I imagine quite a few of you have home alone for Christmas this year, probably for the first time in your life.
Like many of you, I had expected to have a rumbustious, fun-filled, family Christmas (possibly outside) but it did not occur to me whilst we were making arrangements that I would be spending Christmas without seeing a living soul.
Being a planner by nature and having a lifetime habit of never being late (I drive my family mad by always arriving early!) I thought I would get ahead of the game by purchasing a huge outside heater so that we could all eat turkey outside whether we had rain, snow or shine – but it was not to be.
Despite our intricate alfresco dining plans we were halted in our tracks.
The tier system and the fact that two of us, the grandparents, are both clinically extremely vulnerable, put paid to our outside Christmas. I resigned myself to a Christmas alone. I knew I could cope, but I didn’t relish the thought.
Within twenty minutes of me explaining to my son that neither I nor my ex-husband #1 would not be joining them, my son started to organise a Christmas zoom family carol concert to be held on Christmas Eve. Young and old would participate. We have a very large extended family due to my rather feckless habit of getting divorced! The bonus is that, despite excruciating high legal fees, we all actually like each other! Apart from the grown ups (most of whom are creative), we have a whole generation of little ones – all of whom can’t wait to tread the boards and are bursting with talent and creativity! It wasn’t really surprising that we had a mega talented collection of people for our concert.
We were due to start our Carol Service at 6 pm on Christmas Eve, so at about one my thoughts turned to dressing the set and I thought it show I was entering into the spirit of the thing if I arranged a festive backdrop. Apart from anything, it seemed like good use of my time and might keep me away from the chocolate Baileys bottle before my performance of a poem I was going to recite!
At the risk of injuring my back, I staggered across the room with my Christmas tree so it could twinkle behind me. Rather like the tree Her Majesty always has, but sadly mine was somewhat smaller. Then I placed the important Christmas cards (those sent by my fellow Zoom-ers) strategically at the front so they would be seen. Finally I lit candles. My backdrop was diplomatically perfect.
I then spent a very long time on my make up. I highlighted, emphasised and sculpted my face. I filled the furrows and troughs, blotted and painted my mouth in with a smile (old thespian trick) and made sure my eye liner was colour coordinated with my tree. I attached a lot of bling to my black polo neck jumper, had another quick gulp of the Baileys (this time from the bottle) and I was READY.
Six o clock came! It was a wonderful concert BUT NO ONE SAW MY BACKDROP! There were so many people on the screen I was allocated one inch by one inch so no background in sight! As they say it’s the thought that counts.
On the Big Day I settled down to a festive lunch of my choice – steamed Brussels sprouts with taramasalata. I can’t tell you what a delicious mixture it was! I did however have a few moments of loneliness and sadness over the Christmas holiday being home alone. I remembered my mum talking about loneliness but, surrounded by other children growing up, I didn’t know what it was then. But, thanks to the pandemic, I do now.
My heart goes out to lonely people. It is very very hard and this year has been an especially long time for the folk who live alone. Until you experience it, it’s hard to visualise the deep womb-like vacuum of emptiness and longing for a kind word, a smile or a hug.
I have been extremely lucky. So many of my beautiful friends have been concerned for my welfare. I am in general a fairly outgoing person so it hasn’t been nearly so bad for me. Spare a thought for those people who have no children, are agonisingly shy or, even worse, find it excruciatingly difficult to ask. They go through agonies, feeling it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. It isn’t. It’s brave to ask. Let us all try to look out for them.
2020 has been such an extraordinary year. My travelling has, of course, gone out of the window and so has my grannying. The enforced aloneness has made me realise how few materialistic things one needs in life. What we all need is time and this year we have had lots it. Many of us realise that we are stronger than we thought. We have discovered compassion and have realised that judgement is odious.
There have been countless examples of unselfishness and kindness this year. I just hope that we do not forget EVER how this year has really presented us with a wake up call about our values. It’s made us sharper, more connected. How valuable is that?
I wish you all A very Happy New Year and that we ALL get the vaccine soon. BPG x
You can read more of BackPacking Granny’s posts here.