By Valentine Lacour
I hate to start this article with bad news, but if you are reading it, I assume that you already know that COVID-19 is very real. And it is impacting every aspect of our lives.
Coronavirus has been part of our lives for almost a year now, and it is safe to say that it won’t magically disappear on Christmas Eve (in three days, can you believe it?) and kindly let us enjoy a “normal” holiday. I am saddened that many of you have to spend Christmas away from your home and your family.
KeiSei Magazine’s survival 5 steps guide on how to enjoy Christmas during a world pandemic
1. Be kind to yourself
As mentioned earlier, since, COVID-19 has unfortunately invited itself to the Christmas table this year, many of you are stuck in a different city or country, away from your loved ones. But it is not a reason to cancel Christmas! Okay, I hear you saying that “without mum’s roast it’s not the same,” and “spending Christmas on my own is only making me feel more depressed”. And I get it, this is sad. That’s exactly why the first advice in this guide is to be kind to yourself.
And I mean it. This year has been tough and if you are reading this article, it means it didn’t get better.
You deserve to take a break from your stress and your worries.
Use this time on your own to reflect on your personal achievements – even when the achievement is “not having another nervous breakdown today”- cut yourself some slack. Do what makes you happy.
I know, personally, that even if I was stuck in London, away from my hometown this Christmas, nothing would stop me from cooking a veggie nut roast and watching the Polar Express on the 24th.
2. Create new Christmas traditions
Whether you live on your own or with others, this Christmas presents (get it) a great opportunity to create new Christmas traditions.
Before I came to England, I never even knew what a cracker was, let alone why you would pull one.
Now, I have to say, it’s one of my favourite parts of the season. Also, until not long ago, I thought that everybody put their shoes under the tree on Christmas Eve, so that Santa would know how to distribute the presents. It turns out for some families presents are mixed in a jumbled heap (because their shoes are missing, obviously!)
Even if you don’t plan on continuing any of these new traditions (which, I will concede, does defeat the purpose somewhat) you can always make memories that will last for a lifetime.
3. Organise a “virtual Christmas”
Again, if you are alone, I am truly sorry. It sucks.
And fortunately, you live in a modern technological age, which allows you to Facetime your entire Christmas dinner with your family.
Even better, through the magic of the internet, you can spend your whole night logged in on Zoom playing games with your family and friends! Many sites have put together a collection of games you can play long-distance. One such game is Truth or Lie – you basically tell a weird anecdote that happened to you (or not) and the other players have to guess if you are telling the truth! There’s also the classic “Name the Tune” amongst others.
My favourite is a good old-fashioned, personalised, Pub Quiz, that only your loved ones will know the answer to.
4. Look up Christmas activities where you are staying or nearby
If your original plan was to travel back home for Christmas, you might not know about the amazing things that are happening around you over the holiday. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a guide for things to do in every place, but I strongly advise you to do some research! You might end-ups with tickets for a (social-distanced) Christmas show or lovely market!
Unfortunately, since the British government has announced that London would remain in a Tier 3 lockdown during December, I cannot safely recommend any outdoor activities or travel.
Order a Michelin Star Christmas Dinner from Sketch.
Sketch is known for its famous amazing atmosphere, aesthetic, art, and of course food! Maybe you’ve always wanted to go, but never had the right date to go with? Well, this year, why not have Sketch deliver directly to your door?
Watch a Christmas Show online
While theatres and cinemas are closing their doors for safety reasons, I strongly encourage you to keep supporting their work and enjoy a Christmas show from the comfort of your home!
The Old Vic Theatre is offering “tickets” to access their online performance of A Christmas Carol. Many other performances will be available to watch on screen this Christmas including The Magic of Christmas (Perthshire’s Pitlochry Festival Theatre); Christmas at the (Snow) Globe (Shakespeare’s Globe) and A Merry Little Christmas Celebration (Chichester Festival Theatre).
Take a Christmas online class
Now you have all this time for yourself at home (again, I know), you can finally learn how to make a Christmas wreath or ornament.
The website “Tea and Crafting” is offering a range of creative online classes this Christmas! Don’t hesitate to check them out!
5. Use this time to take care of others: Volunteer!
Since Covid-19 (or anything else) forces you to spend Christmas away from your home this year, remember that you are not alone. Whether because they are homeless, refugees, residents in a hospital or retirement home, or simply because they have no close family or friends, thousands of people each year are forced to spend the holiday season by themselves. With this in mind….
Instead of spending Christmas alone, why don’t you volunteer this year?
Maybe you’ve thought about it before but were always too busy. I’m not blaming you: it’s true that the end of the year is always a rush! Or perhaps you just didn’t know where to offer your help?
To help you take the first steps into volunteering, I have selected a few organisations in London that would gladly accept your support this winter!
The Royal Voluntary Service
The Royal Voluntary Service has been doing an amazing job for years, providing companionship to isolated people. They also provide services to communities and the NHS, but the list of available services is currently being updated in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a volunteer, you will be matched with an elderly person looking for companionship and friendly social interactions.
Refuge is an organisation that fights against domestic violence and supports the women and children who experience it. Coronavirus has exacerbated the abuse suffered by individuals forced to stay home during the lockdown, and survivors need your assistance more than ever.
Volunteers can work in many different roles including domestic abuse helpline operator, office worker, and mentor (amongst others). To volunteer you must be willing to make a time commitment of at least three months.
Maybe this holiday would be a good time to start helping to make this world a better place for everyone.
Crisis (at Christmas) is a UK national charity helping to get people off the street. They offer essential services such as free showers, hot meals, health care check-ups, and much more.
This year is special due to Coronavirus, and volunteers are selected for the positions that are the most needed. If you are not selected this year, keep in mind that you can always donate and/or get involved next year!
I hope this (non-exhaustive) list of suggestions will help you to have a wonderful Christmas day! Tell us about your favourite Christmas traditions, games, or charitable volunteering opportunities, in the comments below!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!