OPINION: This Christmas will be about behaving for the greater good
- Credit: PA
Before school breaks up, I’ve made Florence birthday invitations to give out.
I love a bit of craft and with a Cricut Joy (a cutting machine of crafting heaven), I created some super fancy looking invites for her to have a pretty grown-up party with her pals.
Afternoon tea is her choice for turning 12 and she’s so excited to have this sophisticated moment with her gang, a merge of friends old and new. Like lots of us she missed birthday celebrations last year, so this one is special.
She was born on New Year’s Eve and though close to Christmas I’ve always told her it couldn’t be better timed; she’ll never be short of a party or revellers to have a dance with.
Her birthday, unlike her dad’s which comes on January 2 when everyone is partied and moneyed out, is when everyone is happy, dressed in sparkles and ready for a long-haul evening.
This is true, usually, but then we didn’t bank on 2020, did we?
Last year’s birthday and the country had just gone back into a major lockdown. Though we knew it was for the greater good it didn’t half feel flat to not see family, friends, or even be able to go out for lunch to wish her a happy day.
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We understood though, by staying in, we were following rules and we had to do that. No gatherings of more than one person were to be outside family bubbles and it was just the way it was. Breaking rules, at best would be a fineable offence and at worst, well, life and death for some. Not worth it. Just not worth putting anyone else in danger for something so trivial in the grand scheme as a party.
We were helping contribute to saving lives, we did our bit to slow the spread and we were happy to do so. Disappointed? Yes, but as logical, kind and law-abiding people we couldn’t risk it just for our own merriment, no matter how much we felt we deserved it after a hard year.
We all sacrificed time with family last year. Some things fairly small really: My brothers didn’t go home for Christmas. Some were big: My family didn’t get to meet our youngest daughter when she was born. Others were pretty bleak: We had very poorly family members who could not be visited in hospital. But it was the right thing.
We were not being personally penalised. The government weren’t ordering us to be safe for no reason. They may not have been my party of choice but they were human beings doing a job. Boris Johnson had to back track on his previous promises – whether those promises should or shouldn’t have been made in the first place not even worth discussing – and we had to listen.
If they did break the rules when there were medical staff in hospitals having to hold hands of the dying when their own families weren’t allowed to be with them would have been abhorrent. To flout it all for our own enjoyment while those doctors and nurses were wearing PPE for 16-hour shifts? How could we? It was a no brainer for us to sacrifice a bit of partying, anything else would have been obscene. We were the lucky ones.
Florence was gutted, she had so been looking forward, but she understood. Her disappointment swiftly picked up and she got on with making the best of it with empathy. She is human.
We assumed, like we all assumed, that everyone else was being human too. Everyone else was doing the same thing and for the most part, I’m sure we all were. All except, of course, it seems our PM, his ministers and staff.
How abhorrent, how obscene and how inhuman we now know their behaviour seems to have been. I don’t know why I’m surprised after rule flouting ministers throughout the whole of lockdown? Mysterious drives and hands on bottoms of women who were not their wives just the tip.
And while I don’t rate our prime minister for anything, wouldn’t trust him to know what day of the flipping week it was on any given morning, I did expect him to at least ensure his own staff didn’t allegedly party in his own home while he had ordered the rest of the country to be lonely.
We had all had a hard year, we had all given up, sacrificed, worked under extremely difficult circumstance, or not worked because we had been let go. They may have been key workers, those parliamentary folk, but they weren’t deserving of anything the rest of the key workers weren’t deserving of. Teachers still taught, medical staff still saved lives, supermarket workers ensured we all had food and yet they all isolated and saw not their families over Christmas and into the new year. It seems Boris Johnson had lied to us previously, yet we all listened when he told us to behave. We all accepted he was behaving too.
Now lots of people won’t want to stick to rules themselves and can we blame them? Not after such a misdemeanour of epic proportions, no. One rule for them, another for us and while despite there being a police presence 24/7 at Downing Street, it’s been stated by the Met there is a lack of evidence to pursue breaches of Covid restrictions.
So why must we continue to stick to the rules, saving lives, slowing the spread and making the lives of key workers easier?
Because we are better than them, that’s why. Those of us who didn’t break rules and were careful of ourselves as well as others, we’re better than the powers that be.
This year, while we are planning our parties, making beautiful invitations for them in the hope that we won’t have to cancel, we know we’d do it again if we had to.
Because we behave for the greater good, which is, incidentally, how we should vote.
Ruth Davies has a parenting blog at www.rocknrollerbaby.co.uk