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Rolling with the times: Family gathers in parking lot to celebrate Christmas Eve

With Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine advising families to limit traditional Christmas get-togethers, a Northwest Ohio family brought their celebration outdoors.
Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 1:05 AM EST
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ROSSFORD, Ohio (WTVG) - For the Joldrichensen family, it’s not Christmas without time spent with loved ones.

“Family is really important,” said Andrea Joldenrichsen. “My sons are 33 and 30 and they have done this every Christmas Eve. They have been with the Joldenrichsen family since birth, so this is really important to them to see their family.”

Every year Joldrichensen family members ranging from 13 to 90 all come together for a Christmas Eve dinner, but this year due to the pandemic, the family had to cancel.

“My kids look forward to it,” said Kelly Joldrichensen. “They were really bummed when we had to cancel due to COVID because every year they love it, they really love it.”

Instead of sitting around the dinner table this year, the family spent their Christmas Eve standing around the pavement. Carloads of the Joldenrichsen clan all rolled into the Kirklands parking lot located off US-20 in Rossford, adopting a new tradition.

“We figured we’d try to be safe and meet out here and have a somewhat normal Christmas Eve,” said Kelly Joldrichensen.

The Joldrichensens exchanged gifts, mingled, and took pictures with one another on the asphalt pavement. The family all wore masks and followed social distancing protocol hoping to keep loved ones safe, including the family’s oldest member, MaryAnne Joldrichensen.

“She was really upset that we canceled Christmas Eve,” said Kelly Joldrichensen. “She’s 90, so she was really, really upset, but we did this and she was really excited about the idea.”

Although the Joldrichensen family were surrounded by pink skies and fluorescent parking lot lights instead of their usual dining room Christmas Eve view, they say they’re thankful just to be able to see the ones they love most.

“It’s better than doing nothing,” said Andrea Joldrichensen. “But it doesn’t begin to replace the camaraderie and laughter or fun that we have.”

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