I had kind of made a promise – more to myself than anyone else – that I would try steer clear of talking about Covid on here, as much as possible anyway. But I feel there is something I have to discuss and it involves the C word.
Actually, two C words.
Covid. And Christmas.
I am a big big fan of Christmas. Autumn and Winter are my favourite times of year, and as soon as the leaves start to change and the scarves start to come out of hibernation, I start to get excited. Now I will be the first to admit that Christmas, the lead up, the day, all does kind of stress me out a little. I get quite heightened and anxious. What to get people, will they like it, where will we spend the day, will everything go okay. Will someone say something stupid and offend someone else (been there, done that, still wearing the t-shirt of guilt and shame under my Christmas Jumper).
But, once the decorations and lights start to appear, the shop windows start to sparkle and the air gets that crisp chill, my smile starts to widen and I start to break out the glitter.
Yesterday was the first day that I had that flurry of excitement at seeing the lights and sparkle. I walked through the city for some errands after work and spotted the sign on the Brown Thomas window. It read –
We’ll keep you guessing while we’re Christmas Dressing
(I may be paraphrasing slightly). And I remembered hearing that their Christmas Shop was open so I took myself up to their top floor and saw lights! Trees! Sparkles! Decorations! Baubles! Santa! It made my heart lighter. I wandered around, looking at all the beautiful decorations I can’t have because I own the destructive model of Toddler. There was a whole section of Blush themed decorations. I wanted them all!
When I left and was walking through the city, it dawned on me that it is mid-October. The last few years the Christmas themed stuff has been arriving in shops earlier and earlier, with them being full of sparkle and red and white candy stripes from mid-September, competing for shelf space with the Halloween bits and pieces. There doesn’t seem to be as much emphasis this year. And I’ve thought the same with Halloween.
Obviously, Halloween can’t go ahead this year as normal. Trick or Treating isn’t exactly limiting your contacts. But I went looking for some new decorations. We can’t go house to house but we can at least make our house fun to look at and have a bit of a Halloween feel in the place. But the usual haunts I would visit for decorations were lacking. One store at the end of August/early September had a small but gorgeous selection of decorations and I thought, I’ll come back for those on payday. I did and they were no where to be seen. All sold out. And have not been replaced. All that was left was the tacky plastic stuff which, lets be honest, wasn’t going to fit in with my planned decor. Yeah I know, Halloween is tacky and plastic but for one more year let me try be slightly fancier. At least until I have to bend to the demands of the Toddler.
I’ve been on the lookout since and short of ordering online, which I was trying to avoid, I haven’t been able to find anything suitable. It’s almost like the shops have decided its a non-event this year and are doing the bare minimum to get by.
I do feel for the shop owners and workers who rely on this time of year for most of their sales. Christmas is going to be a largely online affair I would guess, and if the Boxed Christmas Card selection is anything to go by, what is available in store is going to feel a bit like they are just emptying the stock room of last years crap and trying to get rid and make space. Like we all did at the start of this pandemic when we thought we’d be at home for a few weeks, a month tops. A clear-out is a great idea! Until we fill all the gaps and spaces we made with more junk bought online at weird hours.
Our original Christmas plan has been largely thrown out the window. We can’t travel to the UK and the Grandparents there can’t visit us. Plan B was to travel cross country to be with the Irish Grandparents but that is currently looking unlikely too. It is very possible that this Christmas it could just be the three of us, and I’m really not sure how I feel about it. All the sparkle and hot chocolate in the world can’t make up for the lack of the people you call family; the laughter; the chaos (we’re a big bunch, its always kind of chaotic). I know in a couple of years when he’s older a quiet Christmas at home with just us will be what is on my Christmas list, but now while he is still so small and the aunts, uncles and cousins are still joyfully willing to take him for an hour, I fear that having it be Just Us will mean it doesn’t feel any different. It’s just going to be another regular day at home. With no one to visit, no one dropping by for a cup or tea or something stronger at 11 in the morning, no mad giggling over silly gifts and piles of wrapping paper, I fear it will feel anti-climactic.
I will keep hoping that things will change; that Christmas will be back as shiny and sparkley as ever. And maybe I am just getting ahead of myself. It is only October after all. But whatever happens, whether I am here with just the toddler and the dad, or whether we get to be with the bigger clan, this is a year that we will be making the most of Christmas. Because being stuck in lockdown has shown me how much I love, need, appreciate and miss my little village. And I am quite lucky to have them.
So glitter! Glitter everywhere!!