A Pandemic New Year (Week 13)

Saturday (Boxing Day)

As you may have gathered from my previous post, Christmas Day (and week and month) is generally manic in a Clergy household, and this year has been no different. Which is why, as much as I love Christmas, I find that each year I am increasingly living for Boxing Day!

For there is one main rule in our house on Boxing Day: you must wear a Onesie. All day. No showers, no make up, no getting dressed, no answering the door!

Bliss.

We play games, watch movies, eat leftovers, sweets and easy oven food. It is as chill as you can get with three energetic kids involved. Which is chill enough for me!

Image of the week. The Youngest’s reaction to The Eldest on Sing Star! It runs in the family…

Sunday

Husband, on the other hand, lives for the 27th. Living away from family, Boxing Day still involves video calls and opening presents, which thus includes further hyped-up or melted-down potential. The day after, however, offers an even further reduction in communication with the outside world, which suits my increasingly anti-social Husband much better!

It also offers naps.

Which suits everyone.

By this point in 2020, however, we have been indoors for at least 3 days solid (owing to… I dunno… decades… of Tier 3 restrictions and Zoom-based Church?) So, like squint-eyed moles in moth-bitten layers, we shake off the cabin fever and finally venture outside!

It begins with a run up and down the football pitch, and turns into a two hour amble either side of the canal. During which we finally manage to get a decent whole-household-bubble selfie, The Youngest gets so cold I put my gloves on her feet, The Boy falls buckaroo-style off Husband’s back and cuts his face, whilst The Eldest inexplicably asks, “did you feel anything hard last night, Mummy?” Causing the Lodger to spit out her drink and walk the other way!

We get home for baths and blankets and end up watching the recorded production of Dick Whittington at the National Theatre. It is fantastic, but is also the first thing to make me feel sad for a while. Recorded back in early December, when the theatre was briefly able to reopen, the audience is notably bare. With social distancing in place, full capacity still appears to be barely half a cup... and now they are closed again. With the love of theatre in our bones and blood, the televised reality of the pandemic’s effect on this industry brings me close to tears. I can’t bear to imagine a world without it!

(A fundraising shop can be found here.)

Monday

Ah, what a gift! Monday brings with it that nostalgic British experience of going to bed, observing “it’s a bit nippy” and waking up to a surprising snow covered wonderland!

The kids are so very excited, and it is the first year – after repeated showings of The Snowman and The Snowdog– that the Youngest really understands what is going on. “SNOW!!!” She shouts and bangs at the window, before informing me that, “Santa’s been again!” Which is just too cute.

We head straight outside at 8am to build a snowman and, quite frankly, the filthiest looking Snowdog I’ve ever seen. (Apparently this is what happens when you roll your snow from a bog!)

The Lodger joins in too and we remark on the absolute novelty of finding all six of us not only up and dressed but outside before 9am! (I resist the urge to text Facebook Fit Mum with this information, presuming she’s already climbed a mountain with her clan and is back home for breakfast! Facebook soon confirms this suspicion is correct, so I enjoy our 8am Snowman in the safety of my own misplaced smugness...)

After a couple of hours (hallelujah!), the kids have finally run out of snow and are ready to come in. Husband is happy holding the rather literal blanket fort, and so I take myself off for a walk down the canal. I pray; breathe in the crisp December blue; listen to some precious voice notes from my BFF in Australia and try to picture the life she describes down-under whilst simultaneously photographing the icey scenes in front of me. Gosh, what a fascinating Creation we inhabit!

Tuesday

The rest of the clan are still happy to play in the snow for an hour before breakfast and then spend the rest of the day hibernating. I, however, am still feeling the cabin fever and so I walk into town to pick up some final bits for the Eldest’s birthday. (Week after Christmas- the joys!)

Shopping on my own is another novelty and I do enjoy it. Yet, again, it is the “Closing Down Sale” signs that creep their way in to my closed-down conscience and rather abruptly confront it with the very real price some people are having to pay for this pandemic. Normally, I confess to being a bit of a vulture when it comes to 70% off; but my heart just isn’t in it today. I’d rather be at home, ignoring everything, to be absolutely honest. I call my parents on the way home and we fake-plan a fake-holiday that very probably won’t happen. That’s more like it!

