When the Christmas Craze Passes You By
Tis the time of the year, but I’ll be spending it in alone in my apartment. And I’m perfectly fine with that.
’Tis the time for togetherness. Right?
With each day passing, your excitement grows. You’ve exchanged wish lists with your sisters ahead of time. To make sure you get their, and your nephew’s presents just right.
You’ve searched every corner of the internet and just pressed “buy” on the last few items that will complete your gift shopping quest. The travel plan to safely reach the family home in time is finalized. Now all that is left, is to count down the days, until Christmas is here. To celebrate togetherness while unwrapping each other’s carefully selected gifts, drinking Glühwein, devouring the buffet as if there is no tomorrow, bringing up old stories and creating new memories.
It’s the first time you’re seeing your family again in 2020. After all that’s been going on, this break from life was much needed and you couldn’t be happier.
Christmas is often the one main time of the year where everyone keeps their calendars blocked and reserved for family time only. Not being able to do this hurts. If you are able to visit the family home, I hope you took the necessary precautions and that you’ll have an amazing time.
Many of us won’t be seeing our families during these holidays, me included. Even though my family is insensitive to the (pre-) Christmas craze, I am not visiting them right now. I could’ve taken a test, rented a car, driven across the German-Dutch border, booked an apartment or a hotel where I’d have quarantined for ten days, to then finally visit my family. And of course quarantine once more upon my return to Germany. I do not want to take any risks, so I’d rather be overly cautious, call it paranoid if you want, and stay put.
Germany is currently in lockdown until at least the 10th of January 2021. We are allowed to leave our homes, but with all public life closed or forbidden, the usual Christmassy-feel just isn’t there.
A minimal and solitary Christmas
Alone in my flat on Christmas evening I gave in to some mindless scrolling and swiping. My Instagram stories showed nothing but overloaded Christmas trees, family dinners, and soon-to-be-unwrapped presents. Tons of them. It reminded me of earlier Christmas celebrations at a family where I no longer show up and that no longer feels like mine.
“I don’t need to be surrounded by a group of people. I can prepare a great meal, just for me, regardless of the date or day”, I thought.
My kitchen window overlooks the closed-off communal backyard and faces the neigboring building. Mostly kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms are on this side. At night, when it’s dark and the neigbors turn their lights on, I get a literal window into strangers’ daily lives. I never feel like I am not alone. And as time has gone by, I’ve gotten a rough idea of the size of their families, and at what times they are at home. It feels nice to be surrounded by others, but I don’t necessarily need people around in close physical proximity.
Cooking dinner on Christmas evening, I saw that almost all of the lights in the opposite building were switched off. It was a strange sight. Maybe it felt like that due to the swiping through Instagram stories, and comparing my situation to that of people on the internet.
When running errands at daytime yesterday, the shops and restaurants were all closed early. The streets were empty. All of this struck me as odd also. Obviously it was due to the public holidays.
Honestly, the whole event could’ve passed me by. I would barely have noticed.
Defying the norm
The norm taught me to take part in the Christmas craze. Buy another Christmas sweater to wear one day, and then never again. Spend lavishly on sparkly decorations. Meet up with your friends, and don’t forget to show off how much fun you’re having together online.
The only thing I bought was a mini-tree from the local euroshop. I wrapped some fairy lights around it. And enjoyed the sight with some wine. To me, this will suffice.
After people flocked home for the holidays, the city looks and feels deserted. No rushing on the streets or in the shops. I’ll probably be able to walk through the normally busiest areas of the city, without needing to jump left and right to avoid others and maintain the 1,5m distance. No societal expectations to stay on the 9–5 or whatever grind.
And as others celebrate in togetherness, I am secretly enjoying being alone.