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What was once a gathering of 25-30 people is now limited to 5 – one local family downsizes for Thanksgiving due to rising COVID cases

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BRIDGEPORT, IL. (WTHI) - The Johnson family of Bridgeport, Illinois is no stranger to the dangers of COVID-19.

That is why they’re choosing to keep Thanksgiving simple.

No matter how much it pains them to be separated from their loved ones for the 2nd consecutive year.

What used to be a Thanksgiving celebration consisting of, "25 to 30 people, we would even have some of them out in the garage." Is now a fraction of the amount -- with just mom Jamie, dad Tim, daughter Olivia, son Liam, and grandma Regina.

They are keeping things intimate this year, and for good reason. 

You may recall Jamie from a story we did back in early November -- when we told you about her near-death battle with COVID-19.

Well, the horrors of her experience still linger over the family. Especially, her mother.

"I thought I was losing her, and I couldn't stand it. I only have two children; I can't lose one," Regina Emmons said. 

Family…means everything to the Johnson's. That's why Thanksgiving is such a big deal in their household.

"I usually do most of the cooking, and I don't have it to do now...just for us," Emmons said.

The family is taking every precaution to ensure that one day, they can return to a sense of normalcy.

Five-year-old Liam, and 11-year-old Olivia just received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They'll get their second  in just a few weeks.

"It didn't even hurt," Liam Johnson said.

They are staying optimistic that once they are fully vaccinated, they will be able to enjoy the world as they once knew it. 

"Go to my best friends house and finally hang out with her because I have missed her, and I can't even see her," Olivia Johnson said.

But for now...they are staying cautious.

However, mom and dad say that with their kids getting ready to roll up their sleeves for their second dose...Christmas could be a different narrative than Thanksgiving.

"I am hopeful that we will get to spend Christmas with them," Jamie Johnson said.

The Johnson's encourage everyone who is eligible to get the vaccine, so you can celebrate the holidays safely. 

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