Aaaand… Speaking of escapism…

After kiddy bedtime, Husband, the Lodger and I resume our new evening tradition-slash-obsession: watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies on Amazon Prime! They are so warm and fuzzy and comfortingly predicatble that I’ve pretty much decided to keep on watching them until Easter. Because… why not?!

(Just make sure to watch the American ones if you follow suit. The British ones have far too much grit (lolz) and realism… I mean, one guy even ends up alone because he still misses his dead wife too much. What’s that about?! Na-ah. All you need is fake snow, matching white teeth, a party planner, a guy who hates Christmas, a girl with a first-world decision to make and a U-rated kiss at the end. Which is perfect because Prime has a bunch of plots exactly like that and we’re working our way through the lot!)

Boat. Afloat.

Wednesday

Today it takes us all afternoon to leave the house. When we finally get into the car, however, it won’t start. Husband calls the garage and confesses relief at the excuse to stay home! The kids build more snow sculptures in the garden, whilst The Lodger and I walk to Sainsbury’s to get a final couple of bits for the birthday this weekend.

It is colder, icier and foggier today. On the way home, Husband calls to say I timed the shopping well: we enter “Tier 4” lockdown at midnight tonight. Effecting us most are the restrictions on non-essential shops, gyms, and dance studios; there is a delayed start for secondary schools and no more than two people from different bubbles are allowed to meet together outside. So far, primary schools and churches are still allowed to open.

It doesn’t overly effect us at the moment; we are pretty much hibernating anyway. But the language is affective. The sense that we are going backwards rather than forwards; that things are worse than we let ourselves believe. It is an interesting move to begin on the 31st of December too; necessary, no doubt… but “Happy New Year!” really doesn’t feel much to shout about! Don’t get me wrong, I believe there’s good to be found in every day we are given… but there certainly doesn’t feel anything “new” about it, to be honest.

Thursday

New Year’s Eve and the first day of Tier 4. We are supposed to be having a little party for the children with Bubble Mum and the Bubblettes today, but she isn’t feeling up to it in the end. And so we end up having a much more relaxed day than planned. We still have a party tea with the kids; play a bit of Sing Star, watch The Greatest Showman and then dance to the credits before bed. Once they are asleep, we divert from Hallmark ever-so-slightly and watch New Years Eve. (If only because Husband and I have always shared an open affinity for Zac Efron movies. Possibly for different reasons… I’m not quite sure… I find it’s best not to ask!)

Far too late in the day, I notice that my blog count for 2020 is 39… and belatedly challenge my mushy rom-com brain to round it up! I fail. It’s half past midnight when I post my previous offering, but as most of it was written in 2020 I decide to take it anyway. 40 posts is at least 100% increase on previous years, and apparently incorporates over 70,000 words, reaches 22 countries and is read by 77% more people than it was the year before! I am pretty darn proud of that, to be honest. And, as I hold my invisible Waffling On Award, I would just like to thank all those readers who have followed and stuck with it; those who have let me know it’s worth writing and have encouraged me to continue. If nothing else, this blog has greatly benefited my own mental health and hopefully reassured some other cracked pots that we are all in this together!

Friday (New Years Day)

New Years Day walk.

Everyone does a New Year’s Day walk, right?

We talk. About the walk.

The walk we are definitely going to do.

In a minute.

Just after this talk…

It is near enough sunset by the time we leave the house. We have a quick kick about on the football field in the snow, before the younger two moan and Husband very willingly takes them home. The Lodger already sat this one out, and so I manage to snatch a bit of one-to-one time with The Eldest. It is beautiful! Both the time, the girl, AND the sunset…

Seriously. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but it is easy to forget sometimes, when she is the loudest screecher in a noisy room, that this child is just pure joy. Funny, enthusiastic, and high-spirited- with an unlimitled imagination. She’s an absolute delight, especially when you get her alone, and I still marvel at the fact she’s mine! I’m so grateful for the fresh reminder, and return home a little warmer inside.

Once home, The Boy greets us with the biggest and best of hugs, and The Youngest beams the most beautiful of smiles. 2020 threw a lot at us all, didn’t it? But for me, these three have made it all worth while.

2020… I am grateful for the time we’ve been given, that we would never have experienced before.

Time to slow down, zoom in and focus… to be together and learn so much more.

2021 feels a bit daunting. There are faces I dare not hope to see. But I do hope to remain grateful, daily, that I get to soak up these three.

Happy New Year!

Cheers!

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