There’s still plenty of ways to enjoy Christmas during Covid.
Sorry, Halloween lovers — Christmas will always reign supreme in my heart. Is it the feeling of coming in from a cold, dark winter’s night, putting on your pyjamas, and watching Love, Actually for the hundredth time? Maybe the jolt of excitement you feel whenever you drive past streets decked in Christmas lights? While Covid has taken the typical community aspects of the holiday from us this year — Christmas nights out, extended families gathered around the table on the 25th, hectic last-minute shopping trips — I believe that all is not lost. There are still so many ways to enjoy the season while staying safe and socially distant; ‘tis the season for staying in, after all.
This year, for the first time ever, I was able to convince my family to put our decorations up early — November 29th early. There’s just no better way to get into the festive spirit than to stress over your December exams under the dim lighting of a Christmas tree. Blasting that Christmas playlist, or having a classic festive flick playing in the background, while you get your space ready for the holidays — it’s as close to Christmas magic as we can get this year. Personally, I’m a fan of the overindulgent “Hallmark movie” style, i.e. covering every last surface in tinsel, garlands, or fairy lights. I also have strong feelings about the universal need to have a tree that literally sags under the weight of two decades’ worth of homemade decorations and baubles from various summer holidays (my family’s ‘Venetian Santa’ from 2006 is a highlight).
Of course, perhaps most importantly for me, there’s the music. Around this time of year, a lot of people can be put off by the overly repetitive nature of the festive tunes — sorry, but you can only hear Driving Home For Christmas so many times during an 8-hour retail shift before wanting to tear your own hair out. The good news is that there are so many fresh festive songs being released each year, which may just take a little more digging than usual to find. In Phoebe Bridgers’ recent E.P. If We Make It Through December, the singer brings the idea of a “blue Christmas” to a whole other level; Dolly Parton’s multiple festive albums are my not-so-guilty favourites this time of year. There’s Christmas music for everyone, if you’re willing to search around a little: the Punk Goes Christmas albums, Tyler the Creator’s singles for The Grinch (2018), Sam Fender’s new Winter Song.
Movies are also a central part of the holiday season for most of us. I have a very specific annual viewing routine: Elf on Christmas Eve night, The Polar Express, Love, Actually and Die Hard (I will defend its Christmas movie status to my death) within the “Christmas week” between the 18th and the 25th. Other family favourites are Christmas with the Coopers, Deck the Halls, Miracle on 34th Street. . . there are countless festive films to indulge in this season, and my favourite part is that everyone will have their own special picks. Did your family own a worn-out VHS of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas in your childhood? Does It’s a Wonderful Life remind you of spending winter afternoons at your grandparents’ house? Perhaps unlike any other holiday, Christmas has a way of making us all a little bit nostalgic, and putting on an old festive favourite is one of the best ways to do so.
And what about a little reading to get you in the spirit? There are, of course, the classics; think Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, or Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (yes, adults can read it, too). Personally, I’m a fan of the vaguely-festive reads: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Chronicles of Narnia, John Green’s Let It Snow. I’ve been reading Little Women each December since I was a pre-teen, and experiencing a 19th century Christmas Day with the March sisters never fails to get me into the festive spirit.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there’s no way we can let Covid ruin that for us. Of course, there’s still a couple of pandemic-friendly outdoor activities to get you into the spirit, whether that’s marvelling at the lights in George Square or taking a wintery walk through Kelvingrove. However you celebrate this holiday season, it’s important to give yourself, and those around you, a little extra bit of love. It’s been tough — but maybe a cup of hot chocolate and a couple more screenings of Home Alone can help us all through the last month of this exhausting year.