Barely twenty-four hours ago, the UK was thrown into a furore. A new variant of Coronavirus has been found in the South East and London and our Christmas Covid relaxation has been cut from five days to one. A new “Tier 4” has been introduced and parts of the UK now find themselves n=in something similar to March’s lockdown. Across the UK, people rush to be anywhere else this week, anywhere but the South East and London.
Dozens of voices are calling for us to just cancel Christmas. After all, they cry, there’ll be another one next year. What’s the big deal? People are dying from Covid-19!
And they are, and I get that, and that’s bad and sad and scary, but people die. Sadly, that’s just what we do.
I write this post because I want to share with you a story, a true story, a story that happened to me. I want to tell you about the not one, not two, but three times we didn’t have another Christmas. I share this because hopefully, you too will realise why this Christmas is so important for you.
The year was 1996, I was eight years old. I’d had a new Amy’s Pony Tales playset for Christmas and I was in my element. I’d stuffed myself full on Christmas chocolate and cold turkey sandwiches and we were getting ready to ring in the New Year with our pots and pans. Suddenly, as we made plenty of ruckus, the phone rang.
My grandfather, dead from a heart attack on New Year’s Eve 1997, just after the clock struck midnight.
Nobody could have known and nobody could have anticipated. Grandad wasn’t someone I was close to and so I wasn’t sad, but I also knew in my heart that I would never get to meet him and there was no chance to maybe get to know Grandad some day. Grandad was dead.
Roll on 2004 and I had a wonderful Christmas with my family. They were always magical, sat out in the dining room on the built-in storage benches that my father made. e told jokes, played charades, ate great food and shared plenty of laughs. My grandfather sat at the end of the table and he coughed occasionally. Grandad thought he had the remains of a cold.
On 1st April 2005, Grandad died of lung cancer. We would never have another Christmas together. Those Christmas’ were gone.
Christmas 2018, my father was complaining about a pain in his neck. A trapped nerve, they told him, painkillers and a heat pad would cure him. We had lots of fun and laughs, I did a Harley Quinn-style take on Mrs Claus that amused my whole family. Dad was in pain, but he laughed through it.
In March 2019, my father died from plasma cell leukemia.
I don’t want to alarm you, but these are three times in my life, my own life, where there simply wasn’t another Christmas. I know that you can’t catch cancer and heart disease, but these constant lockdowns and restrictions aren’t the answer, either. Maybe they are saving lives, but how many lives have been lost because of missing treatments? What about people like Sherwin Hall who won’t be celebrating Christmas with his family because this pandemic prevented him getting the cancer treatment he needed? What about the 7.8 million lost to cancer this year, do they not amount for anything? How many of the 1.6 million lost to Covid-19 would be disgusted to know that young lives have been lost to cancer because of this pandemic? There are simply no easy answers, and no one disease deserves to be favoured about the rest.
Already, there have been 1.69 million taken because of coronavirus, but 1.63 million have lost their lives this year to HIV/AIDS. Where is the government messaging all over our TVs and streets, reminding that our night of passion can be deadly? It happened in the 1980’s and HIV/AIDs still hasn’t gone away. It’s a more sensitive topic now for sure, but it’s not getting anywhere near the publicity that coronavirus is and yet it’s killed almost as many people. Why are their no adverts with catchy mottos reminding us of the importance of using condoms and not sharing needles. What gives?
I’m not telling you to go crazy and ignore the rules completely, but if you think this virus is the most important thing right now, I am urging you to reconsider. Your family is what is important, and what is important is that you see them this Christmas, and next Christmas, and hopefully even the Christmas after that. Even if you are worried and you do just have a socially distanced cup of tea or only see two relatives instead of six, please don’t just choose not to see them. Stay in your car, wind down your window and wave enthusiastically if you have to, but please don’t let anyone take away time with your family.