If the first lockdown wasn’t strange enough, it was definitely more so as I had a Christmas book to work on. Back in March, faced with the shutdown of schools, and life as we knew it, I had to conjure up all the Christmas spirit I could find and write a festive, uplifting book, ALFIE THE CHRISTMAS CAT.
Like many people lockdown hit me hard. I am a single mum, living with my son and my cat and without being able to see family or friends, I felt more isolated than I ever had done. My world, like everyone’s shrunk and I saw how tiny it was. Coupled with a son who really didn’t cope with a lack of routine and a cat who wondered why we had to be home so much, it was a testing time. There were days when I sobbed for no apparent reason. Others when I wondered if 2pm was too early to open the wine (answer not really lockdown rules, were very generous in this matter). There were days when I enthusiastically put on my gym kit to persuade my son that Joe Wicks PE was a good way to start the day, which he didn’t buy for a minute. In the end our attempts at home schooling consisted of spending hours on the Ipad - him, and eating crisps - me.
I was lucky, I know. I had a nice home to live in, and a gorgeous child, and a slightly offended cat, plenty to eat and we were healthy, but of course sometimes it is hard to count blessings. Especially in lockdown. So finding my Christmas spirt was even harder. I watched Christmas films, which made me sob like a baby, I listened to Christmas music, I stopped short of putting up a tree, I didn’t want to confuse my son, or my cat. I even dug out my Christmas jumper, which I wore for encouragement!
And within a few weeks of lockdown, although the sun shone and my son still refused to even entertain the idea of doing Joe Wicks’ PE, I somehow flipped a switch and realised that writing about Christmas - which is my favourite time of year - could maybe be a bit cathartic. And actually it was. I lost myself in a world of tinsel and trees, of Christmas pudding and brandy butter and it actually worked. In a strange way, writing about Christmas at the height of Covid was uplifting and helped me with my mental health. I didn’t use it as an excuse to drink myself silly or eat a tin of Quality Street, although I would have done had I had any, but I did begin to realise that we would have Christmas to look forward to. After all, there may be a global pandemic and things might have looked bleak - and still do - but Christmas is Christmas. That reliable time when no matter what, we try to put everything aside to enjoy ourselves. And this year we deserve it more than ever.
So, I edited the book in a heatwave, as if things could not get less Christmassy, and I kept thinking of all the good things that would happen to us once we got out of lockdown. I thought about how wonderful school is, how lovely it would be to see friends and family, how I would never take them for granted again (I probably will but the sentiment was there), and how lucky I was to be able to write a book I loved even though times were hard.
I am very proud of ALFIE THE CHRISTMAS CAT, I ended up loving writing it and also I owe it a debt of gratitude because I believe my Christmas book, along with my son and my cat got me through lockdown and although we are in lockdown 2 right now, I know we’ll get through this one too.
Roll on Christmas!
Being a child of the 70s (totally giving away my age), I have memories - nightmares- of the silver artificial Christmas tree that my father was keen on. When I got to a certain age I put my foot down and insisted on a real tree. I remember my father’s objection was our pets - both cats and dogs at the time. But I won. Ever since the first thing that means Christmas to me is the real tree. My son and I go to a local family who sell sustainable Christmas trees and I let him choose. It is an important part of our Christmas and so far my cat hasn’t tried to climb it once... to read more click HERE
Tagged in Christmas