The obvious horror and hidden wonders of 2020
Finally! My website is up and working, (for someone rather happily stuck in the analogue Days Of Olde, this has been quite the challenge) and it's looking rather autumnal too! This is usually my favourite time of year; the colours, the change in the sky, those rare but beautiful moments of sunshine. There is something about the smell of bonfires, digging out oversized jumpers and bobble hats, a craving for home-made soups and jacket potatoes, watching Boris inexplicably roll around in piles of crispy leaves and always, the thought of Christmas inching tantalisingly closer. Tra-la-la-la-larrrr la-lar-lar-larrrrrr.
But this year? Not so much.
What a truly dreadful year this has been. I am sure that we have all been affected in some way by the pandemic, and here in the middle of a second lock-down, any plans for a family Christmas remain uncertain. My heart breaks for those of us who have lost loved ones, had to give birth alone or been unable to visit elderly relatives. On a personal note, we have had to re-arrange our own wedding three times this year (so far...but let's not jinx it.) Our dreamy Christmas Day humanist ceremony in a snowy forest in Norway turned into a lavish 'do' in a big Scottish pile on a Loch near Ben Nevis, before we finally accepted that a teensy family 'do' at the local registry office is as good as we are going to get.
I sound all stoic, don't I? It's a total sham. I have taken the whole thing rather badly to be honest. I have cried and sulked and pulled a full-on Verruca Salt every other day. Don't I deserve a special day? For my first and only wedding? It's not fair! The poor Pirate has had to cope with my meltdowns and tantrums for the last six months, which is, I think, great practice for our future life together.
But, even whilst I have been slowly turning into an aging Bridezilla, this pandemic has given us some positives. (No, it really has!)
For many of us, it has given us something we are all too often short of; time. I don't just mean that magical Sunday when the clocks went back and we managed to sneak another blissful, downy-duvet hour guilt-free. I mean having the time to cook a proper dinner together, to play a board game without one eye on the clock, to stay up really late drinking gin and watching each other's favourite film. If, like me, you have been working from home, that time spent commuting seems to have miraculously transformed into actual free hours. Time to take up new hobbies, read those books you keep meaning to read, try that curry with a gazillion ingredients you have never heard of, take the longer path when walking the dog.
In my little community of boat dwellers, the virus has brought us all much closer together. We are being kinder to one another, more thoughtful and more patient. I don't think we are unusual. Most people I speak to say the same; that their community has come together with an almost war-time spirit, looking out for one another in a million tiny ways.
I love this. I love that whilst we are all worrying about our own health, our own loved ones, our own finances, our own futures, we are still taking the time to check on our neighbours. What a truly beautiful thing humanity can be in the face of adversity!
So the symptoms of Covid-19 may well be a temperature, loss of smell and taste, irritating cough but a side-effect seems to be love, empathy and compassion.
As Vex King writes in his wonderful little book 'Good Vibes, Good Life' which I happily stumbled upon in a charity shop pre-lockdown number one, 'Sometimes you have to unplug yourself from the rest of the world for a moment so you can reset yourself.'
I truly believe that we have been given the opportunity to do exactly this. Re-set. Gain a sense of perspective about what truly matters and what really doesn't. To connect with nature. To spend quality time with those we love. To help others.
So for all of you who have had to cancel or postpone your big day, I get it. I truly do. But let's take a moment to look, right now, at the person we are marrying. How lucky are we to have found someone we adore who adores us right back? Someone we want to share every experience with? Someone who feels like home? We may have to wait a bit. It might not be the wedding of our dreams. But really, does any of that truly matter? We are the lucky ones. Take a deep breath and remember that, however difficult it might be. It really isn't about the dress, the flowers, the cake. It is about celebrating the love we have been lucky enough to find and that is something we can all do every day. Write him a note. Bake her a cake. Run him a bath. Massage her stinky feet. Find and show the love in the little things because it is the little things that make a marriage and this delay is the best practice we could have. Let's celebrate!