A Very Merry Holiday Redo
Like many companies, DADA Goldberg, a real estate and design public relations agency in New York City, canceled its annual holiday dinner after a handful of employees tested positive for Covid-19 during the Omicron surge in December.
But the holiday spirit would not be dampened for long. So many events and celebrations had been called off since the onset of the pandemic that the company “wanted to do something,” said Anthony DeWitt, 33, a senior vice president, to make up for “what we lost.”
“We had also given the venue a nonrefundable deposit,” he added, laughing.
So on Feb. 28, after everyone had taken rapid Covid tests, the team gathered at Empire Diner, a hip restaurant in Chelsea, for a holiday-party redo.
Mr. DeWitt and his colleagues dressed presentably for what felt like the first time in ages. They spent the evening drinking martinis and dining on oysters, rib-eye steak and cacio e pepe risotto. (They opted to skip the white elephant gift exchange.)
The atmosphere was so happy that it didn’t feel strange to be celebrating the holidays two months late. “It felt like a warm holiday dinner,” Mr. DeWitt said. “We turned it into this bonding thing.”
The Omicron variant arrived in the United States just in time to ruin many holiday celebrations. Now that its wave has subsided here, families, friends and colleagues are giving their gatherings another shot — eating the same foods, putting up the same decorations and performing the same rituals they would have back in December. Some are finding the belated celebrations even more meaningful because they know not to take them for granted.
When the flu and then Covid delayed her family’s Hanukkah celebration, Barbara Blankfeld, 61, a school administrator in University Heights, Ohio, decided she would not accept another loss.
“When Covid first happened we missed Passover, and that was hard, and then we missed Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,” she said, referring to the spring and early fall of 2020. “It was really awful for me. We aren’t a big family, but we have our mishpachah,” — the Yiddish word for family or social unit — “and our traditions.”
So on a Sunday in late January, she invited her two adult sons, 33 and 28, and their partners, along with close family friends, to come over for latkes and jelly doughnuts. Like they did every year before the pandemic, they lit the menorah together and drank champagne. She gave out gifts and even decorated her house with holiday banners and her special collection of silver bowls.
Celebrating Hanukkah belatedly made her cherish it even more. “If anything, delaying the holiday makes it sweeter, because you are finding a way to make it happen no matter what life has thrown in your path,” she said.
However grateful they were to be gathering, others felt that celebrating a cherished holiday on a random date left something to be desired.
On Jan. 9, Katie McClain, an owner of a fragrance company who lives on the Lower East Side, met her parents at her sister’s house in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn for a better-late-than-never Christmas celebration. (A family member had tested positive on the actual holiday; they all tested before coming together in January.)
They ate gingerbread, stuffed each other’s stockings and opened presents under the tree. (“The tree was still up, but it was on its last leg,” said Ms. McClain, 36. “We had to take off the ornaments because the branches were too weak.”)
They even told her nephews, ages 8 and 5, that the presents came from Santa. He accidentally delivered them to the wrong place, so there was a little delay, they explained.
While they went through the same motions they would have on Dec. 25, something felt off, Ms. McClain said. “Christmas is the one day where it feels like the world stops,” she said. “I didn’t get that stillness on this random Sunday.” Her brother-in-law was leaving for a business trip later that day, and her nephews both had school the next day.
“The Christmas magic was not there,” she added, saying her family felt the same way.
But there can certainly be upsides to postponing a winter soiree.
Adam Michael Royston, 30, who works for a L.G.B.T.Q. youth center in San Francisco, has held a 200-person holiday party at his house with his partner every year for the last eight years. “We’ve been told that our holiday party is the one other people plan their events around,” he said. “We were planning it for this year when Omicron hit.”
Since he had to delay his party anyway, he said, why not wait until the weather gets nice and do a summer garden party instead? “It kind of allowed us to rethink what we really wanted to do,” he said. Plus: “Being outside is good because it alleviates people’s fears.”
The bash is now in the works for July, and Mr. Royston has already decided on a few details. The six artificial Christmas trees will come out of storage and be decorated extravagantly, as usual. The gingerbread house decorating activity will go ahead. He isn’t sure about playing Christmas music, however.
“I am thinking maybe we go for a more French Riviera vibe,” he said.
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