Avoiding the C-word* (*not Christmas).

Covid permeated our conversation as wood smoke permeated our hair

Have you tried to have a conversation 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.

Questions all relate back to Covid

“When are the kids coming home for Christmas?” might seem like an innocuous enough question, but the answer relies on a negative test 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.

Tired, tired, tired…

And of course, everyone is tired of living under a cloud, tired of restrictions, tired of the fear of catching and transmitting. 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 slight tweaks of the rules when it suits us. It’s hard not to resent 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.

Channeling the joy of our 23-year-old paper plate angel

23 years old this Christmas. Still smiling, still dazzling.

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.

The dog’s log basket

Daughter # 2 popped round with her ever-growing puppy. There’s nothing unusual about that, but this was Murphy’s first visit since the Christmas tree went up. You’ve seen all those videos of pets wrecking Christmas trees? Murphy was a dream. Of course, he was intrigued by this bright, shiny new thing that smelled of the woods but flashed bright with lights and dangly things, but with just a word from the boss (not me, I hasten to add) he knew to leave it alone.

No. Far more exciting to young Mr Murphy was the basket of logs by the fire. The word ‘glee’ just doesn’t come close to describing the look on his gorgeous doggy face when he discovered it.

“A whole basket of sticks? All for me? It must be Christmas!”

The hoover will be working full-time. And we’re on high alert for splinters.

Boosted by the RAF

Boosted by the RAF

Finally, I am boosted. Thanks to the lovely RAF drone-pilot Sam (from somewhere in middle-England) I am up to date. Sam and I got talking while we waited for a nurse to ask the vital questions.

Was I over 18? My kids are over 18. Was I pregnant? That ship has sailed.

Sam’s been vaccinating full-time since February, first in London, then Glasgow, now Inverness. Don’t we have a local RAF I asked? Yes, Sam replied. They’re injecting in London.

I’m sure there’s a logic, but why look for logic? I’m just glad to have the shot in my arm.

Whenever you read this, I hope you have, are having or had a wonderful, wonderful Christmas, and get to spend meaningful time with people you love and who love you, this special time of year.

Get in touch: nicky@nickymarr.co.uk