I love Christmas, unashamedly so. I love the food, the music, the parties and the gift giving, I even love the weather. With my birthday a couple of days before and the New Year to wrap up the season, it is without question my favourite time of year.
For months now I have been aware this Christmas would be different to usual. No large family gathering at the in-laws or smaller gather at my parents. No carolling, no Christmas markets, no parties. As we moved into November the wife and I made the decision we would celebrate Christmas as a couple in the new home, but clear we would visit family if it was safe. With the initial government announcement of a Christmas bubble our plans slotted into place.
We were watching Arthur Christmas (a brilliant film included in my Christmas Film Review if you are interested) yesterday when rumours began circulating of the new plans to curtail or indeed cancel Christmas for millions. I did not comment at the time (other than a quick comment as part of my frustration when I ran out of wrapping paper) and reflecting on it now that is probably a good thing.
It was a good thing because I was upset and angry. Upset at the loss of what few Christmas plans we had out of the house. Angry because it did not have to be this way. I don’t want to focus too much on the politics of lockdowns, but had the Prime Minister wanted to save some semblance of Christmas for the country as he claimed, then more decisive action in the autumn would have been a good start. And don’t get me started on the last minute nature of this announcement.
Fortunately, I waited a little before writing this post, and as I have been trying to achieve throughout this year, a little perspective is in order.
Even in a normal year, Christmas can be a difficult and lonely time for thousands, add the isolation of the pandemic and it is going to be difficult for many regardless of what we are allowed to do (and remember if things are getting really difficult for you this year, help is only a phone call away).
For others, money is tighter than every. Children in the UK are at the risk of going hungry when many of us will be tucking into turkey, and with thousands unemployed as a result of the pandemic gifts are going to be lacking for many.
But most of all, worst of all, no matter what the rules are this Christmas, for at least 67,075 families in the UK and millions more around the world, this Christmas is the first without their loved one with them. It is their first Christmas of many with an empty chair at the table. The first without the laughter and the love and the arguments and the games and everything which makes Christmas special. For 67,075 families this Christmas is going to be miserable, and there is little the Prime Minister can say or order which will change that.
I’m sad and angry about the loss of the typical Christmas I love. But more that that, I am determined. I’m determined this will be the first and last time a Christmas is cancelled. I’m determined as many people as possible will be with us in 2021 and beyond to celebrate a Christmas like no other. I’m determined more so than I have been at any point this year to see an end to this pandemic and a return to a new normal.
As an individual, it can feel like there is little we can do to convert this determination into action. But of course that is not true, and more so than ever this Christmas it is important we do our part. Wash your hands, wear your mask, keep your distance and get the vaccine when it is offered to you. Do all this and we might just find ourselves enjoying something closer to normal next year.
And while we spend one more holiday apart from each other, remember to keep in touch. Reach out to family, friends and neighbours who may well be celebrating Christmas alone this year (safely and legally of course). If Christmas is typically a time for sharing, in a year when sharing is out of the question, it will take a little creativity to spread some festive cheer, but in the end it will be worth it. I am certain of that.
Whatever your plans (or lack of them) this year, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and look forward to a much Happier New Year!