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My lockdown Christmas

23rd December, 2020

Christmas 2020 will certainly be very different, much like the rest of the year, but nevertheless we will make the most of the situation. We were already planning a quiet Christmas but after the announcement of Tier 4 and one day for celebrations, we won’t be doing much more anyway. So, myself and my family think it’s very important now more than ever to reach out to loved ones from a distance and make every moment count.

Over the Christmas period we are usually quite busy with one thing or another, from carols at church to shows, pantos and of course special gatherings. It seems strange to not be doing them, after all, it is my favourite time of the year. I thought we’d use some of this extra time to get a few things ready for a treat care package, filled with our recipes for rocky roads, vanilla cupcakes and Rice Krispies cakes to drop off at our grandparents and close family friends (of course this was all done with masks, hand sanitiser, religious cleaning and distance). It was also a thank you for taking care of us – making sure we had food after we got coronavirus for a second time at the beginning of November. To say it’s been a tough year is probably an understatement, but I think a lot of people are in the same boat. We just wanted to let them know that we were thinking of them and wishing we could be together. 

To our grandparents, we also dropped off a Christmas jigsaw which we had the same of so we could do the puzzle together. It’s little things like that that keep us connected, like the simple gesture of sending out a Christmas card, that just lets you know you’re not alone and thought about. Just like our annual Christmas pastry baking with our mama (grandma), instead of missing out this year, we put on our Christmas jumpers and aprons, set up the iPad and FaceTimed her from the kitchen so we could bake together. And let’s be honest, even though we’ve been doing this together since me and my sister were little, we would have not been able to do it without Mama’s watchful eye as she never measures for the pastry, she just knows when its right. Together, we created delicious treats. What would we have done without social media and the ability to video call to see each other’s faces this year? It has been amazing for connection.  

I have only talked about food so far and while, yes, it is a key component to Christmas (even if we are still waiting for our taste to come back), there is so much we like to do and have adapted to fit this year. Like booking a panto that’s been shown online and making sure our garden and house is decorated up prettily with lights, garland and trees so that just by looking around our living space, we are lifted with the joy and spirit of it all.

We will also be dressing up on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve because… why not? It’s the perfect excuse to dress up nice and take photos for the memories. For me, I think I need that. That feeling of normality and a break from the current norm so there’s that difference between the days. The other day I decided to dress up and get out of the house for the first time in a long time. The photos are also then ready to share with my wonderful community and friends so that I can reach out to them too. I just happened to have a red ball gown that I bought earlier in the year so I thought, this was its moment. In front of the Christmas tree, in my WHILL Model C, in the empty parking lot of a nearby hotel, I got this magical moment of forgetting about everything and just being present in that time. The handy capability of putting the arms back on the chair, doesn’t just come in handy when getting close to a table or transferring, but also for allowing your ball gown to float in the wind, who knew?

It was so much fun and after a quick change, my family and I headed out for a drive to a National Trust park, found an empty space with no one around and just spent a little half an hour out. All our energy levels are low after the virus but I had my trusty WHILL to help get me around. It was the first time I’ve taken my WHILL on a more off-road terrain and I wasn’t sure how it was going to handle the slightly muddier surface. I don’t know why I had any doubts because it handled like a dream! Just so easy to drive - the wheels had no problem with manoeuvres on the surface. I even had a comment from someone saying it looked like a transformer which is definitely a new one but I think a pretty cool one. Just call my chair Bumblebee from now on. On our way home from the park, we had a drive around, posting the last few Christmas cards but mainly to look at all the lights people have put up. Some penguins made an appearance this year, which was very cute.

So, whilst our plans may not be as expected, I’m certainly enjoying December. Christmas Eve will consist of good food, baking cookies, Christmas movies and matching PJs. Our Christmas Day will be pretty much the same as usual but more relaxed. We’ll get dressed up for our dinner, call our loved ones and maybe open a present or two (I had more time on the wrapping this year and I’m so proud of it - I really let the creativity flow). Between Christmas and New Year, we’ll watch new movies, have picnics from leftovers and just enjoy the company of each other whilst reflecting on the year. New Year’s Eve we are going to order in from our favourite restaurant and play some traditional family games like monopoly – can you believe I’ve never played monopoly?

However you spend your Christmas, New Year’s or just your days over December, I hope you have a wonderful time. Stay safe. Take care of one another. We’re staying apart so that hopefully in 2021, we can come together again. It’s not ideal but we can do it. Check in on family and friends, reach out to those who may be struggling this holiday season. Making time to spread the love from a distance. I’m really excited to see where the new year leads to, especially with the new chair. Hopefully both it and I will have more opportunities to get out there without having to isolate. It’s time to keep positive and hope for the best.

Merry Christmas to you all and wishing you a safe, happy, healthy New Year that’s filled with your favourite things ready to create those new memories!