PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Christmas is right around the corner, and central Illinoisans are picking up holiday dinner. WMBD-TV caught up with several shoppers at Pottstown Meat and Deli in Peoria.

“We wanted a full beef brisket to smoke, so this is the place to come,” said Gary Friedlund of Germantown Hills.

With the newest COVID-19 variant, Omicron, surging across the county, some have opted to change their dinner plans.

“Our family has decided that we’re going to just try to go low key this year. We normally have as many as 60 of us together, but its going to be individual families it looks like,” said Joe Couri of Peoria.

“It made our gathering smaller because we have some family that has been exposed to COVID, so it will be a little smaller than usual,” said Kriste Eden.

“We’re just staying at home. My son and family live across the street, so they’re just coming over for dessert. Because of COVID we’re trying to be safe. We both have autoimmune problems and immunodeficiencies, so its best to hunker down,” said Friedlund.

Friedlund, who played Santa for 15 years during the holidays, said COVID-19 is keeping him from doing a gig he loves, for the second year in a row.

“I love doing it and I missed having those kids on my lap… I have lines of kids that want to come up to hug Santa and talk to him, and I miss that,” he said.

He said hopefully next year will be different.