How to survive Christmas: 2020 style

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By Orin Carlin, The Croft Editor

The Croft Magazine // Need help coping with the holiday season?

I know what you’re (blatantly not) thinking. You needn’t bother! Jilly Cooper already has us covered on this one. And of course, she does. If you need to know how to cope with unbearable in-laws, Jilly’s your girl. But no one, not even the Queen of the bonkbuster, could possibly have predicted the spiralling mass of devastation that this year’s Christmas is turning out to be.

Arguably, we should have seen it coming. Pessimists, (or rather, realists) feel free to bask in your own sordid pool of smugness. But for the numerically challenged amongst us, keeping up to date with the case numbers is no mean feat. (I hasten to add that it is also terribly depressing, for everyone alike.) Of course, it is entirely necessary to remain in the know - the severity of the situation is certainly not lost on me. However I must admit that the monumental U-turn has left me, and many other new recipients of Tier 4 status, gobsmacked. This seismic shit-fest that has been served, or rather force fed, to us makes for a bitter pill to swallow.

And so, I hereby offer my spoonful of sugar. Full disclosure: I adore Christmas. There’s nothing I love more than getting all dolled up for the sole purpose of slipping into a roast-potato-induced coma at 4pm. But my god, it's a tough time of year. There is pressure involved and many feel the need to execute ‘the perfect Christmas’. What is supposed to be a jovial time of year is, for many, understandably tinged with anxieties related to a wide variety of concerns. Money worries, family rifts and loneliness, you name it, Christmas exacerbates it. With the year we’ve had, I propose that any festive survival guide needs to be updated in accordance with 2020’s madness.

Epigram / Orin Carlin 

I’ll start with the incredibly important preface: I’m terribly glad and grateful that I am able to be with my family over the Christmas period. This year has been brutal for those with complicated family dynamics but this does not dispel the fact that many of us have been stuck under one roof for longer than we had anticipated. My kind, silly, loving family is great and we all get on brilliantly. For about 24 hours.* (*See also: 15 minutes.)

‘Me-time’ is a dreadful phrase, but the idea is paramount. If you don’t have the luxury of having your own bedroom, still try to prioritise spending time alone. The thought of going out in the miserable weather is the worst part, trust me. A daily walk is a great way to get some light exercise and clear your head. As a former meditation sceptic (clearly I was doing it all wrong), I really encourage you to give mindfulness exercises a go. You might hate it and feel completely stupid at first, but I’m now utterly devoted to my Apple Watch’s inbuilt Breathe app. Taking some time out from a stressful situation to take some deep breaths is absolutely the best thing you can do. And it provides immediate relief! As someone who is painfully impatient, this is ideal.

I'll have you know, it's supposed to be gaudy. Epigram / Orin Carlin

And for goodness’ sake, pick your battles. If someone is insisting on watching Mrs Brown’s Boys (it’s me, I’m a terrible person), complaining that they didn't get enough pigs-in-blankets, or perhaps (this year’s glorious new addition) deciding to drunkenly air their coronavirus conspiracy theories, absorb the nonsense! Have a sense of humour and remain assured, safely in the knowledge that you’re entirely right about everything, ever, and that anyone who dares to think otherwise is completely ridiculous.

Also, make a big effort to do things. Actual, tangible things. Being cooped up, I sometimes find that the days all merge into one. Before bed, if I find that I can't recall what I’ve done with my day, I know I need to do better tomorrow. It doesn’t really even matter what you do. Yes, 10 hours of dissertation work per day would render you incredibly smug come January, but be realistic. It’s far better to have cuddled your cats, painted your toenails and systematically highlighted the Radio Times than to have simply sat on your phone.

Epigram / Orin Carlin 

Above all else, take care. Talk to people whom you love. Probably steer yourself away from Twitter too. (The only exception being Rhodri Marsden’s annual #DuvetKnowItsChristmas tradition. It’s ace.)

And if it’s all too awful to bear, get stuck into Riders and discover the joys of a certain Rupert Campbell-Black. You can thank me later.

Featured Image: Epigram / Orin Carlin


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