'Operation Save Christmas' — Avon family creates socially-distanced space to celebrate

Posted at 3:20 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 18:23:10-05

AVON, Ohio — As many families are trying to navigate the Christmas holiday in a safe and responsible way, one Avon family believes they’ve found the solution.

The Starkey family’s Christmas Eve looks different this year.

“Christmas Eve is usually our holiday,” Evan Starkey said.

Grandchildren, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents have been forced to get creative.

“We usually host a big family gathering on Christmas Eve of like 25 to 30 people,” Monica Starkey said. “Obviously that’s not happening this year with COVID.”

As Monica’s father battles leukemia, his family found an alternative way to spend the holiday.

“We wanted to make sure that he felt safe coming here,” Monica Starkey said.

They created a socially-distanced setup complete with heat lamps, digital fireplace simulators and spaced-out seating.

“Once we started we knew we were going to finish it right,” Mark Starkey said. “We just kept adding more things, more ribbons, more lights up here, bigger bulbs.”

While families are discouraged by the CDC from gathering indoors, the Starkey family said it was their only wish to save Christmas and put a 2020 spin on what was once a huge annual celebration.

“I wanted to make sure that they knew that even though Christmas is going to be different this year, it’s still going to be fun,” Monica Starkey said. “And it might be one of the more memorable Christmases that we have.”