NICKY MARR: Enjoy yourself while still being sensible
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Have you tried to have a conversation with anyone recently without the C-word coming up?
I’m not talking about Christmas; I’m talking about the pandemic.
We tried to ban it from conversation the other night while we sat outside, mulled wine in hands, the fire filling our hair with the deliciousness of wood smoke.
But we failed.
Like wood smoke, Covid permeates every conversation, every waking moment.
It’s invasive, it’s exhausting.
It’s almost overwhelming.
“When are the kids coming home for Christmas?” might seem like an innocuous enough question, but the answer relies on a negative Covid test being secured before they can catch a flight up from state-of-emergency London.
“How are you feeling?” turns into a dialogue about worry, or about headaches as after effects of the booster kick in.
Or there might be a fear that this tiny hint of a sore throat, utterly inconsequential in pre-Covid days, might be a symptom of the Omicron variant.
“How’s work?” inevitably turns into a discussion about diary cancellations, working from home again, or being overwhelmed because colleagues are sick or isolating.
And of course, everyone is tired of living under a cloud, tired of Covid restrictions, tired of the fear of catching and transmitting the virus.
Everyone has slightly differing views about how the pandemic could or should have been handled by those making the rules, and by what “limiting social contact” really means.
It’s easy for all of us to justify our own slight tweaks of the rules when to do so suits us.
It’s hard not to feel resentment towards those who step over the lines we have drawn for ourselves.
Despite my usual Pollyanna optimism, and the natural sparkle of the season, it all feels very much like it did back in March 2020.
There’s uncertainty about what might happen, and frustration that there appears to be another lockdown on the horizon, with no word of financial support for the industries who are going to be worst affected.
So – what should we do?
Self-preservation is key.
Do what feels right for you, being mindful of your responsibilities to your own physical and mental health, the health and happiness of those around you, and the responsibilities that we all have, to try and contain the spread of the virus to a rate that the NHS can handle.
I know this strain might turn out to be milder, but people are catching it and having to isolate, and that includes healthcare workers too.
They can’t look after us in hospitals, whether we’re admitted with Covid or something else, if they are at home.
And please, whatever you do, have a happy Christmas.
For me that will include eating too much cake, watching old movies (there are no masks in “Elf” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”), and getting lots of fresh air.
I’ll be switching off the news and stepping away from Facebook.
And trying to channel the happiness of the paper-plate angel who has stepped up for the 23rd year in a row, to smile down on us from the top of the tree.