Making a strange season as normal as possible

Making a strange season as normal as possible

The holidays are going to look a lot different this year due to the coronavirus. But people are doing their best to keep traditions alive.

United Methodist Church of Puyallup has been closed since March, “with no services in the building. Everything has been online,” said Rev. Cara Scriven, lead pastor.

On Dec. 24, online lessons and carols will be on Zoom at 5 p.m., and Christmas Eve communion service will air at 7. Church members can pick up a gift bag at the end of November containing candles and a devotional to celebrate the Advent season.

Family get-togethers will be very different this year, as well.

Tacoma resident Janet Bittner said Christmas was always her favorite holiday.

“As a little girl, we had a party for our extended family on Christmas Eve and mom made cookies, had drinks, and we laughed and played and had a fabulous time,’ she said.

In 1987, Bittner started hosting the holiday celebration in her home.

“Mom came with a ton of food and cookies and drinks and spent the night, so no matter how the Christmas Eve party changed, the one thing that didn’t was I was always with my mom on Christmas morning,” she said.

Bittner’s mom now lives in an assisted-living facility, and the only contact she has with her is the phone or visiting from the outside through her living-room window.

“This is the first time in 65 years I’m not with my mom for the holidays,” Bittner said.

The City of Puyallup is wrestling with how to help its residents safely celebrate the holiday season. City Manager Steve Kirkelie said there will be lights on the tree in Pioneer Park, along with candy-striped lights on poles and lights along Meridian. The annual tree-lighting ceremony won’t take place, but “we are going to do all the traditional events we can to brighten up downtown,” he said.

“Dealing with the pandemic is hard,” said Kirkelie, adding that it is particularly difficult for seniors.

“Many are isolated because their families can’t visit them or their spouses are in a long-term (care) facility. We really feel for the senior community,” he said.

Trudi Bocott, senior services assistant at the Puyallup Activity Center, said the center, despite still being closed during the pandemic, has whipped up an online Christmas event on Dec. 16 featuring the Fun Singers. More information on the performance will be available in December by logging in to the city’s web page at

There won’t be a Santa Parade in Puyallup this year, but Main Street Association president Kerry Yanasak is pleased that Sound Transit has donated $2,000 to paint 50 windows on downtown businesses.

“We want to make a big wow for people driving down Meridian,” said Yanasak.


Joan Cronk, who wrote this article, is a freelance writer from Puyallup.


Like many law enforcement agencies this time each year, Puyallup Police chief Scott Engle said his department is gearing up for the holiday season. It’s focusing on the community doing online shopping due to the virus and the accompanying threat of packages being stolen off porches.

Since everyone, and particularly seniors, may be doing a lot of online shopping, the Puyallup PD’s community engagement coordinator, Kerianne Cockerel, who according to Engle is a great resource for seniors to stay safe, can be reached at 253-841-5415.

As always, the department will also be on the lookout for impaired drivers. “This is a priority,” he said.