Christmas 2020

In a year where everything felt either too serious or too trivial to write about, I now realise we’ve entered a whole new bushfire-cum-hail season, almost a year since I last wrote complaining about hair smelling of ash and windscreens smashed by boulders of ice.

There’s still nothing worth saying, other than that we’re so eternally grateful that Canberra has been effectively Covid free for months, and all remaining precautions seem amusingly ineffective when counterbalanced by the affectionate teacher who brings the boy outside to me at pickup time as per rules preventing parents entering the school only to slobber him and his little sister with goodbye kisses, or the enthusiastic swimming instructor who sprays all the pool toys with disinfectant at the start of the lesson as per company orders only to make every child high five the same doll at the end.

The only other thing to say is that it’s been so sad for the grandparents to have missed a whole year, and probably still yet longer, of the kids growing up, especially the younger one who wasn’t walking or talking last Christmas but is now tottering the length of a beach with the promise of an ice cream and singing ‘I’d Do Anything’ from Oliver. The idea that international borders between democratic countries could ever restrict our movements, or that we might even restrict them voluntarily, was until this year something as unfathomable as bothering to wash the kids’ hands before eating.

So this Christmas, there will be no uncles dressing up as Santa-in-shorts and no granddads manning the barbecue while DD quietly swaps the tongs for a beer. No grandmas and aunties playing inexhaustibly with the kids while I quietly escape citing urgent domestic duties. It will be a Christmas of the boy getting bored of splashing in the paddling pool by the second week, and the toddler defying my grand plan of using this quiet summer to toilet train her, instead running around naked from the waist down anointing the carpet with inextinguishable traces of organic matter.

It will be a long summer. But our hearts will be with our friends and family batting away Covid in the depths of winter. When finally the borders are fully open once more, there will be slobbery kisses and high fives by the truckload and the virus can go take a hike.

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