By Kate Raddatz

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a tradition for Heather Cmiel to host Christmas Eve for her family. This year, it will be just her and her husband. They’re staying home and ordering takeout from a local restaurant.

“Both my husband and I work in healthcare, and we definitely knew early on that … the holidays were gonna look different,” Cmiel said.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people avoid traveling and stay home this holiday season to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as hospitals across the country are strained.

The Minnesota Department of Health is not recommending gathering, but does allow gathering indoors with one other household with a maximum of 10 people. Outdoor gatherings can allow for three households with a maximum of 15 people. Social distancing among households is still required.

Robbinsdale resident Erin Brager and her husband are going to see his mom and sister for Christmas, downsizing from their five Christmas celebrations often with dozens of people.

“Thanksgiving is really, OK you eat, you can eat wherever, right? Christmas is more of like gathering, about family and just like enjoying time together,” Brager said.

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They both have large families, but have hardly seen any family since their first child was born in October.

“It’s definitely been a struggle,” Brager said.

Several viewers said they were exchanging gifts via Zoom. Others are quarantining before seeing family in person. Some said they were going ahead with normal plans.

Cmiel says she’s focusing on a slower, more relaxed pace this holiday

“It’s definitely sad, but we’re reframing it as new traditions for our family to make this year,” Cmiel said.

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More than 84.5 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday season despite restrictions.

Kate Raddatz