So, Christmas 2021, let’s be having you – in whatever shape you take

Bring on the fun, restriction-compliant festivities and break from the norm

’Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house, children were bouncing off the walls with excitement and teens were complaining about Christmas exams.

And mama in her Christmas tree jumper – complete with jangling decorations – and papa, still in his work attire, wondered if they’d ever be finished and ready for the big day, so that they could finally settle down, and open the Christmas sherry (because naps, sleep and all that lark is for wimps.)

And as chaos reigned supreme, like it does most other weeks of the year in fairness, mama wondered if she’d done enough to make Christmas magical. Would there be happy memories? Had she done enough in the build-up? Was there time for all the traditions? And would it matter if things weren’t perfect?

Because she forgot, you see, that perfect means different things to different people and she had no control over the pandemic and how it might scupper the best laid plans. And she almost forgot how wonderful it is that she loves Christmas again in the first place, when for a time she thought it might be tarnished forever after a Christmas time miscarriage many years ago, that had left her associating the season with her baby who was never born.


Until she was reminded by the excitement of having a newly minted teenager in the house, himself a rainbow baby, following a different storm. The middle child, whose December birthday can sometimes be overshadowed by the excitement of the festivities and the anticipation of the man in the big red suit’s arrival.

Thirteen. I’m still not quite sure how that can be. Our Christmas baby. His delivery even postponed until the afternoon to facilitate his mother attending his big brother’s school nativity show (remember those?). The one who really feels things, and has an interest in everyone and everything. The one who was the best Christmas gift ever. Changing the narrative, and power of memory. Never forgetting, but no longer consumed.

Carpe Diem, isn't something you can necessarily do during a pandemic

I think the pandemic, however, hearing the stories of others, and the passing of two groundhog years has perhaps made me a little more morbid and lamenting than previous years. Not necessarily about just Covid itself, but about the time lost – those periods over the last two years where it seemed we were existing rather than living. The experiences and celebrations missed and the fear that opportunities for the free and easy gatherings I long for, with all I hold near and dear, are never a guarantee in the future. Carpe Diem, isn’t something you can necessarily do during a pandemic.

The troops are oblivious here to the things their mother ponders and are caught up entirely in the magic of the season instead, as it should be. The smallies are still enchanted by the cursed elf on the shelf, who has roused mama from her slumber in the small hours of the night on more than one occasion with sudden mid-dream clatter, and remembrance of the antics he should be up to.

It may only be the third year he’s visited our house, but his mischievousness brings such joy to them that they can’t seem to remember the Christmases before he came. “I’m so happy you’re back,” the youngest whispered to him as the elf sat amid a mountain of flour on my hall table. “C’mere,” another child hissed at a sibling, leading him to a different room where they could continue their squabbles in peace, out of the watchful elf’s eyeshot. We wouldn’t want these things getting back to Santa after all. It’s not just the children who the wretched elf has made laugh.

We’re into the final days’ countdown, and there’s still so much to do. The usual panic is afoot. I’ll be going until the last minute, no doubt, in spite of annual promises that next year will be different. An unintended tradition, you might say.

The Christmas tree lights have flickered incessantly since mid-November, keeping spirits up in the process, and the electricity meter racing. The cookies for Santa and some extra, of course, for watching The Snowman before bed will be made, and burnt, on Christmas Eve – just like they always are. And the soup for starters on Christmas Day will come from a carton, because I know my limitations.

And I’ll feed off the excitement of my own personal rent-a-crowd, incredibly thankful to have made it through the year relatively unscathed, with all my loved ones healthy and well. Grateful for the many perfect moments in a most imperfect time.

So Christmas 2021, let’s be having you, in whatever shape you take. Bring on the fun, restriction-compliant festivities and break from the norm.

And hear me exclaim as I write out of sight, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a gentle reminder that greaseproof paper is apparently not optional when making cookies for Santa.