Christmas Conundrum

To meet or not to meet…

That is the Question…

‘What are you doing at Christmas?’

It’s the usual seasonal enquiry but this year probably asked for different reasons. Many are facing difficult choices and I’m not referring to what to buy Uncle Fred. The lucky ones amongst us may be wrestling with where to spend Christmas and with whom. I’d be very interested to hear (on Twitter) what you are planning to do.

Apparently about a third of us have not yet made up our minds, although many have decided not to mix with others despite the new rules allowing up to three households to meet over the five day holiday period in the UK. Some have recently changed their plans now immunisation is so close, or after hearing all the advice such as keeping a safe distance, opening windows, and generally exercising this ‘freedom’ very carefully.

Those were the days! Engraving by Randolph Caldecott of a Victorian Christmas meal

Our decision

It’s hard being physically separated from loved ones for long periods and the temptation to get together to celebrate is understandable.

But we’ve reluctantly decided not to have anyone inside our home and not to visit anyone else in theirs, which is the regime we’ve followed since March. I suppose we’re ‘lucky’ in not having elderly parents or grandchildren to tempt us, but we still do look forward to Christmas as a time to see family and close friends, as so many others do.

However, being older and in the vulnerable category, and having been so careful for so long, it seems foolhardy possibly to throw it all away for the sake of a ‘Christmas Bubble’. It would be a cruel fate to succumb to Covid with the ‘cavalry’ (to quote our PM) galloping towards us waving syringes!

So, we’re getting a tree, the decorations will go up, presents bought (online) and sent, mulled wine will be drunk and too many mince pies will be eaten. And we will watch even more Christmas films than usual. I will also be sending cards, as I think it’s important, especially this year, to keep in touch.

One of Sir Quentin Blake’s wonderful illustrations available as a free e-card

All I want for Christmas……

As for Christmas Day, we are trying our own, hopefully one-off, ‘Red Letter Day Experience’. Others have been calling it something rather less positive, ‘madness’ being one of the reactions.

Our children are coming for Christmas lunch – outside in the garden, socially distanced! We have invested in a gazebo and decorated it with fairy lights. We’ve also bought an outdoor heater and have woolly (rather than Santa) hats, coats, scarves and thermals at the ready.

Erecting the gazebo – it did go higher eventually !

All I want for Christmas is that we are well and that the day dawns balmy so we don’t end up with hypothermia instead of Covid! Not sure what we’ll do if it pours, or even worse, snows.

Whilst this is far from an ideal solution to the festive period, I know there’s a lot to be positive about, including Covid rates now decreasing, lockdown 2 over, and, best of all, that we’re still here with, incredibly, one vaccine a reality and more likely to follow.

So many have suffered so much these past months, it seems petty to complain about missing just one proper family Christmas.

Marshmallows ahead..

I’m reminded of the famous marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification where young children were offered a choice between one marshmallow immediately, or two if they waited for about 15 minutes. Those that managed to wait – don’t think I’d have been one of them – had a strong correlation with better life outcomes (although I believe some doubts have now been thrown on the findings).

I’m hoping, if I now wait and delay the pleasure of indoor gatherings, I too may have a better life outcome – and lots of marshmallows!

In the meantime, we can look forward to a plethora of celebrations once we can get together again, and hopefully we will all look back and marvel at how well we did to get through 2020. Perhaps we will also emerge as more grateful, giving and caring people who have learned what is truly important in life.

Season’s Greetings

Whatever you choose to do, I wish you all a Healthy and Happy Christmas – or as happy as we can make it. And take care.
Onwards and upwards in 2021!

Stay safe; stay strong; stay smiling!