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Will you be celebrating Christmas remotely?

A year unlike any other has meant changes to the way we’d normally do things, and Christmas is no different. How will you be spending your Christmas this year?

Like so many others around the world, I’ve spent a number of days alone in 2020. I’ve gone from looking forward to a few quiet hours (or even a whole weekend!) to myself, to nine months of the same four walls and just myself and a few streaming platforms for entertainment.

I can finally say, I’m definitely fed up with being alone.

Loneliness tends to be highlighted on special occasions such as birthdays or holidays – the days many would usually spend with loved ones.

As the festive season draws ever closer there’s been a lot of discussion around whether people will be able to see their families this Christmas – it reminded me of all the sacrifices so many people have made this year.

If you are spending Christmas alone this year, I thought I’d share a few of my own tips for combating loneliness.

Planning your day

If you know that you’ll be spending Christmas on your own then I’d recommend planning your day out in advance – I’ve found having a schedule can help with a sense of structure.

You could factor in cooking time, TV and film watching or a midday walk. A sense of normality can really help boost your mood, especially this year of all years.

But as it is 2020, we also have the technology to connect with our loved ones remotely.

Video and phone calls

Having the ability to video call friends and family has really helped me feel less lonely throughout the pandemic – I’d definitely recommend taking a part of your day to arrange a call.

Letting people know you’re thinking of them, and them of you, is vital in tackling loneliness – sometimes all we need to do is reach out to make someone’s day.

But if you don’t have anyone to reach out to, remember the Samaritans are always there for people any time, day or night.

Are you having a virtual Christmas?

It might not be quite as exciting and fun as the real thing, but a virtual Christmas over Zoom, Google Meet or however you’ve been getting in touch this year is an option if you feel it’s too risky to travel long distances or bubble with another household.

2020 really was the year of the online quiz, so while we may be a bit quizzed out, there are still plenty of fun games you can play over video that lots of people can get involved with, even if you are in separate houses.

One of our teams has even tried a few of them out in advance, so you know what to expect!

Whatever you end up doing this year, I think it’s an important time to remember the phrase ‘be kind’. It’s been a difficult year for us all, so I’ll be doing my best to remember some of the positives, and hoping for better times ahead.

How will you be spending your Christmas this year? Is a virtual Christmas the way to go? Let me know what you’ll be up to.

If you need additional support

Even when there isn’t a pandemic, for many the winter holidays can be a very difficult period.

Support is available from many of the following organisations:

  • Samaritans provides confidential and non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide.

    Call 116 123 (available 24 hours a day)
  • Mind Infoline provides confidential mental health information services, including where to get help.

    Call 0300 123 3393 (9am – 6pm, Monday to Friday) or text 86463
  • Side by Side (formerly Elefriends) is a supportive online community for you to be yourself and talk about anything in a safe, respectful, and friendly space.
  • CALM, or Campaign Against Living Miserably, is a charity aimed at preventing male suicide.

    Call 0800 58 58 58 or use their webchat function (both 5pm – midnight)
  • NHS 111 – you can call if you or someone you know requires urgent care, but it is not life-threatening.
    Your GP can also be a source of support, but may be less available during the holiday period.

I am not sure why there is so much hype about Christmas unless you have young children.

I will be on my own this year because of my high risk situation, but I don’t mind at all. I will cook a normal Christmas Turkey dinner, but this year without pigs in blankets and all the other usual trimmings. As long as I have heat and enough food and drink I will have a quiet day and reminisce on Christmases when we were a family and the exhaustion I felt after preparing and cooking a full Christmas lunch with home made Christmas pudding and mince pies, usually between 70 and 80, which would last well into the following week before New .Year. I will probably think about sisters and brothers and one of my four children now passed on, and contemplate on what they would make of the pandemic, and the effect it has had on life in general and the different way people are coping with it. Also I will spare a thought for all the nursing staff who will be working round the clock caring for its victims and their families who are left at home without them.

I will watch the Queens speech and enjoy a little nap if there is nothing worth watching on TV, but Christmas Day will hopefully be peaceful, calm and quietly reflective.

I usually spend Christmas and New Year with family in the highlands of Scotland. It’s a long drive but I like to have my car there so that I can get out and about during my stay. They are great hosts, but I won’t be visiting them this Christmas.

Nothing has yet been planned but I expect I will spend plenty of time on the phone or video calls to friends, as I have been doing for the past nine months. I’m in a ‘bubble’ with a friend and we will have a quiet Christmas plus walking off any overindulgence when weather permits. If the goose does not materialise it will be a disappointment but there’s food in the freezer. The Christmas pud and Christmas cake are already made.

I feel very sorry for friends who were planning to meet up with their family but are now going to be alone thanks to the very necessary restrictions.

It is all a bit sad and scary. For the first time in my life I will be spending Christmas entirely alone. However there are some positives. No sprouts, no turkey, control of the remote, no football or sport of any kind in fact, but able to watch all the racing, can watch Dr Who and Call the Midwife from the sofa and not banished to the piano stool in the kitchen, no grumpy old man sitting chuntering n the corner, no squabbling children, no temptation from the tin of Quality Street or Roses.