Eimear Hutchinson: How to make Christmas magical in this Covid year

It’s Christmas... but not as we know it, says Eimear Hutchinson, who reassures us that all is not lost for the 2020 festival season — there’s still lots we can do to enjoy the weeks ahead
Eimear Hutchinson: How to make Christmas magical in this Covid year

Christmas plans have changed — however, while lots can’t happen this year, there are many traditions you can maintain. Picture: Stock

WELL, there is no doubt in anyone’s minds that this year Christmas will be a bit different — but one thing this year has probably taught us a little bit is that different isn’t always so bad (I mean it’s definitely not brilliant in the greater scheme of things, but most of us can acknowledge some small benefits that have come about because of 2020!).

I didn’t relent and put up our decorations early this year even though my eight year old got up early the day after Halloween and was heard shouting excitedly at Alexa to play ‘All I want for Christmas’ by Mariah Carey in a not too thinly veiled attempt to try and get me to put up our decorations early.

That said, I did love seeing all the trees popping up inside neighbours houses.

I feel like Christmas this year might signal the end of fairly strange year and herald the beginning of a more hopeful 2021.

For many of us, our usual Christmas plans have changed this year — the last few years we have found ourselves absolutely enthralled by the spectacular displays put on at Fota for Santa, we have been mesmerised by the Choir in the County Hall, we visited the food and craft fair in Fermoy and we have gone to England to visit our family. And none of that can happen this year which is undoubtedly very disappointing.

However, we can’t dwell, many of us have excited little faces looking up at us expecting the same magic as every other year so it’s time to get creative.

Growing up, the panto in Sligo was a huge part of our Christmas tradition — even more so considering my mum used to take part in it most years and I even got to play Tinkerbell in it one year. The panto in Cork is usually a huge part of the city’s Christmas tradition and it isn’t going ahead this year. So there may not be the fun and laughter and the late night drive home wearing pjs but there are lots of different ways to experience live entertainment this Christmas too. And perhaps cuddled up on the couch with a fire on and a hot chocolate in hand watching something unique being streamed online isn’t the worst way to spend a night either.  Cork Opera House is live streaming the annual Christmas Concert on December 19 so that will undoubtedly be a beautiful concert to tune in to. The Helix in Dublin is putting their Panto and you can buy tickets (€20 for a family) to watch that from the comfort of your own home too, no queues for toilets or imEstraining to see over big heads in front of you!

If you do want to get out for a socially distant festive night out there a host of festive movies showing at Curraheen Greyhound stadium and you don’t even have to get out of your car! €35 for a car with up to five people and films such as The Polar Express, Home Alone, Love Actually and lots more it would make a really lovely and unusual escape for a few hours.

We normally do the Advent Calendars with a little chocolate sweet for each day but this year I have taken things up a notch. I made my own Advent Calendar and it has a mix of chocolate coins or candy canes, arts and crafts bits and pieces to create festive decorations but I also included lots of things that we have to do as a family together. Some of the prompts I have included for festive family fun include having hot chocolate and playing board games together, watching a Christmas movie, going for a drive to see Christmas lights on houses or in the local towns and painting festive pictures. You might not want to do an elaborate advent calendar like me but those are some lovely things to do at home together this Christmas that might kick start some new traditions in lieu of others being called off.

Santa is being very innovative this year in the ways that he is reaching out to children – there are some events going ahead around the country but if you can’t make those you can chat to him via Zoom (I think 2020 will go down as the year of Zoom!) and in some cases he is making house calls!

It would be remiss of me to finish an article about Christmas 2020 and not acknowledge the many people for whom this Christmas might be a difficult one.

I doubt there is a household in Ireland that won’t be missing loved ones this year, from the many thousands of Irish people abroad and those who may have experienced loss this year there are many of us that will be missing loved ones from around the kitchen table on Christmas Day. Therefore, remembering the essence of Christmas this year is more important than ever – be kind to yourself, be kind to others and reach out to those who might be lonely.

Eimear writes a weekly column in WoW!

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