With a vaccine in jabbing distance of my 85-year-old Dad our family – like millions – postponed Christmas after the Government briefing on Saturday. It was Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty imploring the nation to unpack the suitcase that really confirmed it for us. So near and yet so far.
The Dunkirk spirit and a verse or two of Vera Lynn have kicked in since we made the decision. In our individual households (3) we are embracing the new Christmas with gusto. The turkeys may be smaller or even non-existent but we’ll be celebrating together, just 80 odd miles apart.
For the day itself we’ve plans for zoom calls at breakfast to set us all up for the rest of the day; dog walks in sync, the collective watching of the Queen’s message, along with ‘post match’ analysis; a wider family zoom call before the big meal, and then retiring to our various sofas for some Christmas telly.
Together apart is our Christmas present to ourselves this year. Let’s not forget some of the upsides apart from a (hopefully) covid-clear Christmas. No need to sing Chris Rea through gritted teeth in a traffic jam; the last-minute panic shopping which has now been deferred, with the associated benefit of actually buying the right sort of presents at a more leisurely pace. The opportunity for a cheese and crisp sandwich if that’s the preferred menu on Christmas day, whilst not forgetting less washing up, more boxsets and better access to the tv remote.
Boxing Day might be a low point. Traditionally that lovely slow day of cold turkey and baked potatoes, an afternoon walk and then full slump mode. However, this of all years, I know how lucky we are. Would an earlier decision by The Government have helped? Of course it would. But with no other choice and limited time, necessity has indeed become the mother of invention.
We also have something to really look forward to in 2021 – a celebration when Dad and all his friends have had the vaccine – and elaborate plans to keep them safe are no longer required. By the time we get around to this, it might be warm and the days might be longer. An Australian-style Christmas perhaps! And, maybe we’ll be celebrating Christmas 2020 far enough into 2021 that for once I will infact have bought the right Christmas presents months ahead of time.
Happy, Happy Christmas, whichever year it happens to be.
Annabel James is founder of AgeSpace.org. She will be enjoying cheese and crisp sandwiches and season 6 of The West Wing on Christmas Day.