This time last year who would have thought that we would be thinking more about ‘bubbles’ rather than ‘baubles’ for Christmas 2020!
This Christmas is certainly going to different. Most of us are going to be limited in who we can see and where we can go, and for those that are facing Christmas 2020 alone, it is certainly going to be challenging. It is, of course, quite normal to feel emotional about a Christmas looming that is going to be spent away from loved ones, but it may be helpful to take a minute to get some perspective and perhaps think about having some coping strategies ready for the big day itself. It is only a day like any other day, after all.
Firstly, try to keep a ‘glass half full’ mentality and, even if things feel pretty miserable at the moment, consider the future in a positive light. Remember that we are staying apart or limiting our Christmas celebrations, because we want and need to stay safe, and most importantly keep our family members safe. We are spending time apart this year, so we can be with our friends and family next year. Hopefully we are through the worst of this pandemic now (fingers crossed), and with multiple vaccines arriving, there is very real hope that we can return to something like normal during 2021.
If you are completely alone this Christmas, however, I appreciate that thinking about next year doesn’t really cut it at the moment. What may help however, is having a plan of action. Think about planning your Christmas Day NOW. You may have decided that you’re going to spend the day in your pyjamas. Great! Make sure they are new, luxurious pyjamas. Perhaps you’re going to make the most wonderful 3 course meal ….or just eat chocolate all day. Wonderful! Whatever you do, make sure it feels self indulgent and it is something you love doing. Plan in the scheduled phone calls and virtual chats, have a look at the TV guide and pick out a couple of films you have been meaning to watch. Have a structure to the day. Whatever you do, decide that you are going to have a lovely day. Treat yourself and whether its is a really nice present you are gifting yourself or some amazing food, make it special.
One certain way to feel more hopeful and less powerless this Christmas, is to consider doing some seasonal volunteering. There are lots of opportunities, both from a safe social distance in person, or virtually. You might deliver food to an older person in your community who may not be able to get out to do grocery shopping, or you might ring someone who is alone and in need of a friendly human voice. Giving back in this way will most definitely raise your spirits, even if you can’t be with your own friends and family.
With lots of redundancies and unemployment growing, budget, worrying about money could be a real factor this Christmas. Luxury gifts aren’t necessary and small meaningful gifts and handmade cards will convey a special message. If you can manage it, think about making some gifts. Such presents will be kept and appreciated long after any shop bought item is used and discarded.
If you’re able to afford it, give phones or tablets to family members who don’t yet have them. We have bought my mum an iPhone for Christmas! We can’t be with her this year, but at least she will be able to see us on Christmas Day through What’s App. Virtual get togethers have helped us all get through this all year, and they are really going to be important over the next couple of weeks. Organise virtual Christmas drinks with family, or maybe a quiz night. A friend of mine has even managed to organise a gin tasting! 6 friends have all been sent 8 mini bottles and they are all going to have a tasting session on Christmas eve! Genius!
If you are in Tier 2 area, and lucky enough to be still able to go out to pubs and restaurants, book a Christmas meal within your household, perhaps for Christmas Eve. OK, its not the same as a Christmas party with all your friends, but its still lovely to go out for a nice meal as a couple, and its really helping the pubs and restaurants to keep going.
During the festive season, we usually feel a lot of expectation to be seen to be having a good time and in some ways Christmas 2020 releases us from that pressure. The usual pressures of having the house packed, wondering where to sleep everyone, the travelling, eating and drinking too much, family arguments, financial pressures and increased household work, may be somewhat alleviated this year. I think its fair to say a lot of our priorities have changed during 2020, and perhaps the ‘going over the top and over doing it’ side of Christmas is not really necessary or what makes us happy.
Try and not give up on Christmas altogether because things are tough. I have heard too many people saying this year that Christmas is a “write off” and they expect to be miserable and just “get through the day.” Yes, its going to be different, but deciding its going to be awful when we are still a week away is negativity you don’t need. And of course, deciding its going to be miserable, will definitely mean it will be miserable. Just a take a minute to count your blessings. What you have to be grateful for. Where you live, your house, your friends and family. Think about people who are suffering in poverty or are homeless, or on a wider global scale, refugees and victims of war. We in this country, have a lot to be thankful for, even after a year like 2020. Try and reframe your thinking and remember what we are going through is temporary. Instead of saying, “I’m not celebrating Christmas this year because I can’t be with my family”, how about “I won’t be able to be with my family this year because I’m mindful of their health and safety, but I can still be positive and have an enjoyable day.”
If you are on your own, try not to just jump into a bottle of alcohol for the day in an effort to cover up difficult feelings. If you can, get outside and go for a brisk walk and get some fresh air. Walking can lift your spirits and if you are lucky enough to live near a beach or forest area, get out there! You will feel so much better the next day than if you have drunk too much wine!
I wish you a very peaceful and reflective Christmas and a hopeful New Year. I hope that you are able to be with family and friends, but if you are not, try and remember that this is a temporary situation and there is now a bright light at the end of this very long tunnel. Stay positive, stay strong and remember its just a day, like any other. 🎄
The Samaritans provide free, confidential, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week support on 116 123. They also have local branches in many areas where you can drop in to speak to someone face-to-face. For more information visit: www.samaritans.org.