The traditional holidays with the Butler family forced to change


Anne Queale

The Butler–Bryce, Landon, Austin, Michele, Max, Eric– family enjoys commemorating memories, especially around the holiday.

Mrs. Butler teared up at the thought of how her holiday traditions are changing because of Covid.  Photos adorn her wall with her loving kids– Austin, Bryce, Landon and Max. She continued to tear up at the fact that Austin would not be home for the holidays. The photo taken years ago, captures the whole family in matching red and black clothing, bringing back the holiday memories–before Covid–at the Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve. 

This year, the holidays bring the peak of the traveling season and the peak of Covid 19.  In Pennsylvania, the covid cases are at an all time high in November.  Everyone loves traveling around the holiday season because of time off and the fun, family traditions.  

New rules are being added to the covid restrictions. According to the Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, people need to wear a mask indoors and outdoors,  and maintain a 6 feet distance from your fellow neighbors. She also talked about the limits of traveling due to the virus and the constant covid testing, when traveling in and out of the state. 

Due to societal strictures, The Butlers can’t all be together for the holidays and enjoy their usual family gatherings. 

Because of that, Mrs. Butler has to change the Thanksgiving traditions they have done since her kids were very little. She used to be so excited for her family being together, now she is more concerned  than ever about keeping everyone healthy. Over the years, they have always spent Thanksgiving together and now all of that is changing.  

As she talked about her son, Austin, she was “broken” at the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to come home.  As a D1 athlete at Holy Cross College in Boston, Massachusetts, Austin has a commitment to his basketball family. The state is not letting people travel in and out without a covid testing being done, and the coach wants to keep all players as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

The most important thing to Mrs. Butler is family and the bond she has with her kids is unbreakable. Austin will be dearly missed for Thanksgiving. 

She said, “I’m tearing up.” 

“He [Austin] had to keep reassuring me that everything would be okay,” she said.

This is the first time that she will not have all her kids for Thanksgiving.  The whole family would always be together no matter the distance. Last year all went to Boca Raton, in Florida to watch Austin’s basketball game. No matter the place, they always tried to find a way to keep their family together.  In 2020 Austin will be spending Thanksgiving at college, even though this isn’t the first time.

 “Austin is away at school for Thanksgiving this year and he has been before. His freshman year we went to MA and had a huge celebration with his basketball family. We thought it would be a tradition,” she said.

 The sad part about this year is that the whole family will not be together and this is the first time that has happened.  He will be having a Thanksgiving dinner with his basketball team and the rest of the family will be having their Thanksgiving in Latrobe.“He will not have a normal Thanksgiving celebration. His coach said that they will probably be eating Thanksgiving meals on the turf, with masks, and socially distanced,” she expressed with sadness.

Austin’s younger brothers are confused at the fact he can’t come home.  They wanted to find a way to be together this Thanksgiving, but they can’t. The memories they make each holiday are ones to remember–this year the memories will be different.

“My boys love the holidays with each other…playing games, wrestling, having fun,” she said.

A bond between siblings is one that will always grow no matter how old they are.  Holidays are the times to spend time together and be able to relax and be surrounded by loved ones. 

Family is most important. I just want my family to be together

— Mrs. Butler

,” she said.

This year, family members are invited from all different places for a modified celebration at the Butlers, social distancing in mind. 

Mrs. Butler is worried for the sake of her mom, nieces and nephews. She talked about her mother wearing a mask inside the house, according to Levine rules.“If my mom has to wear a mask inside my house…it will just seem weird,” she said.

Although she is ok with with wearing a mask inside,  she is more concerned for her mother’s health. Mrs. Geitner may make the tough decision to not make it the Butler household.  

“I tried to reassure my mom that it would be okay if she isn’t at our traditional family Thanksgiving,” she said.

Mrs. Butler’s mother-in-law will be celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with the rest of her husband’s side of the family. She questions the travel of her nieces and nephews, coming from central Pennsylvania and Virginia, as the laws keep changing as to whether or not you can travel for the holidays.  She is very grateful for her family but would rather have everyone be safe. 

Their holiday plans are changing, as are many others. Thanksgiving is going to be different.  This is the first time she will not be having all her kids under one roof. This is their first time without her oldest and it won’t be the same.  Family is the most important thing, no matter how Covid invades the Holidays.