These days between Christmas and New Year have somehow always felt like bonus days, especially when we were still working but both managed to arrange to take holiday days on them. Christmas has always been a big family day; New Year time for the two of us (since the boys were old enough to celebrate it with their friends). The days between were extras – days when we’ve always arranged to meet up with friends for winter walks, to enjoy pottering around the house doing whatever took our fancy, days without shopping because there was always plenty already in the house to eat and drink.
This year they feel like some time to step back and reflect on the strangest of strange years we have ever experienced. I imagine many others doing the same.
Our Christmas was the smallest we’ve ever had. We were us two and an older family member who joined us for lunch, for the briefest time ever. It was the first time he’d been in our house this year – quite extraordinary. We reminisced Christmases past: those when we were guests in other people’s homes; those when we had a house full ourselves.
There is so much to reflect on this year, and so much still to come. I am not optimistic that 2021 will be an improvement on 2020 (though if the vaccine roll-out goes according to plan, that will be an immense relief).
Like most people we know, our plans for this year’s Christmas changed frequently and rapidly. At one point oldest son sent us their new plan, saying that it was ‘this week’s plan’. Ha! it barely lasted a day or two before it had to be changed again, and again. In the end the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions (rightly and too late, in my view) ensured that everyone stayed put apart from the person who joined us (from nearby). Subsequent plans were also changed as someone discovered that a person they’d worked with the previous week had tested positive, so they decided (sensibly) to self-isolate just in case.
So many times this year we’ve been thankful that neither of our mothers, who both lived in care homes at the end of their lives, lived to experience this. Neither would have been able to understand what was going on or make any sense of the restrictions and isolation they would have faced.
I always expected that this turn-of-the-year would be a difficult one: once it was determined that the UK would finally leave the EU on 31 December 2020, it was clear that whatever came next would be worse what went before. I never ever imagined that at the same time we would be in the throes of a global pandemic, so badly (mis)handled here that it’s hard to envisage an end to it.
I always knew and appreciated that I am among one of the most fortunate, with my home and my garden and my secure income and my supportive family and friends. This year has served to emphasise that and magnify it many fold. This year has been bad for many. I fear next year will be worse for them and many more. My determination to do what small things I can to help is not diminished.
And now, in these in-between days, I’m reflecting on the past year and forming plans for the next. What was achieved, what dropped by the wayside (and why). What was learnt, what was forgotten. What might happen next.