Christmas, Coronavirus, and Me

Let’s avoid the clich├ęs and just state 2020 has not been a great year. It started with promise. I made my first visit to Africa, setting foot in Tangier, Morocco. Unfortunately, I did not get to spend a lot of time there, but we enjoyed it all the same. We were also in Rome and Genoa at the time that coronavirus was starting to make the news. It is probably no surprise, in retrospect at least, that my wife tested positive for it on our return to England. That all seems like a very long time ago now.

Christmas is my favourite holiday. People used to say that it was for the kids, back in the 1990’s when consumerism was rampant, but I never accepted that. For me, Christmas is for the family. I remember when I was young that my father used to work long hours. He had gone to work before we got up and came home just before we went to bed; except at Christmas. We had him home then. He used to enjoy watching black and white comedy films and introduced me and my brothers to the genius of Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, and Charlie Chaplin. We were a family then and surrounded by the magic of the season. When I became a father and a husband I looked to do the same thing. I suggested to my wife that we have our formal Christmas dinner on Boxing Day and reserve Christmas Day itself for our children. No going out to visit anyone, we just stayed home and enjoyed the day. The kids got to play with their toys and games and we got to relax and enjoy being together.

As Christmas approached this year I wondered if it was going to be a challenge to create some Christmas cheer. My wife usually prefers to put decorations out the weekend before Christmas Eve. One year, I sneaked some decorations out on December 1st, and then added something each day. Of course, she noticed and admitted that she liked the idea, so we have been doing something like that ever since. This year had to be different. My wife is a hospice nurse and she has been particularly impacted by the current state of affairs. Not everyone can sit with a person while they die because government regulations do not allow family and friends to be with them, but she has had to do that many times in the past few months. Although I was delighted I cannot say that I was surprised when she suggested putting some decorations up early this year. After months of toil, misery, and negativity we are determined to try and make something positive out of Christmas 2020.

Christmas is for family, and in that I include good friends. We only send Christmas cards to people we do not see regularly, but this year that seems to be almost everyone. Restrictions will be in place, we know that, but there are ways to keep in touch with other people. Video conferencing might not be perfect, but it does work. The post might be slow, but they do deliver. Putting up Christmas lights might not repel a highly contagious virus, but they do lessen the gloom. Christmas, like so many other things in life, is what you make it.

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