Several BYU students won’t be returning home for the holidays this year. For some, it’s their first time spending Christmas away from their families, and for others who haven’t been home in a few years, this year won’t be much different.
BYU student David Jones from Texas isn’t going home for Christmas. For the past two Christmases he was serving his mission, and the Christmas before his mission he was attending Texas A&M, making it easier for him to drive home.
Jones said there were several reasons he decided not to go home for Christmas this year. “Now I’m in Utah, and I’m also a member of the Utah National Guard so every month I have to do drill, so that’s the reason,” he said. “And I also am not going to pay $400 for a plane ticket right now.”
Jones said he’s still trying to figure out what he’s going to do for Christmas, but overall he feels okay about not going home this year.
Ashley Rivera is a BYU student from Florida, and she won’t be returning home for Christmas for several reasons. “First of all, the tickets to go are kind of expensive,” she said. She also still has her apartment contract here. “Paying rent and going home for two weeks doesn’t sound too great, especially since I live so far away.”
Besides finances, Rivera said another reason she and her family decided it would be best for her to stay in Utah this Christmas is that her family has been extra cautious during the pandemic because her mom is older. Rivera doesn’t want to have to worry about coming and leaving and possibly getting her family sick.
Rivera isn’t sure what she will end up doing for Christmas either, since she doesn’t have family in the area, but is hoping to do something to celebrate with her roommates.
Jonah Lindsay grew up in Texas, but shortly before he left to serve a mission, his parents moved to Provo so his mom could attend BYU. This will be his first Christmas away from Texas, but he will be spending it with his parents here in Provo. He said he is sad about not being able to go to Texas and do the normal traditions.
Lindsay said Christmas this year will look very different for him, although he will still be with his parents, he won’t be able to gather with any extended family because of COVID-19 precautions.
BYU student Jailene Cardenas is an international student from Mexico, and this Christmas will look pretty much the same as other Christmases for her because she hasn’t traveled home for the past few years.
It’s very costly to travel to and from Mexico, and she is worried that if she leaves the U.S., she might not be able to get back in. For the past couple of years, she has stayed in Utah to celebrate the holidays.
Cardenas has family in the area, as well as her boyfriend who is from Lindon, so she will spend time with them this Christmas. She said she is still sad she won’t be able to be with all her siblings for Christmas. “I’m kind of getting used to it now, that I’m not going to see them,” Cardenas said. “At the beginning, it was very sad for me, but now I’m more used to it.”
Megan Barnes, a BYU student from Alaska, will still have Christmas with her family, but it’s going to be very different this year. Barnes’s family usually celebrates Christmas at home in Alaska, but this year her family decided to travel to Utah instead.
“Honestly I’m kind of bummed because I didn’t go home at all this year,” Barnes said. “It’s been a year since I’ve seen my family, because of COVID.” Although Barnes will be spending Christmas with her immediate family, she will be missing some of her extended family, including her grandparents, in Alaska.
Aurora Golden-Appleton is a BYU student from upstate New York but will be spending her holidays here in Provo. Her family has done the exact same thing every year for Christmas since she’s been born, but her family won’t have their normal celebration this year.
Golden-Appleton and a lot of her family members work in healthcare and are very cautious about COVID-19. She said the only way she and her family would feel comfortable for her to travel home just isn’t very pragmatic this year.
“We’re not doing any sort of family gatherings,” Golden-Appleton said. “So, going home for me would have entailed something different this year anyway.”
She said she feels bittersweet about not being able to travel home for the first time for the holidays. “I know that if I went home it wouldn’t be normal,” Golden-Appleton said. “It’s just letting go of that need for some sort of normalcy, just for a year.”
Golden-Appleton doesn’t plan to attend any sort of gatherings for the holidays this year. She works at Utah Valley Hospital as a CNA and will be working throughout the break.