An Unconventional Christmas: 2020 Edition

I felt an urge to document Christmas 2020. After an unprecedented year when we were all sanctioned to ‘stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS’, there was a glimmer of hope that by Christmas we would be reunited with our much-missed loved ones. Only it turned out to be the golden carrot, dangled before us in exchange for good behaviour. With the rise of the second wave, we found ourselves in lockdown 2.0 in November. I was prepared for it mentally this time, unlike March when everything escalated pretty quickly. With a baby now under our roof, it was a different dynamic. I certainly wasn’t making long to-do lists to tick off as a way of utilising my time. I also didn’t have work this time around to distract me Monday through Friday. Instead, my two weekly baby classes moved online to Zoom and I was learning the new etiquette of muting a screaming baby or to save my embarrassment of my baby talk being streamed to a group of mothers I’d never met. 

November passed fairly quickly with as many outdoor walks kicking through leaves as the weather allowed and with a hint of festive spirit thanks to the continuation of Strictly. I also found myself completely hooked on I’m A Celeb after seeing Giovanni Fletcher would be a campmate this year. She was doing it for the mums and now I am in that club I felt it only right to download the app and vote for her again and again! The crescendo of November was, of course, putting up my new 7ft Christmas tree. A new record in that it was fully up and twinkling by November 25th - something I usually reserve for the first weekend in December. There had to be a sweetener to look forward to at the end of a month indoors! Turns out twinkly lights and glittery decorations will do it. I even found myself paying a fiver to join a couple of John Lewis’ online workshops; ‘How to decorate your Christmas tree’ and ‘How to make a Christmas wreath’. Both of these things I didn’t doubt I was already proficient in, but it was something to do, wasn’t it? And a few handy tips were picked up along the way. 

But come December, all of a sudden the non-essential retail was open and it was a rush to get all the Christmas shopping done. Well, that was a recipe for disaster really, wasn’t it? In the ninth hour, Boris Johnson did what the Grinch had failed to do and stole Christmas! Being in the South East, we were the first to be told household mixing was banned. I sat on the sofa on that Saturday night and cried. I had several phone calls with my sister, who would be staying alone in London, and my parents, who now wouldn't be able to see their granddaughter's first Christmas. Horrible conversations to endure but the right and responsible actions were taken. I consoled myself one minute by saying, 'It’s just a day!' and ‘We’ll do Christmas properly when it’s safe to do so’, but then cried into my red wine the next. My mum still has a turkey for 10-12 people in her freezer which she had bought just a few hours before the change in restrictions! Whilst the turkey we were meant to eat was put on ice, we - like so many - had to make a mad dash to the supermarket to buy (a much smaller) turkey, cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets and, controversially, Yorkshire puddings. Apparently it’s not Christmas dinner without them says my Lincoln-born husband. Who knew! The new fast-spreading strain I’m sure was rife in supermarkets but we were gloved up and masked up to the nines! It’s one thing to not have Christmas with your family but quite another to be expected to do it without a turkey dinner.  After all, if there’s one coping mechanism that universally works while celebrating anything while in lockdown, it’s food. 

Read more: How to Celebrate a Birthday in Lockdown

This year, Christmas was going to be extra special. It was our first as parents and our little girl, while only five months old so completely unaware of the festivities, was going to be surrounded by all her grandparents and her auntie so we could witness and savour her first Christmas. Or that was the plan at least. Like so many lockdown born babies, my little one is yet to meet a lot of our extended family. Or many people at all outside of our childcare bubble. I’ve strived to keep my head in a positive space but come December 25th, I was fighting a losing battle and admit to being sat on Zoom with my parents and sister opening presents, and breaking down in silent sobs. Being kept away from our families goes against human nature and it was a hard end to a hard year having to do that. It goes without saying - but I will say it anyway - of course it was harder still for the key workers who were bracing this pandemic on the frontline and for those families who have lost loved ones to this horrible disease. I think it’s entirely "normal" to feel sad, angry, frustrated, lonely and a whole load of other emotions in between. 

It was certainly not the first Christmas I had dreamed of for our baby girl but while it is one she won’t remember, it is one I won’t forget. It makes me hopeful for the family reunions to come. The Christmas that may well be celebrated Aussie-style in the height of summer. The many Christmases we will get to celebrate all together without fear of making anyone ill. 

I guess I’m writing this to capture the moment in time and the emotional experience that went with it. I hope you get to read this some point in the future when Covid-19 has been beaten and vaccines have provided immunity. I hope pubs have reopened and the High Street has been saved from the threat of liquidation. I hope those made redundant are finding new, even better jobs! I hope employees have learnt how efficient their workers can be from home (where possible) and that we, the working fleet, can enjoy some of the work-life balance we came to discover. I hope the Joe Wicks-inspired adults and children are still getting active! I hope the sale of walking shoes is through the roof as people keep up their daily walks. I hope we never again have Christmas cancelled or a pandemic ravage through the world. I hope we can pull together and reinstate that sense of community that came from banging on saucepans and painting rainbows to hang in our windows. I hope we are kinder to each other. I hope. I hope. I hope.

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