By Tim McNicholas

CHICAGO (CBS) — A road trip home for the holidays was over before it even got started for a Logan Square couple. Their gut told them to take a COVID test during a trip to the gas station and it was a good thing they did.

CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas with how the surge in cases is ruining Christmas plans.

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A stocking stuffer many people opened up early, an at-home COVID test.

They’re flying off the shelves this week and, in some cases, keeping families from spreading COVID.

The smell of mom’s pumpkin pie; that fresh Caprese salad, and never-ending dad jokes. That’s how Jon and Jen Knodell envisioned Christmas Eve.

But instead?

Jon: “Earlier my symptoms were pretty bad so.”

Jen: “He was out.”

The couple is stuck at home watching Christmas movies on Netflix and can only talk over the phone.

“We’re trying to keep our spirits up and make the best of it. We’re gonna Zoom with our family a little bit later,” Jon said.

The Knodells planned to drive from Logan Square to their family in Ohio Thursday night.

They couldn’t find any COVID tests in Chicago, so Jon bought some along the way in South Bend and took one test in the car.

100 miles from home, he got some positively bad news.

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“I just stared at it for a second just like is this serious. Is this happening? Are we really gonna drive back to Chicago,” Jon said.

Back to Chicago they went, and they’re not alone in their holiday headaches.

Other Chicagoans say their holiday party plans are a negative thanks to a positive test.

They all agreed, it’s better than unknowingly spreading the virus.

“Just really drives home how important it is for everybody to test,” Jon said.

Jon: “We thought we were cautious but.”

Jen: “Double vaccinated and boosted.”

Jon: “It still got us.”

The Knodells ordered themselves some extra Christmas gifts so they can spend more time unwrapping Christmas morning.

“We thought last year was a Christmas to remember but life always has other plans so well see what next year holds,” Jon said.

That’s just one of the stories I’ve heard today. Another man who celebrates at his cousin’s house every year tested positive and is now resting at home.

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A family who hosts every year but one of them is feeling sick, so they called it off. The list goes on with many quarantine Christmases happening due to COVID.

Tim McNicholas