Link columnist Beth Ritchie had an unwanted festive visitor
My first January column is coming to you a little late this year, as my kids and I joined the one in 15 other people in the UK who had covid during the Christmas period. My eldest got a positive lateral flow two days before Christmas Eve, and a PCR for my youngest and me the following day confirmed that we were all in the “Covid Club.”
And although we’re well out of the isolation period (which ended at New year) and safely out the other side, I’m still feeling pretty wiped.
But honestly, although if you’d asked me at the time I’d have said it was awful, having covid over Christmas wasn’t too bad, apart from the symptoms (which completely took me out for a few days).
Me and my kids don’t have a great track record for Christmas of late. Our Christmas last year was scuppered by the Tier 4 announcement, and I’m not sure I had entirely believed that the same thing wouldn’t happen again. Actually catching the pandemic wasn’t on the radar though, although I suppose it should have been given the current state of affairs.
But other than the awful symptoms (and I had every single one on the Test and Trace’s extensive list), missing Christmas might have been, if not a blessing, certainly a lesson learned which I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I hadn’t expected much from Christmas this year, it being the first after losing my dad. Not that I saw him at Christmas, it’s just the time of year that those we have lost are often at the forefront of our minds. I was dreading it to tell the truth, not wanting to have to pretend to be having a good time while still feeling the aching hole and constant stomach punches that grief brings.
So not only was I not physically able to do Christmas, both from having to isolate and feeling so rough (did I mention I had all the symptoms?), emotionally I wasn’t there for it either. And having to see others' Christmases on social media, and wade through the happy festivities on TV and online, was painful to the extreme. Reminding me yet again of how lucky I truly am.
Even this year, I was lucky enough to have some friends in the same boat who I could moan with over ugly crying FacetTime, and a feeling of “we’re all in this together” solidarity. And I am blessed with generally good health, which meant I felt confident that I would come safely out the other side of covid (despite the hideous symptoms). My kids, the absolute legends that they are, suffered a bit of a cold and cough, but didn’t for one second complain or make me feel mum guilt about their rubbish Christmas. These were the things that got me through the darkest moments.
All this blessing counting was a fitting tribute to my dad, who approached life with a constant consideration of how lucky he was compared to others, even at the end when he was in so much pain.
In the past I’ve been guilty of simply making additional charity payments at Christmas, without really considering how absolutely hideous the Christmas period is for so many people who are alone, poorly, or simply feel unable to cope with it. But now, having experienced a hint of it with my own dark Christmas, I’ve got a feeling that next year, wherever I am, those people won’t be far from my thoughts.
I hope the other one in 15 people who also had a covid Crimbo are now safely out the other side, and to those that were unable to enjoy Christmas for whatever reason, well done for getting through it, you can now brush that off for another year.
I wish you all a very happy new year, be well in 2022!