A definite ‘Dangle the carrot’ moment only this time, the carrot disappeared.

As I sat comfortably to listen to Boris’ latest announcement, I had to pause and rewind it to ensure I had fully understood.

The words “Tier 4 for London and parts of South East” scrolled across the bottom of the screen in dark black writing. At first, I thought I was being clever attempting to find some kind of loophole in the ‘parts’ but my boyfriend showed me the map of colours that clearly represented Tier 4 areas and, not to my surprise, we were definitely in it.

Which means, as of the 20th Christmas, (five days before Christmas), we will not be allowed to see anybody at all outside of our household. Basically, in a nutshell – Christmas is cancelled.

Sigh.. ‘Christmas is cancelled’ – argh.. the pain of those words… When has Christmas ever been cancelled?! Not to me it hasn’t in my thirty years…

I decided to call my sister to discuss our options. Whether, despite all these restrictions, we both question whether to still go ahead with the original plan?

She sympathetically shared my deep disappointment in this situation and then called her fiancé quickly to check but called back quickly to confirm with a heavy heart, that it’s probably best to not have me over. :-(

So basically, no mum, no sisters, no seeing any of my immediate family at all this year. Wow. To be told I cannot see them was a massive blow to me.

I recall one Christmas spent abroad without seeing my mum and sister but that’s different, that was my choice. And I was with my other sister in Hong Kong. I got to choose that option and how I got to spend my Christmas that year. But now, to have that free choice being taken away because of the Government trying to prevent the spread of this virus is definitely a strange feeling. A definite ‘Dangle the carrot’ moment only this time, the carrot as disappeared. It’s like it never existed.

I then turned to social media. The platform of Facebook, where everybody enjoys a good rant. I was curious to see if anyone was with me on this.

Yup, I was right. As soon as I tapped on the app via my phone and the newsfeed came up, without a doubt, a sea of upset, emotional rage filled my screen. And somehow, I really enjoyed reading these posts. Maybe because I totally sympathised everybody’s emotion here. It kind of felt a bit of unity here.

One post in particular, shared their passionate opinion on the entirety of the situation. I won’t repeat it word by word but it’s along the lines of this:

Basically, f*** off to the government. Nobody can tell me who or who I cannot have round on Christmas day. After an awful year, not being able to see my children and grandchildren is truly upsetting……

The post was much longer than this but my point was, I read this and despite a very emotional status, I totally understood and they had my deepest sympathies. ‘I hear ya’ – I said quietly to myself.

I then closed the FB app and just sat with my feelings. I needed to understand something that was brewing and going on inside. Journaling is such a great way to document and vent out your feelings. Not on phone on social.. but old style on paper, so I did just that. I wrote it down.

As I started to put pen to paper, I discovered something..

Even as a Yogi, or somebody that regularly practices gratitude, I did not know the true meaning of gratitude until today, or until this year for sure… The year 2020 has definitely thrown some curveballs my way and until today, before Boris made that announcement, I was totally under the assumption that he’d probably allow Christmas to still go ahead. Call it naivety or hopefulness, yes or maybe pure ignorance in the situation until it slaps me in the face with it.

We, as humans, do not like to be told what to do. Period. Especially the British!

Now that the simple, yet annually expected assumption of Christmas gatherings have been removed from our choices, that chimp part of our brain is reacting. That inner child inside, is unhappy. We aren’t getting what we want so we’re throwing out toys out the pram. All we want to do right at that moment is sulk and moan. (Which we totally can.)

The pure act of family gatherings, the travelling from one place to another over the Christmas break, the walks outside as a family, the smiles to strangers when we say ‘Merry Christmas’ when we take out the wrapping rubbish out, the crowded streets of cars as we welcome a constant flow of visitors. This is something, we expect every year.

Never would we have ever dreamed of it being taken away from us. A job yes, the economy changing, sadly yes, aviation industry.. yes, a haircut.. yes, going to a restaurant or simply having a coffee with a friend yes, (gosh, we’ve adapted so much)… but never Christmas, surely?!

As I sat with my thoughts, I thought to myself, Geez, imagine having no Christmas ever… Imagine, not being able to spend Christmas again with your family due to an illness or heaven forbid they get one…. My heart goes out to people that have lost a parent, a loved one, a sister who’ve already had that option taken away before they’ve even had their last Christmas with them. Or even those poor people who are suffering war and loss, won’t get to have their traditions this year. I can’t and would not want to imagine that at all. It makes me too upset to think about.

The act of festivities gatherings may be cancelled but our families and friends are not cancelled. Love is not cancelled. My family are still here. I just can’t physically see them over the next few weeks. I can always zoom them. I can hear their voices, we can play games, we can smile together. We can even eat together virtually!

At least with hope, of the virus leaving the world for good, we can be certain that this situation won’t last forever. Remember the power of impermanence. Nothing lasts forever.

As I sat with myself for a few more minutes, I thought about the different types of joy and happiness my family gives me. Security, unconditional love, giggles, childhood memories… and then I take a deep breath and remind myself that I am truly grateful that they are still here. That this isn’t the last Christmas I get to spend with them. I can just pick up the phone and call them if I really miss them.

Let’s all take a deep breath and do just that.

Practise gratitude and focus on what we have in front of us.

Work with what we have at our disposal right now.

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