Apparently when I went back to Hull on the weekend before lockdown, in March, I joked to my parents that I might not even be back at Christmas.
Yet the last month or so I’d been slowly mentally preparing myself for the idea that I would be spending my first Christmas away from my parents.
Sure, I could have said “fuck it” and broken the rules – it wouldn’t be the first time in my life. But with covid surging across London and my parents not in a zero risk group, it just wasn’t worth the risk. I don’t moralise on anyone else taking a different decision, but for me, it was irresponsible to take such a risk in my situation, and have the worry.
Thankfully, and for about the millionth time this year that I’ve been thankful, my dear sister also lives in London. So I wasn’t alone.
Once we recovered from the emotional stabbing by Boris Johnson last Saturday, I sent my family a plan of action for Christmas, so we could try to replicate as best as possible.
On Christmas Eve we had a Zoom call with my parents – shockingly my Dad was like a natural using Zoom for his first time ever. He even turned the screen the right way around.
I suggested watching an online pantomime, which I should have researched a little more – I thought was dreadful – I did get into it and it was well produced, but aimed at 5 year olds. My Dad loved it. It was definitely aimed at 5 year olds. I always through that pantomimes at least had copious innuendo involved even if just for kids, but maybe that was just growing up in Hull.
Once the second Zoom call ended and I had consumed over a bottle of red wine and some beers, I did feel some sadness at being alone in London on Christmas Eve, instead of with my family. And then ate 6 mini mince pies.
So on Christmas Day, my sister picked me up from Harrow and drove me back to hers – her flatmate was also there due to similar decision-making so there were 3 of us.
Starting off with the traditional bacon sandwich and glass of fizz – though I eschewed Bucks Fizz for a beer. Bucks Fizz? Eeeek. Give me a Japanese-themed can of IPA to celebrate not having visited Japan this year.
Most of the presents were in the wrong city, but me and my sister were able to swap presents, and my parents had some to open also.
Christmas dinner was from the Red Lion & Sun in Highgate – and yes, has the appearance of being provided by a homeless shelter, as one friend commented.
It does look better on a plate, but it still wasn’t that great. My mother isn’t the most amazing cook, but I definitely missed her Christmas dinner. The Red Lion & Sun can do much better – I know that, but at £31 including cauliflower cheese (which was very good) and dessert (also very good), I thought pretty decent value for London on Christmas Day.
Speaking to the guy who runs it on Twitter after, he said it was an intense and not fun day – they made 367 meals which sounds like a lot of saving Christmas to someone like myself that has probably never cooked for more than 3 people at once. He didn’t ask me what I thought of it!
Then we had the privilege of my grandma’s first ever video call. No, she couldn’t always hear us. Yes, she did try to feed us cheesecake through the ipad and tell us off for not opening our mouths. She was on cracking form, I have to say.
More drinks and a 3rd Zoom call of the day followed with my parents, and this was followed by a quiz with my sister’s flatmate’s family, which was more fun than I expected as I always seem to think I’ll get bored in a quiz. Winning does help.
Alas, the day ended with a 30-40 minute Uber journey home suffocating in a mask – fuck I was so out of breath by time I got home. Really nice taxi driver who clearly wanted a chat, but I just cannot do talking and not breathing.
Christmas Day obviously wasn’t what any of us were hoping for, there is a large unmet spiritual hole where I should have had a family Christmas – but at the same time, I actually still had a great day. It was a Christmas to make the best of things (or to hide how good a time you had if you did break the rules!) – and we made the best of things.
It did also make me ponder what it is like for those people out there who don’t have anyone. My cheap Poundland cracker hat is raised to those who give up their Christmas Day to help those in a homeless shelter, etc.
Roll on proper Christmas, whenever you may be.