A Christmas Like No Other
(By Susanna Collier)
The spectre of Covid looms large above the nation…
Shops shut for extended periods of time, employees being advised to ‘work from home’, a country crippled economically and a struggling NHS on the verge of being overwhelmed…
Gyms closing everywhere around, social gatherings limited to numbers in single figures, people complaining of weight gain at every given opportunity.
But I will not let this stop me; Covid will not win.
I start a rigorous and regular regime of diet and exercise; adopting once again my fish diet that was so effective in the days when Weight Watchers meetings were still open; going for daily walks around my area and participating in an exercise ‘Boot Camp’ held by staff at Melville House in the back car park.
In fact, nothing can stop my determination to lead a normal and fulfilling life; and, in the weeks leading up to the Christmas, not only does this comprise focusing on my health and exercise, but also in making preparations for the big event, by purchasing various gifts online and in person for friends and family.
I do this with the help of my Service Manager, Anabel, who generously gives me an allocated Christmas present budget and also supports me to purchase Christmas presents online.
The time is getting closer…
Anticipation fills the hearts and lungs of the country, and the nation collectively breaths inwardly, as it awaits the decision that will determine what kind of Christmas the majority of its people will spend this year…
I, too, await, anxiously; my nerves are on tenterhooks; listening intently to the broadcast I had so long feared and so long expected.
Boris Johnson is announcing the news that London will be plunged into Tier-4 status over Christmas, making my planned stay with my Mother impossible.
At first, I feel almost inconsolable and very distressed; then I phone my Mum and she comforts me by suggesting that I can come to see her at Easter instead.
Eventually, I come to terms with the new reality of Christmas, and endeavour to make as much of the celebration as possible.
On Christmas Eve, there is a feeling of anticipation and excitement in the air; the same feeling of magic that seems to imbue every Christmas I have ever enjoyed since childhood.
I spend the evening frantically but happily sorting through my extensive collection of clothing and jewellery, in the quest to find the perfect ensemble for the day ahead.
It is to be a day of celebration, after all!
I arise, bright and early, and in good spirits; and go downstairs to speak to the staff about the forthcoming day and our plans for that day.
The Service Manager, Anabel, is cooking special Christmas and Boxing Day meals, including chicken soup, roast beef and lamb and baked salmon with hollandaise sauce, roast parsnips and organic carrots sprinkled with crushed garlic and spring onions.
In the morning, one of my friends from another flat in the building comes over for a cup of tea and to make small (and large!) talk with me; at the same time we make sure to be mindful of social distancing, handwashing and other Covid-19 regulations.
We exchange presents; I give her a perfume gift set and a giant, cuddly toy snowman; which she seems extremely pleased with; and I, in turn, receive a large bottle of perfume and a perfume gift set; which I am equally grateful for.
Once she leaves, I watch a televised version of ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’, which fills me with an intense feeling of nostalgia and really brings the magic of Christmas and childhood to life for me.
In the evening, I phone my Mum again, and we exchange stories of our uniquely quiet, yet satisfying, Christmas.
New Year’s is peppered with the same rich array of delectable delights and convivial celebrations.
The staff make the occasion special for us by cooking the delicious chicken soup again and we are also treated to chicken in soya sauce with basmati rice, which is equally as flavourful.
In addition to this, we receive some sweet treats in the form of a miniature packet of Lindor truffles, a small-but-scrumptious slab of sponge cake and a delightfully colourful fairy cake adorned with multitudinous buttercream icing.
Overall, I enjoyed my Christmas like no other, and although I couldn’t be with my Mother, I spent good quality time with my friend and my flat mate, and the staff worked hard to provide a satisfying and memorable experience for all.