OPINION: Make a pledge to stay connected – however you do Christmas this year
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Make sure you spread the festive cheer this Christmas says Helen McDermott
Time flies. I daresay this paper’s columnist Nick Richards will be as surprised as I was to realise that it’s nearly a year since he and I agreed to disagree about whether or not to send any Christmas cards. What he said was that they were a waste of time and money and that he was content to use email or whatever, more modern ways of wishing his family and friends a happy time. I said that I still preferred good old-fashioned cards because, rather like books, they can be lovely things, sometimes good enough to keep and even to cherish.
I’m not sure what Nick’s plans are this year for sending greetings but I’m about to make a start, ploughing through the address book and wondering what to write this time.
I’m no fan of those things called round robins but I do like to include a brief personal message with a word or two about how we are and what we’ve been up to, and there’s always a promise to meet in the coming year. It’s not that we actually keep that promise but the thought is always there. When you think about it the chance of keeping such a promise is pretty slim anyway, but we can still live in hope.
It also seems inappropriate to send jolly cards with happy scenes showing how we’d like to think of Christmas with us all gathered together round the Yuletide fire. (There are some pretty phoney-looking ones on the telly at the moment.)
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Some of the messages inside the cards are a bit off-beat, shouting stuff like ‘Merry Christmas and health and happiness for the New Year’ and hoping all our dreams come true. Some day we may return to some sort of normality, but to rub it in how jolly we should be at this time of year in this year of all years does seem a bit heartless.
We happen to be lucky in having a garden and a warm house, plus close friends who care (not to mention two cats who don’t but we like to think they do.) We lost two friends this year through illness, and thanks to lockdown we were unable to get together with other old friends and say goodbye. There were some good long phone calls though.
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I imagine there will be a good many Zoom Christmases this year and smartphones will be working overtime. A friend and I were talking about Christmas prospects. She and her partner usually have a cracking affair with friends and family and a giant tree. And she does all the cooking. But not this year. “Can’t say I’ll miss it,” she said. “It’ll be nice to have a year off and not feel guilty about not having them all round.”
Ah, guilt. I expect quite a few weary Christmas cooks will be thinking the same and relishing the thought of a rest. My friend and I talked about how we not only felt no guilt about dodging the chores but also how we’d slowed down in various other ways.
As a one-time news presenter I spent years worrying about making it to the big-time (it never happened ...) or keeping a job when at the age of about 30 I was looking over my shoulder because of the bosses becoming tired of me.
Who cares what I once hoped to be? Now none of it matters.
Family and friends are what matters. We don’t know what the future holds and my friend and I strengthened our resolve to live for the day.
We’ve even written it in our Christmas cards.
LIVE FOR THE DAY!