Over on her wonderful blog, Gretchen Rubin is exhorting us all to make this Christmas memorable and special, even if it’s different. She’ll be celebrating by listening to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, buying a white narcissus, and making a graham cracker house.
Here in London, we are just entering “Tier 3” lockdown restrictions as I write this, which means – among other things – no going to restaurants or pubs except for takeout. But even if we were still in Tier 2, my family wasn’t going to be doing much anyway this year. Nor is anyone else.
Taking a page from Gretchen, I thought I’d share five ways I plan to make this holiday season special. These aren’t terribly original, but I hope they serve as inspiration for your own holiday cheer:
1. Read David Sedaris. I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided that if my family of four needs to spend a lot of time indoors over the coming weeks, we’d all better do a lot of reading . My husband and I got our kids several books for Hanukkah this year, including (without consulting one another!) David Sedaris’s new collection of essays, The Best of Me – one for each child! I suspect all four of us will devour that particular book, if for no other reason that no one can send up family life quite like Sedaris. And, let’s face it, we all need a good laugh right now.
2. Watch Love, Actually. On her list, Gretchen recommends watching some holiday films like Miracle on 34th Street or Elf. Personally? I incline more towards Love, Actually, another staple of the Christmas season. I watch it every year, largely because it unites the downright funny – Hugh Grant’s famous dancing scene in #10 Downing Street – along with the deeply touching – the Emma Thompson character weeping as she listens to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. If you don’t know this film, do have a go, as we say ’round here. Delightful.
3. Do a jigsaw puzzle. When I was young, friends’ parents would phone up my mother and ask what I’d like for my birthday. She always told them to get me “a puzzle or a game.” I resented her for this, because I didn’t *want* a puzzle or a game. Fast forward 50 years and – in yet another sign that I’m turning into my mother – that’s exactly what I want. Jigsaw puzzles – especially large, 500- or 1,000- piece ones – are something everyone can participate in, but on their own time. You don’t have to be together to enjoy it, but, equally, you get to share in that collective sense of accomplishment as the pieces gradually come together.
4.Play a board game. When you’re ready to step away from your book or television set, I also highly recommend playing a board game. Board games are a great way to have “family time” that also entails focus. If you’re into strategy, I’m a big fan of Settlers of Catan – which can last for hours. This year, I got my daughter a new game called Dialect where you build a language. As my family spends half its time together arguing over who’s using which word correctly – (or not) – I felt this might be a good way to while away the days.
5. Drink your favorite tipple. “Tipple” means alcoholic drink and it’s another great British-ism. In the years since I’ve become a lightweight in the drinking department, I’ve become a real connoisseur of low-alcohol beers (which I define as beer with an APV under 4%, but most people classify as under 3%.) I’ve not been drinking too much this autumn as I’ve been busy with work. So I’ve amassed quite a collection in my “liquor cabinet” (which is really just a dimly lit cupboard in my laundry room.) On the principle that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, bottoms up!
Tell us some of your special plans for this unusual holiday season in the comments section…