10 reasons to be cheerful as we head towards a semi-locked down Christmas

Even with the relaxing of the rules for a few days over Christmas, things won't be the same — but there's no reason to despair.

The ability to get outdoors, to weed the garden, feed the chickens or set off on a 10-mile sprint, is what got most of us through the first lockdown. Fresh air, open space and goodwill will be the saving grace of Christmas, too, albeit with less clement weather and shorter days. Not for decades have we been so grateful to explore and appreciate the countryside on our doorstep.

As households grapple the conundrums of how not to offend relatives and with whom to ‘bubble’, here are 10 reasons to be cheerful during the most restrictive Christmas since wartime.

Walking

The walk (or drive) has become the new holiday, but costs nothing: it has refreshed familiar surroundings, improved fitness, rekindled map-reading and reawakened a yearning to explore. Dogs are thrilled.

Neighbours

The combination of working from home and the natural desire for human contact has shone a light on the people under our noses. It’s brought out the best in them, assuaged loneliness and compensated for the separation from far-flung friends and family.

Holly

Berries are abundant and, now there is very little you can’t learn online, creating Christmas decorations will be extra satisfying.

Mulled wine

There are plenty of excuses for a wee tipple now that socialising has been mostly forced outside.

Outings

Many restrictions are in place and look likely to well into 2021, but much of Britain will allow some limited gatherings out and about. Churches have re-opened; galleries and theatres are available to early birds, as are racecourses and sports pitches. Things won’t be the same as normal, but it’ll all be better than nothing.

Carol singing

Happily, it’s permitted outside, politicians perhaps harkening to potential mass dissent if they had, Scrooge-like, banned it. Good news for those stuck indoors: King’s College Cambridge is recording the annual concert early and it’ll still be magical.

Smaller turkeys

Reduced gatherings should renew interest in eating native breeds, reared free range — it’s the best way to preserve them. Local food producers have had a good year, relatively speaking, a trend we hope continues.

Fewer hangovers

No office parties or New Year shenanigans could be a game-changer. Forget the dismal crash-diet — there’s not much call for the little black dress.

The tables set at the Holborn Dining Rooms for a Country Life Christmas Party in the 1930s. (No, it’s not quite so grand these days…) ©Country Life

Deliveries

Never has the delivery driver, postman and the rubbish collector been so appreciated. Please tip generously.

Respect for elders

Some, incarcerated in care, have had a terrible year, but they’re not forgotten. Cards and calls, and whatever visits and contact is allowed, will be crucial. They must come first this Christmas.