Headlines across many of the today’s Sunday papers have been along the lines of “Christmas is Cancelled”, “The virus that stole Christmas” and other such hyperbole. No, Christmas is not cancelled; Christmas has not been stolen.
December 25, Christmas Day, will still arrive this Friday. OK, it may arrive in a different way than expected and we may have to spend a couple of days this week in reassessing and rearranging our plans. But arrive it will surely do.
Negative language such as “killed”, “cancelled” and “ruined” gives pessimistic connotations to the thought of a scaled-back Christmas. So rather than a problem, let’s see this as an opportunity.
When major upsets to my plans occur, my initial strategy is to stop and decide what is really important to me, and what am I still able to do. Often there is a great deal of correlation between the two. I also remember occasions when plans have been thwarted in the past and how the new result was better than the original would have been.
For example, Christmas Dinner is still possible – though it may be on a smaller table and with fewer place settings than usual.
You’ve probably heard of the maxim: the person who never made a mistake, never made anything. A variant came into my head today: the person whose plans were always fulfilled never fulfilled anything.
So, what could be some of the advantages of a scaled-back, socially distanced Christmas?
- You don’t have to spend Christmas Eve frantically tidying and cleaning the house for the visitors arriving on Christmas Day. No one is visiting on Christmas Day.
- No visitors on Christmas Day also means no need to get up and dressed. If your ideal Christmas Day relaxation is to stay in bed until min-afternoon, and then eat a bowl of Weetabix washed down with a glass of sherry – crack on. Who’s going to stop you. [just a reminder to the teenagers of the Chippy household that this is not an option]
- Fewer people in the house mean fewer argument about what to watch on TV. Or, indeed, fewer arguments full stop.
- You can still video call your loved ones. And when you get bored with them you can instigate a network failure by “accidentally” switching off the router.
- Livestreamed church services mean that, for the first time, we can share our worship with those far away. Chippy and Mrs Chippy have parents and siblings spread throughout the world’s time zones (from 13 hours ahead of GMT to 5 hours behind). Christmas Eve evening and Christmas Day morning livestreamed services means that all our family could join us at church for at least one Christmas service. That’s never happened before.
- You don’t have to struggle to find space in the freezer to store food left over from Christmas lunch because you are going away on Boxing Day. You’re not going away on Boxing Day, so can eat the food.
- With fewer (or no) parties, there will be a glut of party food in the shops. Get ready for some hefty price reductions.
But wait. It’s time to stop and think. I know I’ve put a rose-tinted spin on this post. I’ve treated in a very light-hearted way what some people will see as a real problem. I am lucky in that I will be able to spend Christmas with my immediate family. We had already decided to not travel to visit extended family, so the new restrictions have had little effect on our plans. But I fully understand that while many people will be able to accept the new Christmas restrictions, many other will struggle. It is important that those of us who can cope reach out to those who cannot. And it’s even more important that those who who do struggle are not afraid to ask for help.
But let’s not forget what Christmas is really about: