A Christmas in Tiers

Christmas Eve, 1984. 'The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come' pays my 10-year-old self a visit and tells me to enjoy my childhood Christmases – because it all goes downhill once I hit adulthood.

“What? No more Eagle annuals?” I exclaim.
“Nope, they ceased publication in 1993,” replies the ghost.
“No more Star Wars toys?!!”
“Oh there’s lots of Star Wars toys... there’s prequel toys, sequel toys, Mandalorian toys… but you won’t get any of them!”
“What the hell’s the Mandalorian?” I frown in befuddlement.
“Spoilers!” smirks the ghost. "Just wait until you see the season two finale!"
“So they do make the prequels!” I grin, rubbing my sweaty little hands together with glee.
“Don’t get your hopes up, kid,” mumbles the ghost. “Anyway, I’m not here to talk about Star Wars. I’m here to show you a sneak peek of your Christmas yet to come!”
“Did Jim send you?” I smile.
“Jim?”
“I sent a letter to Jim’ll Fix…”
“Let’s get one thing straight, kid,” says the ghost, sternly. “Stop sending letters to Jim’ll Fix It. Okay? Just stop.”
“But…”
“Just stop!” he shrieks. “Seriously. You’ll thank me one day.”

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come then transports young David from his bedroom in 1984 to Southwold beach, 2020.
“Behold, the year 2020!” exclaims the ghost.
My 10-year-old self looks around and can’t contain his disappointment.
“Where are the flying cars? The spaceships? The robots? And who’s the scruffy looking man with the big dog?”
“That’s you, David,” replies the ghost. “That’s you, aged 46, and your dog, Luna!”
“Is he friendly?”
“She! You fool! It’s a female dog! Who calls a male dog Luna?” shrieks the ghost. “Do you see a penis?”
“Just the one,” I reply, looking at the ghost.

Young David then glances at this 46-year-old man who looks absolutely nothing like him.
“Don’t they have beard trimmers or nice clothes in 2020?” I ask. “Why do I look so funny?”
“You turned feral in 2014 I’m afraid.”
“This isn’t Christmas! Why am I walking the dog on a beach on Christmas Day? Where are my parents? My sister? Max?”
“Max?”
“My dog!”
“Blimey, that pooch died a long, long time ago, kid.”
“I’m afraid your future self won’t be seeing his family this year. No family, no presents, no Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show, no uncle showing up in his cartoon tie. Nope, you’re all alone in 2020, kid. Heck, Noel Edmonds doesn’t even show his face anymore.”
“I hate this! I hate this! Take me back home!” I scream, tapping my heels together.
“This ain’t the Wizard of Oz, kid!” sighs the ghost, before taking me back to 1984 and insisting I wash my hands for at least 20 seconds.

Christmas, 2020

Yes, my childhood self would be horrified – but this low-key Christmas was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my 46-year lifetime. Yet I wasn’t the only one who felt ostracised from his family like some exiled hermit in the desert. The guidelines were quite clear…

“This year, to save us from tiers, please don’t mix with other households.”

I think those of us with common sense adhered to these rules. Except those nut case conspiracy theorists who truly believe that we’re going through some kind of make-believe pandemic because nobody they know has contracted Covid-19. They can usually be found in groups of seven, exclaiming “F*** Boris!” and scoffing and mocking us “sheep” with their little Facebook memes.  

I love Christmas, I really do. Therefore it was heartbreaking for me to write it off this year. No family gathering, no presents, no falling asleep on the sofa after a hearty Christmas dinner. Okay, I did have a traditional Christmas dinner... but that was about as Christmassy as things got here.

So why did I write it off if I love it so much? The simple answer is that I love my parents more.

I even decided not to visit when the government still had this ridiculous “You can have five days of Christmas!” policy going on. In light of the soaring cases it just didn’t seem like a very wise move. So this “sheep” wouldn’t have listened to government advice had they insisted we went home for Christmas anyway.

Obviously if you were in an established “bubble” and your loved ones couldn’t cope on their own then seeing family over Christmas shouldn’t be judged or frowned upon by anyone.

I’m just disappointed in the tree-hugging flat-Earthers who went out of their way to hug as many family members from multiple households as they could – just because they’re mavericks who don’t play by the rules.

If rule-abiding citizens were immune and only the conspiracy nuts tested positive then I wouldn’t mind – but these nutters also go to supermarkets, doctors surgeries, and other public places where your mum, dad, or grandparents might be going. They could even be your postman or hairdresser.

Personally, the whole point of me wearing a mask and keeping my distance from everyone is not that I’m scared of catching a virus – I’m scared of passing it on to someone else. Heck, I worked in a post office throughout the first lockdown – and this was before we were told to wear a mask. We had people coming in, coughing and spluttering, and despite working behind glass 90% of the time I knew that, for as long as I worked there, I couldn’t possibly visit my parents – even if I’d had a car at the time.

I dread to think how many hospital beds are currently being taken up by Mr or Miss. Anti-Masker who’d spent months laughing at all those "idiots" wanting to protect others by wearing a mask.

These are pretty dark times, and there are days when I struggle immensely, but I'm also hopeful that in a few months, if we stick with this creepy way of life just a bit longer, things will get better.

Christmas 2020

How did you spend yours?

The Addams Family

Had 'the best Christmas ever' mixing with multiple households, exchanging presents, hugging elderly relatives, while exclaiming "F*** Boris!" and laughing at all the "sheep" following the rules. Their stubborn, selfish refusal to adhere to government advice goes before the well-being of their loved ones – and everyone else.


The Waltons

This middle-class family with a penchant for red sweaters "had a quiet one" – exchanged presents, played Buckaroo!, and enjoyed a nice meal together.


The Robinsons

This tech-savvy family hooked up with their loved ones online. It's not for everyone but at least it enabled them to spend some time with their nearest and dearest. Also comes with the added benefit of sticking someone on mute if they get a bit lairy.


The Singleton Who Wrote Off Christmas But Had a Nice Day Anyway

After lying in bed until 11am this loner took his dog for a walk and treated himself to a takeaway. With no presents to unwrap he drank wine, scoffed chocolate, and scrolled his Facebook news feed in the hope that his friends were having a better time.

This is exactly how I spent my Christmas, having dinner from the kitchen counter – except the guy in this picture has a much posher kitchen – and a different breed of dog.