisure, take pictures and avoid a big crowd.

The Illuminated Shopping event also will light up Old Worthington in December, so take a stroll downtown to enjoy the lights and decorations that will be shining brightly in traditional Worthington fashion.

Changes also are in store for the traditional Firefighters for Kids toy drive, and the need is greater than ever.

To keep our first responders safe, no drive-through drop-off event will be held at the fire station. Instead, monetary donations are being encouraged online, with limited toy drop-off opportunities at the fire station. Look for details about the toy drive and more information about Worthington’s holiday events on the city’s website, worthington.org.

One thing that remains unchanged this year is how important it is to support our local businesses.

This has been a challenging year for local business owners. It is important to make Worthington restaurants and retail stores the first stop for your holiday shopping and meal planning. Stores and restaurants are following all health protocols and are safe for you to visit and shop in person. Remember to wear your mask and maintain social distancing.

Many businesses also have ways to order and shop online. You can find more information, including hours, online options and other ways to support your local businesses at experienceworthington.com/small-business-support.

On behalf of the city of Worthington and our community partners, we wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

Matt Greeson is Worthington's city manager.