A different Christmas

in Features

Christmas this year will feel different for all of us. The presence of Covid has cast a shadow on how we can celebrate the season. This is particularly poignant when we are living through such a challenging time and absolutely need to experience as much joy and emotional warmth as we can.

What we love about Christmas is the socialising, the clinking of glasses, wearing silly hats and usually balancing various canapés. It brings out our fun side, the chance to talk, catch up and mingle. With this years restrictions, how can we adhere to what’s asked of us without missing out on this pivotal aspect of Christmas? A new approach could be creating mini Christmases before the big day. Arrange to meet up with one or two friends at a time in the run up.  Wrap up warm, arm yourself with some portable treats and find somewhere to create your own slice of festive fun. Larger groups meeting may not be possible but emotionally you can knit together all your experiences – it doesn’t make them any less special.

There are special activities that we look forward to all year that now seem impossible to engage in such as carol singing, attending Christmas shows and carol concerts. For me, Christmas is heralded by booking a ticket for the Nutcracker ballet. I love how this particular show conjures up that warm Christmas glow – a glow we all want to bask in during the season. 

Rather than concentrating on what we are missing out on, it will feel positive to focus on what activities we can enjoy. When at home with friends and family this Yuletide, create ways of connecting and having fun with each other. As tempting as it maybe to stare at our phones and computers, it is much more rewarding to spend the time enjoying each other’s company. Whether it’s board games, a game of cards or my personal favourite, Trivial Pursuit, it’s fascinating how we become so ridiculously competitive which adds to the fun. If some fresh air is in order, wrap up snuggly, grab a flask of hot chocolate and venture out with your Christmas posse. Walking and talking can be amazingly therapeutic, often more so than sitting in the same room as somebody. Take an appreciative look at what’s around us and soak up what is so important about Christmas – and every day: friends, family, companionships and the nature that surrounds us. In challenging, unusual times, familiarity is comforting and gives us strength for the situations that lie ahead of us.  For those who cannot be with us this Christmas, whatever the reason, it is emotionally important to still include them in the celebrations. Talk about them. Reminisce about past Christmases you shared together and ones you will share in the future.

For those who work, the annual Christmas shindig is always a well deserved highlight. It is a thank you from the company but more importantly it is an opportunity to colleagues to enjoy non work time together. It is a time to remove our professional exterior and have fun with those we work closely with all year. Occasions like this will be sorely missed, not only for the dinner but the memories they create.

So having acknowledged the challenges we all face this Christmas, how can we successfully navigate through this season without feeling we are not losing too much of what makes it such a nostalgic and magical time for us? The most important part of any Christmas are the people – or person – you spend it with. The number of people you can share the season with might be limited, which can have a big impact on you feel but it is vital to enjoy the company of those you are with. 

One pivotal moment on Christmas Day is the lunch. Even those often avoided vegetables like Brussel sprouts are given a warm welcome – especially if some pancetta and chest have been cooked with them. Who can deny the nostalgia joy of a snowball or babycham, in fact, they are becoming de rigueur at many fashionable soirées so clink and revel in Christmases past. A beautifully adorned Christmas table is a wonderful central focus for those who are sharing lunch. Whatever is happening (or not) in the outside world, there is a certain kind of convivial connection that can only be enjoyed around a dining table. It isn’t just the eating that creates the memories, it starts from the moment we wake up. Whether a full English is your preferred Christmas breakfast or a lighter option is opted for, how we begin our celebrations is as important as the rest of the day. It sets a mood, a tone. I have experienced the full range range of breakfast choices and each one brings its own delight. Full English when I was a child – scrumptious. As an adult, a favourite choice is Smoked salmon with scrambled eggs with a glass of fizz – delicious and just a tad decadent.

The most positive way to approach this festive season is to learn how to adapt in order to get the most out of a difficult time. Getting creative is something many of us usually do at Christmas but this year it has never been so important.  Make your home not only a warm, cosy sanctuary but a place of glitz and glamour, somewhere you actively want to spend time over the season.

As an avid theatre goer, the loss of live productions is felt particularly at Christmas. Pantomimes in particular are hugely popular with all the family. In their absence, there is an emergence of online productions where live music, comedy and small scale productions can be viewed. It brings entertainment into your home and provides a much missed audience for the performers.

Those festive joys of watching a favourite Christmas film or enjoying fun games like charades cannot be diminished even if numbers are limited. Creating special memories is more important than ever. Modern technology will never replace actually being with loved ones but using them at such a difficult time at least allows us to see family and friends and raise a toast together. We can connect, albeit virtually.

Christmas will always be a wonderful, nostalgic and poignant time of the year. It envelopes us in a sentimental glow and even if we have to approach Christmas differently this year,

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