Excitement For Christmas

“I’m so excited about Christmas” is a phrase I have heard a lot from my daughters over the last few weeks. Each time they say it I ask why, I have to: as a parent I can never assume the answer because my children frequently surprise me. If there is something they are particularly looking forward to it’s my job to try and make it happen. Not on this occasion though, each time the response about Christmas has been about presents and luckily there are sorted. In any other year faced with such a materialistic comment I would have said “It’s not about the presents”, but in 2020 the presents are the only part of the day that I can feel safe in promising.

3 siblings on a bed in matching Christmas pyjamas. The oldest sibling splits her time between parents houses

For me a big part of Christmas is about family. There is always the stockings, excess food, presents, music and laughter, but I want to spend the day surrounded by my family. 

Christmas With Divorced Parents

The challenge when I was younger was that I didn’t know where to spend Christmas. With divorced parents I had a choice of where to go, but having to choose between your parents isn’t exactly a fun choice. As M gets older she will get to choose where she wants to spend Christmas, but this year just like for the last 6, she should be splitting Christmas day between her Dad and I. Living locally means we both get to spend some of the day with her and we alternate each year so one of us gets Christmas Eve and Christmas morning (which is my favourite to be honest) and one of us gets her for the rest of the day. This arrangement has it’s challenges for M, like being dragged away from presents she has only just opened, but it definitely has it’s perks too. Father Christmas seems to miscalculate each year and give her a Christmas stocking at each house!

I dropped M off at her Dad’s house  on Friday morning with a big hug and the expectation that I will pick her up Christmas morning, but this is 2020, can I really predict anything? I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want to worry her, but obviously there is a very real possibility that this year might be our first Christmas apart. All it would take is someone getting a cough. 

I guess we have been lucky that a sensible part of the Government rules all through the pandemic has been that children like M are allowed to move between households. Initially with the schools closed we switched from alternating each day to alternate weeks at each house, but since the summer M has been moving back and forth daily as normal. Of course this involves an element of extra risk, an extra path that the virus could spread through, but for us there hasn’t really been an alternative. With a member of that other household working in a very busy local hospital currently overflowing with COVID-19 cases it worries me, but it wouldn’t be fair to stop her seeing her Dad so we just hope for the best.

Christmas is Cancelled, Hello Tier 4

Now that we are in Tier 4 and not allowed to see anyone outside our household for Christmas how do I make the day any more special than any other day? I haven’t even got Christmas dinner because we weren’t expecting to be home for it.

My children have been home from school for a week already. With one week left before Christmas holidays we arrived at the Reception schools gates to find them locked shut. The teachers stood on the other side turning us all away advising there had been a positive case and that the children had to self isolate. I found this especially heartbreaking because the children were wearing Father Christmas hats or antlers for a “Santa dash”. 

We went home. We made the most of it. We home schooled and I made the decision I would take my eldest out of school the following week to reduce the risk of her having to self isolate over Christmas.

While I was sad my youngest daughter would miss out on the school Christmas lunch, Christmas jumper day and her class party at least her whole year was in the same boat. My eldest missed out on all the same events with the knowledge that most of her class were enjoying themselves. She handled it well because she was so desperate to see family, but it wasn’t easy for a 9 year old who hates to miss out on anything. And now seeing family at Christmas isn’t allowed.

I never took for granted that our Christmas plans would go ahead, but they were a beacon of hope in a long hard year. We had taken precautions to reduce the risk to others and with one press conference the sacrifices felt redundant. I took away M’s Christmas parties at school for no reason. The guilt I feel is huge and for once I am glad to not be there to dry her tears because I wouldn’t be able to stay strong.

I am getting used to the idea of our quiet Christmas. I have made new plans for how we will spend the day, but there is one uncertainty remaining: will M make it home for Christmas?

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