Christmas and Covid: the globalization of loneliness

The narrative of 2020 really did resemble a novel. Between the pandemic, the american election and the furious marathon towards a vaccine, it was like powering through a tragic highschool reading. Now, with less than ten days left to this year, we still have to face the festivities and the virus that stole Christmas.

We have been working on the Santa Claus issue for a number of weeks. It is important to point out to all children in the country that we regard the travels of Santa Claus as essential travel for essential purpose. He is exempt from the need to self-quarantine for 14 days and should be able to come in and out of Irish airspace and homes without having to restrict his movements. I am assured that children should not stay up at night because he needs to socially distance. People need to keep at least 2 metres away at all stages to ensure they keep him and children safe.

Simon Coveney – Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs

This is what the Irish Parliament announced in the last days of November, together with the new Covid-19 restrictions for the country. A small act to give hope to children and a smile to the rest of us. This, indeed, is what Christmas in times of Covid feels like.

It’s been a whole year since the pandemic started, and its weight is getting heavier and heavier, especially during the festivities. Whether you normally like Christmas or not, this situation is making us long for the big family reunion and crave for a nosy aunt to inquire after the love life we don’t have. Even the terrible hallmark movies are largely missed, because Netflix can only do so much damage and we’re all striving for a movie theatre.

The Christmas situation in Italy

While Ireland got ready for the festivities reopening the shops and lowering restrictions, here in Italy we can’t say the same.

Natale 2020 a Milano: Cosa fare, dove andare ed eventi – Gayly Planet
The Swarovsky Christmas tree, Milano 2019, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

With more than 10k cases per day, the governmental restrictions are still to be confirmed, and, in the meantime, we’re all playing twister between red, orange and yellow. And if Christmas hasn’t been completely forgotten this year, still the pandoro doesn’t taste as good, and even the raisins in the panettone have our solidarity.

Even for who, like myself, is grateful for the extra time we have to get ready for the exam session, it doesn’t feel like the holidays at all: there’s no well-deserved relax if we spent the last two months sitting on our chairs. We’ve been resting for a whole year, and we ended up feeling restless.

Doing nothing really does wind you up.

Spain and Georgia, different developements for a similar result

3 things to do in Seville this Christmas - Friendly Rentals
The Giralda Tower, Seville

The situation is similar in our near cousin Spain, another country that received a heavy hit by the pandemic. They get a few more air hours since their curfew is at midnight, and it’s likely to be kindly postponed of a half an hour on New Year’s Eve. Family gatherings up to 10 people and no movements from one city to another. Again, the crave for social contact is loud and insistent.

If here Covid-19 came with immediate precautions and a hand-sanitizer craze, not the same can be said for Georgia. The pandemic there started slow and unnoticeable, a dozen cases a day, and then the numbers rapidly spiked up into a state of crisis. And then the lockdown started for them, too.

“When in Rome, stay home and use a mask”

It seems it doesn’t really matter where you are right now. Whether you’re in Italy, Spain, USA, Ireland, Georgia. We’re all on the same boat. The virus doesn’t play favourites.

And isn’t this what we asked for? With socials and apps, Amazon and Facebook. Uniform. Unionize. All the world following and spamming the same trends at the speed of light. Spreading, like a virus. We globalized to enrich ourselves and Mother Nature herself decided to act accordingly: we love technologies so much she made sure they became our only resource.

It doesn’t really matter where you are. That’s not the point and it hasn’t been for a while. We’re all connected, one side of the world to the other, and now that touch is forbidden and the faces are hidden, why not just surrender to the clarity of a screen?

Social media network icons in world map shape concept

The whole world, out of things to do to pass the time. Because there’s only a certain number of Christmas balls you can put on your tree, a certain number of lights you can hang from your balcony.

One side of the planet to the other, we’re all sitting on our chairs, in our rooms, staring at the wall, hoping, wishing, longing for the day this is going to end.

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