Photo Essay: Home for the holidays

Chris Torres, Photo Editor

Christmas is the time of year for families to come together, open gifts, and enjoy the festivities the holiday season brings. From smaller gatherings to new beginnings, here is how the Sundial photography staff spent their Christmas at home this year.

Chris Torres

My name is Chris Torres, I am 21 years old and I currently reside in Porter Ranch, California. I am the photo editor of the Daily Sundial at CSUN and I’m on track to get my bachelor’s degree in journalism at the end of the upcoming spring semester.

Normally, my extended family and I gather at our house to feast, open presents and spend quality time with each other. However, due to the pandemic, we celebrated differently and only invited my grandparents. We usually have a food spread that is similar to Thanksgiving, but we changed the dinner to a seafood theme this year.

Some aspects of Christmas remained the same, including my annual visit to Candy Cane Lane and the joy of opening presents with the family.

The holiday concluded with a sunset that painted the San Fernando Valley sky with an orange and blue hue, which hopefully foreshadows an end to 2020 and a beautiful beginning to the new year.

Christmas Eve dinner ended with a sunset that painted the San Fernando Valley sky in an orange and blue hue. This was the view from my backyard. (Chris Torres)

Sonia Gurrola
Hello, my name is Sonia Gurrola and I live in Encino, California. I am a student at CSUN and I will be graduating with a double major in photojournalism and Chicano studies. 2020 has been a weird and crazy one. Even these special holidays have impacted my family and our normal traditions, just like most families. For Thanksgiving, we usually do a whole turkey feast and for Christmas, we feast on tamales.

Rita Gurrola, left, and Narciso Gurrola, right, work together to prepared tamales for Christmas dinner in Encino, Calif., on Dec. 23, 2020. (Sonia Gurrola)

What was different this year is we couldn’t invite a lot of people to the house to feast together, exchange presents and just spend that quality time that families normally do. Even though we couldn’t invite many of our loved ones to the house, my family still kept the tradition of making a feast.

On the American side, we had turkey for Thanksgiving and on the Mexican side, we had tamales for Christmas. The year 2020 was definitely different. And this year the best present that I received for Christmas wasn’t anything material such as the new iPhone, but it was the health of me and my family.

Yi Yu
My name is Yi Yu and I’m an international student from China who currently lives in Northridge. I’m a photojournalist for Daily Sundial and I’m currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree in film production and photography. My family and friends in China usually don’t celebrate Christmas, but since I came to the United States in 2017, my Christmas routine has changed into traveling and celebrating the holidays with friends in Europe.

In fact, this is the first Christmas I’ve spent in America. Since the majority of my friends here are Asian, we decided to order Chinese food to substitute the traditional Christmas meal and played a couple of board games on Dec. 23.

A table of Chinese food spread across the dinner table in celebration of Christmas in Los Angeles, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (Yi Yu)
The Chinese food consisted of spicy pork sausages, fried rice, grilled pork belly, fried tofu and more. (Yi Yu)

On Dec. 24, my partner and I made a very healthy Chinese/Japanese style dinner, which includes seafood soup, vegetable chowder with oyster sauce, rice and tamagoyaki.

Seafood soup, vegetable chowder, rice, and tamagoyaki are served on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. (Yi Yu)

The next day, we made a type of German cookie called cinnamon stars, which apparently isn’t the healthiest food out there — much like a majority of holiday food, I believe. I also made mulled wine and shared both the wine and the cookies with my other friends. We are all unsure of what 2021 has in store for us, but if we can make it through 2020, we’ve already become stronger.

Nadine Cortez
My name is Nadine Cortez, I am a journalism major and a theatre design/ technology minor. For Christmas, we mostly stayed at home, had a wonderful dinner and watched a movie together. We also celebrated my mom’s birthday and she prefers an intimate setting with the family. This year, we kept mostly the same routine, but what changed is what I do outside of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

I fell more in love with baking and making sweets and gave them out as gifts to friends and family. It was a heartwarming moment for me and I plan to continue this as a new tradition for many holidays to come.

This year, I decided to make boxes of Christmas treats to give to friends as a present. As shown, I made references to one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC. (Nadine Cortez)
In the boxes, I made cake pops and Christmas tree and candy cane-shaped, peppermint barks. Making these was a labor of love and I enjoyed every minute of it. I can see myself turning this into a holiday tradition for years to come. (Nadine Cortez)