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Published On: Tue, Dec 8th, 2020

A Latinx Guide to Surviving a Parrandaless Pandemic Holiday Season

By Maria Rodriguez-Morales

This time last year many familias across the country were finalizing fiestas, cleaning their fine dinnerware from the chinero, sazonando pavochones, deboning the pernil, boiling pasteles to masa perfection, and filling 2 liter Pepsi bottles with coquito. Across state lines and expressways, college students were preparing for the long holiday break and travelers were scrounging for the best flight deals. A year ago feels like a throwback during a pandemic. We have a new normal this year. Instead of gathering with our inter-generational families, we’re forced to reimagine a holiday season without tias y tios, primas y primos, los abuelos y vecinos. So, ¿en que quedamos?

Culturally speaking, the Latinx holidays in the US begins on Thanksgiving and ends on “El Dia de los Reyes Magos”. It is a series of preparation, finalization and celebration that warrants tradition and togetherness.  It is an expression of love and grace for the full bellies, laughter and good company that blesses our homes and reminds us that richness is an anomaly.

Presently, many of us are feeling crushed at the thought of not sharing a meal with our nearest and dearest, but the underlying threat is the very real risk of sharing something much more sinister than the new recipe your brother’s girlfriend found on Pinterest. En serio, dinner tables during the holidays across the country are breeding grounds for COVID-19 outbreaks if precautions are not in place. Here are some tips to surviving a parrandaless holiday season without sacrificing tradicíon.

1. Plan ahead! Think outside of Latinx time in order to steer clear of potential crowds. Shop off peak hours whenever possible. Minimize traveling. If traveling during peak hours, opt for an Uber instead of public transportation. If crowds are unavoidable, social distance as much as possible!

2. NY State guidelines for social gatherings are limited to 10 personas per household. For many of us, that is our entire household. This means any extended invitations will have to be Zoom certified and considering that fines for overpopulated social gatherings might cost you a PS5, one might want to reconsider that house party.  Sidenote: Zoom extended their 40 minute limit for free accounts especially for Thanksgiving, so no speed eating was necessary. Who knows? Maybe they will do the same for other winter holidays. Fingers crossed.

3. Speaking of eats, now is the perfect opportunity to perfect Mami’s recetas! Serve up a glass of vino and swap your favorite recipes. Communing en la cocina over chisme and comida is a favorite pastime for Latinx families. No matter how big or small the space, the kitchen is where the magic happens. A virtual cooking session is a safe bonding alternative and a great segue into the “y tu novio(a)”  question. Your answer: “Pues claro! En su cuarentena.” Checkmate.

4. Chances are we won’t be seeing much of Parrandas this year considering a full Bronx street orchestra replete with carolers goes against social crowd control policies. Break out the Güiro and maracas and create a bomb holiday playlist on your favorite music streaming service to keep the festive energy going at home. Mind the volume though!

5. If you are hosting your group of 10 or less for the holidays, stock up on disposables. Tossing all used utensils and dinnerware limits the spread of COVID-19 and takes the stress out of  clean up. Have hand sanitizer readily available. Stock up on handwashing soap and pour it into a pump dispenser that screams Crate and Barrel but is actually from Dollar Tree.  Make washing hands Insta-appealing. Think paper towels instead of hand towels.  Enhance air circulation by cracking open the windows. Social distance even in the home. These are all effective ways to contain the spread of COVID-19.

6. You’re never fully dressed without a mask. Especially if nostalgia catches you singing “La Fiesta de Pilito” at the top of your lungs while suzy-q’ing in your tacones. COVID-19 is spread through droplet contaminantes, so mimic the masked singer and protect those around you. A la Cardi, okurrrrr.

7. Don’t be trife, save a life. That’s right, if you are a visitor and plan on coming home for the holidays, wherever home may be, get tested. Not every COVID-19 carrier displays symptoms and unaware carriers are the most dangerous. Knowing your status beforehand prevents your immunocompromised loved ones from possible infection. Find out where to get tested free of cost to you by visiting NYC.gov/covidtest or call the NYC Test

& Trace Corps hotline at 212-COVID19. All results are confidential and nobody will ask about your immigration status or income.

8. Allow yourself time to decompress. Mental and emotional wellness during peak holiday season in the midst of a global pandemic is a necessity. Mental health is conducive to overall health. Take a deep breath and a long break when needed.

9. Pick up the phone. Social Media and virtual gatherings fatigue is real and for many of our elders, pidiendo la bendicion the old fashioned way over the phone is a fool-proof way to lighten their spirits and help fill the void. Spread the good vibes and make it personal.

10. Don’t feel guilty about turning down an invite. Staying home within the confines of your regular surroundings is your greatest safety net. Collective awareness is the new turn up! Spread the word on testing OFTEN and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Your future turn-ups depend on it.

NYC –> Stop waiting! Be proactive! Get tested and OFTEN!

Knowing your status is an effective way of containing the spread of Covid-19. The test itself is super fast, safe, confidential and at no cost to you.

Find a testing center at http://NYC.gov/covidtest or call 212-covid19.

#FightCOVIDNYC#TakeTheTest#NYC#COVID#COVID19

Maria Rodriguez-Morales is a Puerto Rican Writer and Performance Artist born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn.  Maria has been published in the New York Daily News, Me No Habla with Acento an Anthology of Contemporary Latino Poetry, Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College; Centro E-Zine, Huffington Post, Latin Trends and was also featured on Lifestyle Blog Boriqua Chicks as 10 Puerto Rican’s You Should Know.

A Latinx Guide to Surviving a Parrandaless Pandemic Holiday Season