Note: Prior to the writing of this article, students have already begun to return home following a spike in COVID cases on campus and the university’s decision to move courses online for the remainder of the term. Read more about the university’s decision and new protocols here.

As students and staff of Pacific University talk about plans for the holiday season, many seek any option to make the best of their time off, even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Even with safety protocols and precautions, students and staff can still enjoy a holiday season filled with joy and happiness. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Being away from home for four months can take a toll on students, especially since many aren’t local to Oregon. This time off will be a great way for students to regroup themselves, relax, and spend quality time with the people they love before the start of the upcoming semester.

Many students are also relying on this holiday season to catch up with all that they’ve missed while being at school. Senior Anthony Manzon is looking forward to going back home and spending time with his family.

“My goal for this Thanksgiving break and winter break is to spend quality time with my family and make sure that I have good times with them,” Manzon said. 

Family and friends mean everything in a time of stress. They’re the ones who will help people relax and forget about all that you’re worried about. Junior Laura Dias is excited to go  home and be physically with the people she cares about dearly, but she is still taking precautions with safety regulations. 

“I am super excited to see them all again in person since it has been through screens for awhile, but it’ll be a little different 6 feet apart with masks on,” Dias said. 

The time at home with friends and family means a lot during the holiday season. Some people take advantage of the time off and dive into activities or hobbies that they like to do. Pacific’s American Sign Language Professor Frederick Stamps looks to continue his gardening projects in his time off from teaching. 

“I plan on building a garden staircase with my daughter and my 9-year-old son, even though it’s not gardening season. I want to spend time with them away from work,” Stamps said. 

All in all, it seems that everyone has at least some of their holiday break planned out. In times like this, people need to outweigh the negative with the positives given the current state of the world. There is a lot going on, and the holiday season won’t be exactly how it was a year ago. Change is a virtue, and many people have been through numerous obstacles throughout the year. 

As a senior, Anthony Manzon knows everything about Pacific, but nothing like this pandemic has ever happened during his four years at the university. He knows that things, including his graduation, will be different. 

“It does suck with the restrictions we have. But I feel we have gotten used to it because it has become the norm as of the present. We just have to keep moving forward and hopefully things get better from here,” Manzon said. 

With his position at Pacific University, Professor Stamps has to monitor not just his children at home, but the many students, as well as other faculty members, that he affiliates himself with. He knows that keeping your head up in times like this will only make the world better.

“Things need to get worse in order to become better. We will get through this, but it’s going to require a lot of patience and tenacity,” Stamps said. — Todd Takeuchi

Photo: Pacific’s Forest Grove campus will soon be empty once again as students return home for the holiday season (Todd Takeuchi)

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Todd Takeuchi is a junior transfer who is majoring in Journalism, with a minor in Film/Video Production. He is from Torrance, CA and hopes to make a career in the sports media industry.

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