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A Covid Christmas

I think I’ve probably told you this before but every New Year’s Eve I take the time to reflect over the year that we have had, and ponder over what will happen in the year to come. I always know unexpected things will happen, as that’s life! But I’m sure not one person on this planet thought we would have the year we have had. The whole year has felt like we’ve been living on a film set. Things like this just don’t happen in real life! But yet it has, this is our life now, waiting for the next looming announcement from the Government and wondering how their next step is going to affect our daily lives.

It’s been a very strange and unexpected year, and Christmas was not the same as usual. The usual build up to Christmas never happened, we were prevented from Christmas shopping in November being submerged in the second national lockdown and forced to do our Christmas shopping online. The hospitality industry has suffered so much, with pubs, bars and restaurants being forced to close in so many areas of the country at a time when they should be packed to the rafters with people celebrating the festivities. The few who were allowed to stay open, having to limit numbers, not allowing the mixing of households and only being able to serve alcohol with a substantial meal. These businesses have been significantly impacted and many may not recover.

My Christmas tradition of strolling around my local Christmas market at Burghley house was taken away, as were most Christmas markets across the country. Drinking mulled wine whilst walking around sampling cheeses and of course spirits which you buy and never drink, as they never taste the same when you get them home! But it’s all part of the tradition so you do it year in year out, until this year when it’s taken away from you. It’s something which my family and I have really missed.

It was a very strange build up for primary school children too. My son came home from school one day to tell me that he was playing a part in the play, but I wouldn’t be able to come and watch, so it would be streamed online. Very strange, for the children and for the parents, it made me think how difficult that must be for the children who had started school in September and it was their first nativity play and their parents couldn’t be there to witness them on the stage taking the spotlight. It must have been heartbreaking for them. All the milestones you expect to hit along the way, and something like a virus prevents these ‘normal’ things from happening.

The majority of children across the UK were also unable to visit Santa in his Grotto, the simple things which make the magic of Christmas and they were stripped away.

We were all given hope when we were told that there would be a 5 day relaxation of the rules. Finally we would get some normality! After everyone making arrangements to be with family and friends and having to choose a Christmas bubble, which of course wasn’t an easy decision, the relaxation rule was abolished by the government. They plunged London and the South East of England into a new tier - tier 4 which basically meant lockdown with no mixing of households. They also reduced the 5 day relaxation down to one day and the 3 household rule was brought down to just mixing of one other household. It was all very last minute and very upsetting for families wanting to get together to get that bit of normality we have all been craving. Luckily I was in tier 3, although less than a third of a mile day the road is tier 2! I managed to spend Christmas Day with my parents who I hadn’t seen since September, so we enjoyed the time together, but it did make me sad thinking of all the people in tier 4 who weren’t allowed to do the same, it seemed unfair to isolate those people, but I also understand that the government needed to take action in order to try and get control back over the virus.

As I am writing this we’re expecting the next announcement imminently to find out whether or not schools will reopen as planned in January and I have just heard that more area’s across England will be moved into tier 3 meaning that even more pubs, bars and restaurants will be forced to close. It seems as though the barriers are being moved on a daily basis and it’s difficult to keep up with. The vaccine has come at a time when it’s needed the most and I am hopeful that things will start to get back to normal next year, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon. So this New Years Eve when I am sitting wondering what 2021 will bring, I hope it will bring society together again and that we can socialise with friends and family without worrying about the vulnerable getting ill. If one good thing has come from all of this, is that it’s changed people’s perspectives on life and people no longer take for granted their friends and family.

I am lucky that despite COVID I have had a good year, I am thankful for being able to spend more time with my family, for the Furlough system which I was part of back in March which then gave me the push I needed to start my own business, which I may never have done otherwise. I am also so pleased that I haven’t lost any of my loved ones to the virus and that my Grandparents have received their first dose of the vaccination. I know many people have not had a positive year and I hope that all of those who have had a tough year, have a much better 2021!

Here’s to a New Year with new memories to make! Have a great New Year everyone.

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