Replace that pumpkin with a tree because Christmas starts early

Fiona Heavey

Reporter:

Fiona Heavey

Replace that pumpkin with a tree because Christmas starts early

Just accept it - Christmas 2020 begins on Sunday, November 1

As I hung up the skeletons, taped the 'Keep Out Zombie Zone' sign to the front door, replaced the fresh flowers with dead ones and arranged the ghosts and ghouls around the house this week, I couldn't help but feel this Halloween is a little bit ironic - a tad too real for my liking.
After cancelling our third prospect of a family trip away this year, we decided to go all out on Halloween decorations and have decked the house out in a spooky, scary and blood splatter theme.
The kids love it, the dog hates it and I quite like that cobwebs form part of this year’s ensemble.
But outside our tight family of four there is no one to scare or impress, the zombie tape that reads “Keep Out” is doing a fine job of repelling people from the door - I hope our postman appreciates the efforts we have through to lavishly decorate something that is for his eyes only!
The caged maniac that screams “Get Me Out Of Here” as you pass by the hallway echoes my own sentiments daily.
Level 5 feels a little like a horror movie even if you break free for an hour you must return and you also have to sit through regular safety announcements, threats against the safety of your family, there are voluntary injections (Flu jab) and you can have contact with the outside world but you must not touch them.
Like any good horror movie the theme is not the guts and gore but suspense. As a county and a nation we have never felt so anxious, so on the edge, so tense. What will happen next, can we expect another NPHET leak, are we heading for Level 5.75, are the ICU beds at capacity, will they close the schools?

The kids are off school this week for mid-term and as parents and carers scramble for daily activities and entertainment within 5km that doesn’t involve the usual visits to family and friends, indoor play areas, swimming pools, cinema etc, we live with the dread that schools could be closed if Covid figures escalate.
I fully understand the concern of teachers and parents over schools remaining open, but feel children need school for the routine, education and most importantly the only social interaction outside of family.
With parents stressed out with working from home, or indeed not working and money concerns, our children deserve a few hours away in a controlled environment to learn, play and socialise. I think our local schools, creches and playschools are doing a terrific job at keeping students and teachers safe and allowing children to have at least one part of their lives kept 'normal.'

Panic Christmas Shopping

No I have not started my Christmas shopping.
No I have not made a list, the children have not written to the North Pole and I have no idea what size turkey I am ordering.
In our house all of our birthdays fall in September and October - it is crazy, busy and expensive (my car insurance is also due every year in October) time of year and it usually means I can’t stand to hear the word Christmas until the end of November.
But this year, although I am under prepared, I fully accept that Christmas 2020 begins on November 1.
Don't tut, roll your eyes or scream - we deserve a prolonged season of goodwill, we need hope, excitement, colour and magic.
This year there will be no annual trip to Dublin/Galway to see the lights, there will be no visit to sit on Santa’s knee, no office Christmas party, no ‘twelve pubs’ and no large get-togethers for family and friends.
I already know that I am going to be upset not seeing friends ‘home’ for Christmas. I imagine our airports will not experience the usual scenes of joy as families are reunited on Christmas Eve.
At the moment we can only hope that we will be able to have parents and grandparents around the table at Christmas, that we will be able to visit our friends to share a cup of tea or a hot toddy in their home over the 12 nights.
Christmas is not cancelled, the spirit of Christmas should be magnified this year.
If they could stop fighting during WWI to celebrate Christmas Day, then I think we will be able to celebrate it in style in the warmth of our homes.
There may be less presents, but we may in fact be more present.
The streets of Carrick-on-Shannon were chock-a-block last week before Thursday's restrictions came into force. I am not just talking about the road works on Main Street (although that didn't help), but people were out and about getting hair and beauty done, stocking up on 'essentials' and panic buying.
One shop assistant was nearly in tears on Wednesday telling me it was like “Christmas Eve, but with half the staff.” Anything that looked remotely Christmassy was picked up, toys were flying off the shelves, perfume sets, socks, wooly hats, candles were all bought in a flurry. I would have joined in but I was still buying last minute birthday gifts!
I don't want to sound like a hallmark Christmas movie but I'm pretty sure your loved ones don't want those socks you bought in haste, do your children even like Playdoh? Isn't your cousin asthmatic and unable to enjoy a nice scented candle?!
Christmas is about family and friends, about wishing them good health, about celebrating the past year, (well surviving 2020) and looking to the future.
Santa of course will bring toys (he does have magic on his side) but with less ‘traditions’ and activities to fit in this season we might actually slow down to play with our children and to listen to the stories of our elders. Let's be thankful for everything we have instead of focussing on what we don’t.

Oíche Shamhna shona duit!