“Christmas won’t be Christmas without presents.” So said Jo in Louisa M Alcott’s book, ‘Little Women’.
“Christmas won’t be Christmas with Covid”, is what many people might be saying right now.
Politicians, press, commentators and public have been talking about Xmas since September. For all I know, Christmas decorations may have have been up in major stores since August but I haven’t been in a shop to find out. However, our shopping delivery packages are already featuring Xmas on their packaging and we’re still only in October!
I understand the fuss about Christmas. Aside from the fact that you’re celebrating the birth of a nice Jewish boy who historically may have been born in the spring, it’s a time when everyone gets together with relations they don’t normally see. And let’s face it, don’t always like – which is probably why they only want to see them once a year!
Here’s an idea – you could see them on some other day. Or spread it out so you see a few on Christmas Eve, a handful on Boxing Day, some on New Year’s Eve and the rest on New Year’s Day. Assuming you’re able to meet them indoors of course or outside under cover. Or better still, see them during the year so you don’t pin all your hopes and expectations on just one day.
Alternatively, as Christmas won’t be Christmas with Covid, how about we postpone it this year and enjoy it some time in 2021 instead – who knows we may even have a vaccine by then.
I’ve found people are often disappointed with Christmas. They want it to be like the Christmas we see in films and read about in books. Instead, there’s stress over all the preparation, the cooking and hoping that the day will meet with everyone’s expectations. Apparently (at least until the advent of Covid) more couples broke up immediately after Christmas than at any other time of the year.
It appears that we’re not really a Christian country any more. Eurostat’s Eurobarometer survey in May 2019 (that’s a series of public opinion surveys conducted regularly on behalf of the European Commission) found that only 50% of people living in the UK considered themselves Christian – ie 14% Protestants, 13% Catholics, 7% Orthodox and 16% other Christians. That leaves 50% who weren’t Christian at all.
Speaking of polls, a recent one suggested 51 per cent of Britons would break ‘the rule of six’ on Christmas Day. Apprentice contestant Bushra Shaik (I hadn’t heard of her either) was criticised after admitting that she’s planning on breaking government rules on Christmas Day. It’s reported that she said in an TV interview on Good Morning Britain, ‘I’m going to be considering breaking the rule of six. I’m saying what half the population is thinking. This is a tough time, as far as I’m concerned. I know what is best for my family. I know how to apply the rules for my family.’ Hang on a minute. Surely, it’s everyone applying the rules for themselves that has caused the recent spikes and the government having to resort to tiers – or maybe we should be calling them tears.
All this fuss over one day! We Jews had to celebrate the Passover Seder (that’s what Jesus was doing at the Last Supper) in April without our families this year. We also had to celebrate the Jewish New Year and a number of other important festivals without our friends and families. Not to mention every single Friday night. Some of you will have seen the TV sitcom Friday Night Dinner. So you will know there’s a tradition that, aside from festivals, there is a big family meal every Friday night throughout the year for the Sabbath. And that’s just the Jews. Of course there are also the major Muslim festivals of Eid and Ramadan. And the Hindus are having to miss out on Diwali. The 37% who claim to be non-Christian in the Eurobarometer survey (9% atheists, 28% nonbelievers and agnostics), 5% Muslims (3% Sunnis, 1% Shias, 1% other Muslims), 1% Sikhs, 1% Hindus, fewer than 1% Jews, fewer than 1% Buddhists, 4% other religions, 1% who didn’t know, and the 1% who refused to answer, all have all been deprived of their festivals and festivities since March.
Christmas Day aside, there are all the associated trappings of Christmas we are going to miss, such as office parties. I like the quote from Phillis Diller, the American comedian who said, “What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”
© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems