ONE weekend during lockdown, housework and homeschooling up to date, I did think to myself – I could write my Christmas cards today.

It was around the time that nothing was changing very quickly, when weeks seemed to last for months and an end to shutdown was most definitely not in sight.

Faint bells of alarm began to sound – could we be in this state until the end of the year? What would that mean for the festive season? What exactly would a coronavirus Christmas look like?

I did not, in the end, write the cards but by the summer ‘holidays’, it was already apparent that nothing would happen like it was supposed to in 2020. Events and concerts had been rescheduled; in our own family, trips and treats to mark twenty-firsts and fiftieths and exam results successes have been put on hold; even, good grief, Strictly Come Dancing has had to change.

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This week, an appalled friend told me she had just spotted selection boxes for sale in Asda.

“Too soon!” she yelped. “M&S is at it too – just seen Christmassy snacks on the shelves beside all the Halloween stuff. Too soon!”

Normally, I would agree. I object to seeing marshmallow snowmen on the shelves in September when there is still at least a chance of one final blast of summer sunshine.

The annual cry of ‘it’s-not-even-Halloween-yet’ is a household ritual when one or other of us spots a festive display rearing its tinsel-clad head behind the fruit and veg, and do not get me started on the neighbours who think putting up a Christmas tree in November is an acceptable thing to do.

But this year? Things are different. The C-word is not Christmas any more. Coronavirus continues to exist around us and with the number of cases rising again and local lockdowns becoming increasingly prevalent and necessary, who knows what the next few months will bring?

The 16-year-old suggested, only half-jokingly, that maybe we should have our family Christmas dinner early, squeezed up against Halloween and Bonfire Night, just in case it does not happen at all.

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Like most people, missing family and friends was the hardest part of the last few months for us. It really would be hard to do it all again at a time of year which usually brings us together.

So, pass the mince pies, it’s time to get the sprouts on.

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