• Jan Baker

Christmas Kindness & Traditions

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

I hope Christmas this year has been kind to you and your family. It's been a hard year all round and I think we could all do with a little Christmas kindess and cheer more than ever at the moment. Thankfully those closest to me remain safe but a neighbour of my parents was not so fortunate. She lost her husband of some 50 years on Boxing Day. Worse, nobody is allowed to visit because of COVID-19 restrictions here in Wales. The most anyone can do is post a card through the door. A stark reminder if we needed one of the hardships a lot of people have faced this year and a prompt to always be kind where we can.

I was a bit more organised in terms of wrapping presents and finished a whole day earlier than usual. Never understimate how quickly I can wrap! This meant we had time to do the "Christmas cleaning" before Christmas Eve, my favourite day of the year. Traditions stayed the same but were at the same time different. Immediate lockdown in Wales caught lots of people by surprise and we certainly hadn't even thought much about present shopping by that point, as we were busy delivering and preparing orders for everyone else! We bought the usual stocking fillers but on a much scaled-back basis. The adults this year had an appropriate number of gifts instead of the ridiculous amount we buy each year that they don't really need, and of course, my beautiful grandson had the lion's share as children do. Food though was a subject of much debate given the horrendous lorry issues in Kent. Would there be any fresh veg in the supermarkets? Should we do the food shopping early? And then, how long would the queues be to get into the supermarket with COVID-19 restrictions still in place? A lot of the present shopping was done on-line but there is one gift, a coat, that needs to be exchanged. Lockdown means the shop is shut. Exchanges are valid until the end of the year, so do we keep it in the hope that we'll still be able to change it once lockdown had ended (how long is a piece of string?) or do I tactfully suggest it's put away until the person can ahem... slim into it?

Then there was the discussion about Christmas dinner & who was doing what. We had the usual meat (but not as much). Christmas Eve tradition states we put a leg of pork in the oven by 6pm. My dad always gets a boiled fruit cake off me at Christmas. Apparently though, I was starving the family because I hadn't made any for them either so I managed to do some "extra" baking too. We also had quite a discussion when lockdown was announced about whether we would have to cook dinner and take it over to my parents instead this year. We thought that we'd maybe need to sit them down on their dining table just inside the patio doors, and have our Christmas meal on the patio outside so they could still see us through the glass and just hope it wasn't tipping down with rain! In the end, Christmas happened just as always; they are part of our every day "bubble" and we are particularly lucky to have our children and our grandson living with us during this awful pandemic.

We are not great pub goers, so closing the pubs didn't have any real impact on us as a family. Not being able to book the ballet & a meal in Cardiff however - something my daughter & I have done since she was 5 - was absolutely gutting. She had lessons when she was little, went to see Cinderella with her ballet teacher and has been hooked every since! It's part of her Christmas present every year and our traditional "Christmas" day out. We've seen them all and it's the first time in 21 years we've ever missed it.

Normally on Boxing Day, we spend the day with my mother-in-law. My husband is the youngest of three and we all gather to exchange gifts and have Christmas Day all over again. This time though it's pork & chips for dinner. We had the pork and chips but sadly, didn't see the family this year. My mother-in-law is planning an outdoor, family, summer Christmas Day instead, complete with tree and trimmings, lockdown allowing.

So, it's definitely been an extraordinary year. As we head into the New Year, kindness will be more important than ever as we wait to see whether the new vaccinations will eventually allow us to return to something near normal. Some traditions changed for us this year, some I don't think ever will. The year also begins with much uncertainty. Clinic is closed for close-contact services for the foreseeable future, and we can only wait and see whether we get any financial support from the government for this latest lockdown. The focus therefore has to be on our online shop for January, and the clinical support we can offer you in supporting your wellbeing over the coming, cold, bleak months. To this end, we have developed a COVID-19 recovery pack which we'll be making available in the very near future to go with the normal seasonal symptom support we can make for you. So stay safe, have a peaceful New Year and remember this will eventually pass. It may pass like a kidney stone but...

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