Last night, PM Boris Johnson held an emergency press conference to announce that London and much of Southeast England would be moving into Tier 4, effective at midnight. This came as a surprise to most of us, because as far as we knew, it was a 3-tier system. Tier 4 was a totally new level they’d just added. The new strain of the virus they’ve discovered here in the UK seems to be even more highly transmissible than the original coronavirus.
For some, this meant canceling their Christmas plans to get together with family or friends. For others, such as my friend Amelia, this meant a mad dash to pack up the car and get to Granny’s house in the countryside before midnight, when their family Christmas plans would turn back into pumpkins. So now instead of isolating for a few more days between the end of school term and mixing with extended family in other households for Christmas, many families will just go for it and hope for the best.
For the people who own or run businesses, this meant yet again madly trying to work out whether they’d have to close their doors the very next day. Because of course the government guidelines were characteristically vague, as Tier 4 had only just been made up.
For us, we are lucky. My mom is already here and we aren’t going anywhere else anytime soon. The kids are out of school and we hadn’t booked them into any camps or activities over the holidays. M continues to work from home, as he’s done since March. Grocery orders are confirmed for this week, and my Christmas shopping is pretty much done. I even managed to take my mom into central London one day last week, when she had finished her 10-day quarantine period and we were still in Tier 2 (ah, those were the days…). We even had a (mostly) sunny day for it!
The only Christmas plans we had that are now cancelled were ice skating at Hampton Court Palace today, and Christmas at Kew Gardens on Boxing Day. The kids are disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a very minor sacrifice. So many of our plans for fun outings and trips have been cancelled this year that I’ve just come to expect that anytime I make plans, they might not happen. C’est la vie in 2020.
Some news headlines are declaring that Boris has “cancelled Christmas.” Of course, anyone who has ever read or watched The Grinch knows it is impossible to cancel Christmas. But I feel my heart breaking for the people who will be alone for the holidays, and aren’t able to have family visit them. And I am once again so grateful that my mom made it here.
So now we hunker down for however long it takes to get the numbers under control again, and hope we can come out of this before the Easter holidays. At least this time, there’s a vaccine being distributed, so we can potentially see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. And we’ve been assured that Santa Claus has been elf-isolating and has been tested for santibodies and is officially cleared to work as usual on Christmas Eve.
I hope you all have a safe and healthy holiday. Sending you a big virtual CHEERS to the new year! 2021, the bar has been set pretty low for you, so please don’t disappoint us.
P.S. Our Christmas-themed trick-or-treat trail was the best idea I had all year, and definitely the highlight of the Christmas season so far. I highly recommend this as a Christmas party alternative this year. Actually, we might just do this every year, it was that fun.
Everyone wore Christmas jumpers and hats (or in one little boy’s case, a full Santa suit, complete with padded tummy), and each house handed out Christmas treats or goody bags to the kids, and poured mulled wine for the parents. (It was BYO travel mug.)
We did it with about 10 families from E’s class, and had a route and a schedule so everyone would be home at the time that people stopped by their house. We were able to have a little chat from 2m away on the doorstep for a few minutes at each, so it was just as good as if we’d been able to have the typical class parents’ Christmas party in a pub. Actually, probably better, as we could hear each other properly.
The kids ended up with a haul that rivaled Halloween, and definitely beat it out in terms of quality. Plus, no one else was out “trick-or-treating” that night except our group, so it was a lot easier to socially distance from people as opposed to Halloween. It was such a fun evening for the kids and grownups alike, I can’t recommend this enough!