MChristmas did (sort of) come early this year. As Omicron sweeps across the UK, my annual festive warm-up routine – cramming onto a train, dragging a heavy suitcase and grabbing an overpriced sandwich that was picked out in a cold sweat at King’s Cross Station – has been brought forward. of a whole week.
After receiving my reminder and testing negative, I decided to travel early to give myself the best chance of seeing loved ones come safely on Christmas Day. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work remotely in the meantime – in fact, I’m writing this on my train journey, listening to Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty at Wednesday’s Downing Street briefing say: “There is a lot things we don’t know, but all the things we know are bad. â€With my train rushing home, I again feel like the UK is heading for disaster. I wonder if Christmas will be normal again, or at least not apocalyptic?
Before the pandemic, I would have rolled my eyes dreaming about Christmas as usual. As an adult, I gradually became more of a Scrooge. When you no longer see Christmas through childish eyes, you realize how much work, money, and time it takes to make it special. Sometimes it was so pointless: buying gifts from people they don’t like and certainly don’t need. Apparently over 2 million kg of cheese is thrown away in the UK every year, which seems almost criminal.
Then Christmas 2020 arrived. Like many people, I had my suitcase waiting by the door when everything changed due to Covid Level 4 restrictions. The next day I bought a tree and decided to make the most of it. . I would spend Christmas as I had spent the rest of the year: sitting in my apartment, 400 miles from my family.
Lockdown Christmas was a mixed bag. On the plus side, I felt rested at the end of it. But I missed my mom’s decorations and the almost annual tradition of her suggesting ordering a curry instead of having a big Christmas dinner and then changing your mind at the last minute. I even missed the things I thought I didn’t like: navigating family politics and the grueling pressure of seeing as many people as possible.
Turns out you can splash around on food, eat those red Lindor chocolates for breakfast, and drink prosecco until you’ve been battling acid reflux, but Christmas isn’t the same without the feeling of it. ‘be in cahoots with people you haven’t seen in a while. Our festive rituals distract us from the routine of â€œnormalâ€ life and reduce the distance – physical, cultural, generational – that usually separates us.
The pandemic has changed our mindset time and time again. People who hated going to the gym were lining up to go back when they reopened this summer. Self-proclaimed â€œintrovertsâ€ began to crave social interaction. Some people even started to miss work in an office. So with Christmas playing ‘treat them mean, keep them excited’ in 2020, and ‘hard to get’ this year, I’m obsessed with it.
Now, honestly, I don’t remember a Christmas where I felt more festive. I put my tree down in November and I’m not even a little annoyed by the ads that monopolize my TV screen. Some plans may need to change, but I still have my hopes of experiencing Christmas in all its glory: do any straight guys want a debate on Norway’s new gay Santa Claus? Or maybe this lyrics to Fairytale of New York? (Actually, I’m drawing the line there).
After a year of such upheaval, I am not going to take Christmas for granted. Yes, it can be claustrophobic, tiring, and sprinkled with festive family tensions. And yes, it can sometimes feel like work. But since it became normal to fear that Christmas might be canceled, I can see that there is so much hope in the work that makes it special. I want to enjoy it this year.