Colette Sheridan: Christmas day home alone is looking like a real possibility for me

How am I going to get through the day, so asks Colette Sheridan, ahead of Christmas Day
Colette Sheridan: Christmas day home alone is looking like a real possibility for me

HOW COVID HAS CHANGED CHRISTMAS: How will you get through the day if you are spending Christmas alone? Picture: Stock

IT looks like I could be spending Christmas Day in this year of Covid alone, ochón, ochón.

How am I going to get through the day? Will I make an effort to cook a delicious meal? But lovely food is best enjoyed in the company of others.

Will I sprawl on the couch, gorge on Cadbury’s Roses and watch the Queen’s speech, wondering how many will be at her table for the annual feast? It could be a desultory day for me.

I used to love Christmas — all that running around to pubs where various friends, some back from abroad, were drinking enthusiastically. The Long Valley was the nexus of this heightened sociability. There were always too many people to see, too much good cheer to dispense.

Cork’s Bermuda triangle was made up of the Long Valley, the Hi-Bi and Counihans where you could get lost, going from one to the other, checking out the craic quotient. It was all a bit mad.

And then Christmas Day, en famille, beckoned, including, for us, a midday visit to a family member’s household for drinks and exchanging gifts. It was always great fun.

I think I have enough memories to get me through this year’s big day without feeling deprived.

But will memories suffice? Of course not.

You can’t beat the company of others. We are social beings. And while I’m not a big Christmas bunny any more, I have always looked forward to the winter celebrations. It marks the end of a year, in this instance, a challenging year.

It’s no wonder people want to let loose, forget their troubles and get tanked (or preferably just mildly merry).

We seem to be engaged in brinkmanship. Will people ‘do Christmas’ to excess? Doesn’t everyone deserve a break?

On the other hand, the prospect of contracting Covid is scary. And it is very real.

As chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, said last Friday, there has been “too much social contact” in the past couple of weeks. You may think that Holohan is your archetypal spoilsport. But he says it as it is. In the shadow of the grim reaper.

And he’s not alone. Associate professor at Trinity College, Dublin, Tomás Ryan, thinks we should cancel all Christmas celebrations this year and instead wait until next year.

One way of doing this would be to delay Christmas until the end of January “and have a real Christmas and a real party then,” he said to 98fm. I don’t think that would wash with most people living in Ireland.

We are all actually a bit childish about Christmas. We love our family’s traditions, be it champagne, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast (I know of one family that indulges in this fairly posh treat every year) or a bracing swim in Myrtleville followed by a snifter of whisky before the dinner, or a loopy game of charades (at my usual host’s table after a truly scrumptious meal).

There is a clinging to tried and trusted ways of spending Christmas Day. It is reassuring in a world gone mad.

Covid-19 has driven us around the bend, causing sickness, death, unemployment, depression, loneliness and large dollops of being utterly fed up.

I feel very sorry for the hospitality industry that is bearing the brunt of lockdowns. It seems inevitable that a period of celebration will end in lockdown. And the awful thing is, it’s a never-ending cycle. Roll on the vaccine.

There seems to be no end to wet pubs (to use that awful term) and restaurants closing down when the Covid cases spike. If the current rate of cases continues, there could be 700 to 1,200 cases a day by the second week in January, according to Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET epidemiological modelling advisory group. Is that risk really worth gatherings of more than two households or parties where alcohol will result in inhibitions being cast aside?

While my drink of choice (well, necessity,) is alcohol-free Schloer, I know I am in the minority. My possible Christmas home alone would be a sober affair. But I’d make up for it in calories consumed because I’m a sucker for chocolate.

And I just had a thought there. I will treat myself to a carton of Haagen Dazs if I’m on my own on that most sociable day of the year.

A friend in Dublin has also been contemplating spending Christmas Day on her tod. She plans to do lots of yoga if alone. Now, that would be a step too far for me.

The only exercise I’ll take will involve bringing spoons of ice-cream to mouth.

Happy Christmas, whatever way it falls!

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