It’s been a heck of a year, not in a good way. We’ve been locked down, locked out, stuck without being to visit friends and family if they’re not within a certain bubble.
People have died, people have suffered. COVID-19 has not been good to anyone in any way.
Back in March most of the country decided to follow the government advice and lockdown, self-isolate, wear masks, stay two metres apart, shop for only essentials, not go to the pub, not visit relative or friends either in their own home or in care homes, hundreds of thousands of people turned a corner of their livingroom into an office and worked from home. Key workers were applauded, rightly so.
Away back in March no one really expected to still be living under mostly the same restrictions here in mid-to-late November, mere weeks before Christmas with all the leaders telling us that Christmas will be different. Digital Christmas was talked about, Christmas via Skype or Zoom.
However, by now, everyone is a bit fed up. People haven’t seen loved ones for months and it was all okay as long as Christmas was going to be normal. Christmas is going to be different, there’s nothing we can do to change it, we’ll have to look at it differently.
There has, though, been a great thing that’s happened in the face of all the doom and gloom. People are putting their decorations up early and it’s great to see. Trees and lights in windows, people sharing pictures of their living rooms all ready for the festive season. My hairdresser put her tree up two weeks ago, I happened to be in the same day.
It’s lovely to see, lights brightening everything up. Even our local tree is up with lights on. I only have a small space for a tree but it’s up with drummer boys and angels around it and a very tipsy looking fairy on top, she’s currently leaning against the wall. I’m sure she won’t be the only one this Christmas!
For the first time in a long time I haven’t rolled my eyes at Christmas music playing in shops even though it’s November. It’s nice to hear it. It’s a positive sound. Even for me and I can take or leave Christmas as I always used to work it quite a lot. For a few years now Christmas Day has been about the turkey dinner. I love it. The full works. Sprouts and all.
That Christmas will probably have to be a smaller affair for most people and this got me thinking about family Christmases in the eighties and nineties. Oh our family knew how to get together. Usually at Nana’s house. So, there was Nana, my mum and dad, one auntie, her husband two cousins, another auntie and two cousins, my uncle and whoever he was dating that year (later his wife and two cousins) and me! My sister arrived later but did make appearance the Christmas before her birth as a gigantic swelling in my mothers stomach, well, womb.
It was always brilliant. Although, for the kids, tiring. We’d run around stupid, eat too much, feel sick and be dozing in various places around the house by about seven in the evening.
The Christmas dinner for all these people was cooked in a tiny kitchen on a gas cooker. Dinner was eaten at two pasting tables placed end to end with a couple of festive tablecloths. The seating really was at all different levels depending on who brought what. Someone would be on a bar stool, another in a deck chair, someone usually had to sit on the sofa. Usually the tallest person sat on the bar stool and someone who needed winched out sat in the deck chair, there was no order to it but it all worked.
Christmas music would play on the record player, Bing Crosby, Slade, Wham.
Crackers popped and hats were worn, the terrible jokes told and hours spent trying to figure out how to get the two pieces of metal apart, or predicting the future with that little plastic fish that reacted to the heat in your palm. If you got the tiny screwdriver kit your felt like the Winner and would utter the words ‘they’ll come in useful for something.’ They always did.
Once the Christmas dinner was finished and the pasting tables back in the shed, it was time for karaoke. We had a microphone on a stand that nobody could ever get to the right height so it was either a foot above you or so low your had to crouch. Always the right height for auntie L. The night was closing to end when she got up and “delighted” us all with her rendition of My Way. Oh how she’d belt it out…
My family, and probably many others for those years, don’t get together like that now. Lots of reasons, Nana died, cousins have spread out and moved elsewhere in their lives. Uncle moved on. Everyone got a bit older.
I’m sad those years have gone, because we did have fun, but we have to move on and this year it’ll be me and my parents. In that, COVID-19 doesn’t affect us, and we’re happy with it. My sister will be with her family south of the border having a different type of day to our quiet one.
The people we need to think about this Christmas are the ones who aren’t going to get to spend it with relatives or friends. Those in care homes, those in a different tier. Those who would normally be with friends and family around the dinner table who might face a Christmas alone.
If you know someone who is going to be alone then please give them some of your time. A ten minute chat through a window. A plate of Christmas dinner. Help them set up a Skype link to a friend. Pull a cracker with them or sing them a Christmas song.
This year people are going to be as lonely as ever, many more than before.
Let’s give them our time and share our Christmas cheer.