Families find ways to feel together while COVID keeps them apart

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 5:25 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2020 at 3:57 AM EST
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MANCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - The new temporary ban on multi-household gatherings in Vermont has forced many families across our region to change their Thanksgiving plans. Our Adam Sullivan introduces you to one of those families.

Thanksgiving is a time for families to come together around a big meal and celebrate the little things that make us all grateful. But this is not an ordinary year and we are all affected in one way or another.

“We were planning to have Thanksgiving at our house and my brother was going to come up and some of the cousins and my parents,” said Suzanne Mears of Manchester.

The holidays, for friends and family across our region, are very important. And that includes Suzanne Mears.

“My grandfather passed away this last March and I think coming together this year more than ever would have been really special,” she said.

Mears lives in Manchester and often hosts her extended family around the holidays, as her pictures from 2018 show. But this year, she had to cancel.

“It was really difficult because like I was saying, holidays, in particular, I think for many families, but ours, we do live a few hours apart so this is a time that we really look forward to,” she said.

Vermont has had strict quarantine requirements for travelers coming from other states. Mears’ parents live in Massachusetts.

“It’s been hard to try to get to see them because you know you got to quarantine when they come back, things like that. So it is hard, I miss it,” said Susan Fontas, Mears’ mom.

In addition to the travel restrictions, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott recently issued a temporary ban on multifamily gatherings. State officials say they have been the main driver of increased cases of COVID-19.

“It’s all about family and when you can’t get together, you are sad,” said Paul Fontas, Mears’ dad.

But even though these parents miss their daughter and the rest of their family, they realize it’s the right thing to do.

“Let’s get through this year so we can have next year,” Paul Fontas said.

And there are some bright sides to the pandemic. Like for instance, catching up with old friends over the phone.

“What amazes me, at least we can have this virtual thing going on so at least we can feel we are part of everybody,” Paul Fontas said.

“That is just kind of the times we are in,” Mears said. “You control what you can control and you make it a positive.”

I’ve actually known Suzanne for years. I grew up with her older brother, Mark. But their story represents any family making a sacrifice for the greater good.

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