At Molly Day’s 2019 cookie party and contest, head cookie judge Heather Galvin announces rules and procedures as Frank Simon peruses the treats on which the two will be passing judgment. TREY JUDY

Celebrations have been different this year. We’ve canceled graduations and proms, postponed weddings and hosted birthday parties through Zoom.

Normally, we look forward to holidays, but this year they just haven’t been the same. It’s been difficult, but we’ve made the most of it.

With cases of COVID-19 once again skyrocketing around the world, medical experts are still saying we should avoid gatherings, something especially difficult during Hanukkah and Christmas.

For the past eight years, Bluffton attorney Molly Day and her husband, Trey Judy, have hosted a festive Christmas party for between 50 and 100 friends.

“It didn’t seem socially responsible,” Day said. “We’d been hoping it might change. We were just doing what the rest of the world was doing – watching the situation.”

Unfortunately, the situation has not gotten better, so this year’s party is off.

One of the highlights of Day’s party is a cookie decorating contest, which is judged by real-life judges – Beaufort County associate probate judge Heather Galvin, along with former probate judge Frank Simon.

Her Christmas party wasn’t the first celebration Day had to call off this year. She had to cancel their annual “Friendsgiving” meal, which usually includes at least 20 people.

Day also had to cancel a big celebration she had planned for her husband’s 60th birthday. She had rented 10 houses for Labor Day weekend and the Corner Perk for a lip sync competition. It all had to be canceled because of the pandemic.

While Day’s Christmas party is canceled this year, the cookie contest will go on. Day will invite her friends to pick up individually wrapped cookies with sprinkles, decorate them at home and enter them into the competition. After the winners are announced, they will pick up their prizes from the front porch.

Christmas will be different this year for Joni and Bill Bosse, too. But that doesn’t mean the holiday is ruined.

The couple recently moved to Hilton Head Island from Toledo, Ohio. Their six children and seven grandchildren are spread out over four states.

The Bosses usually have about 10 people over on Christmas Eve, then go to their son’s house in Chicago on Christmas Day. They didn’t feel it was safe to travel this year.

“We all mutually have decided it’s not a good idea this year,” Joni said. “There’s just too much risk. And more and more people that we know … are getting positive diagnoses.”

So, this Christmas, the Bosses will celebrate with their daughter and granddaughter who also live on Hilton Head.

Joni and Bill have learned to focus on their blessings. They were both widowed with three children each when they first met in 1998 in Ann Arbor, Mich. They married in 1999.

Now the family is mourning another loss. Their daughter who lives on Hilton Head unexpectedly lost her fiancé in January. Joni and Bill moved to the island to be near her and her daughter.

“We’ve been through life and death,” Joni said. “We’ve both had a spouse die in our arms. Our kids all lost a parent when they still needed a parent. They were teen-age and early 20s. We’ve been through a lot of losses.”

Kelly McClure of Hilton Head has always loved Christmas. She loves decorating for Christmas and is “a little obsessed” with vintage Christmas decor. She has an extra special place in her heart for vintage aluminum Christmas trees, which she’s been collecting for about a decade.

Last year, McClure decided to share her beloved Christmas decor with the public. She hosted an “Aluminum Forest” open house at her home on North Port Royal Drive. Since she and her husband have two rescue dogs from Hilton Head Humane Association, McClure charged admission to the event to raise money for the organization.

This year, McClure can’t host a fundraiser in her home, but she’s still sharing her Christmas spirit with the world, or at least a large number of people. She was invited by her friend and fellow mid-century tree lover Theron Georges to bring her trees and join him in his Space Age Christmas Trees Exhibit, which opened Nov. 27 at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum in Houston.

The event, which is open through Jan. 3, features just more than 100 aluminum trees – of which about half are McClure’s, and the remainder belong to Georges (who is the author of “The Wonderful World of Evergleam”).

Since her vintage trees are in Houston, McClure has put more effort into her outside display this year.

“I’ve always done a pretty big, colorful outdoor display, but I’m really trying to channel what I’ve always done inside and make my yard a really happy place to pass by,” McClure said.

You won’t see any inflatables in her yard. McClure has created her own unique, whimsical decorations for the outdoors display. She has also turned her inside decorations to face the windows for passersby to enjoy.

McClure would love people to stop by and see her decorations any time between Dec. 5 and the first week of January. She said there will be decorations on every side of the house, and guests are welcome to drive by or walk around the yard.

McClure would love to raise more money for the Humane Association and will be accepting any donations people would like to give. For a pass, call 404-964-6247 or email The home is located at 36 N. Port Royal Drive.

“I took my consolation from “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,’” McClure said. “No matter how hard he tried to make Christmas not come – and 2020 has been such a downer – Christmas is coming, and nothing can stop it. We have to find our joy, and we have to try to offer joy to others.”

Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.