The Augment Review

A Poor Attempt at Welcoming Change

by George White, Staff Writer

Posted January 19th, 2021
Snow covered trees and field
Photo credits to George White

Winter is usually a busy and hectic time of year. It is often the most frantic period for businesses, and schools and universities are often run off their feet with exams. I knew I wanted to write an article about this time of year but my plan for it changed so many times (sorry, editors!) and I think that reflects how unsettled this winter will be compared to previous ones.

Normally, I spend December rushing around a cafe serving coffee to disgruntled Christmas shoppers while trying to fit in seeing all my friends and family. Then, for the rest of winter, I am left catching up on everything I put off over the festive period. This year I am probably doing neither. At first, I was looking at this situation from a fatalistic point of view- that there was nothing I could do to change this and that I should direct my energy towards making the most of a relaxing, much more chilled out winter.

I am still clawing at keeping that mentality but in the U.K, the rules seem to be constantly changing. Christmas, for example, was pretty much cancelled leaving me a little setback. My plans had to change again- I was no longer able to see some of my family that I have spent every Christmas with up till now. I am not alone in this. It has been hard to see so many families who had to quickly rearrange their plans and work hard to stick to the rules. It left many people I know stranded in cities and unable to visit any family at all.

In the U.K., our Prime Minister ordered a hasty change to the restrictions over Christmas. He had initially released a set of rules to be put in place to slightly relax the constraints that allowed three households to mix over five days for various Christmas meetups. These rules were announced weeks ago, and people made plans accordingly. Since, he has backtracked and changed those rules almost completely. The new orders vary depending on the place in the U.K. where you live. Regardless, there are restrictions across the board. The execution of the latest announcement ran parallel to when Boris Johnson effectively cancelled the Eid celebrations back in May, mere hours before it was meant to begin.

Of course, the restrictions for a lockdown are understandable and everyone wants to see the end of the spread of Co-vid 19. However, to create such strict rules with little notice ignores the fact that people have already been preparing for Christmas, similar to the way people had prepared for Eid. There were stories from May of people who had already arrived at family houses for Eid before it had been cancelled. It is difficult to prepare for the rules when they seem to be able to change at any time. At this point, it just seems cruel to have dangled that five-day grace period, to then take it away just days before the event. I am confident that these rules will continue to adapt to the situation, as they should, but I find it difficult to prepare mentally for an unforeseeable future.

Snow covered arch over a gate
Photo credits to George White

No, this is meant to be a blog about welcoming change. My rant is over now, and it is time to focus on the good that is coming from this situation. I feel we should all try to focus on that. People are reaching out to those who they have lost contact with and it feels as though we are all putting in more effort to keep in touch and offer emotional support. The air feels palpable with a war-time spirit of ‘we’re all in this together.’

Since the announcement here in England, I have seen countless posts offering support. Whether it’s local numbers of helplines to ring if people are struggling, or just the individual offering their time if people want to reach out. It has made me proud of the people I have surrounded myself with and given me some faith that we will get past this.

It has led me to wonder what we can do to prepare for these up-coming tough months? A lot of the usual pressures have been taken off but what should we do with the time we do have? I, personally, am trying to view it as a blessing- to enjoy that quiet Christmas which otherwise has been out of reach. I am also trying to revitalise the energy I had in March/ April when everyone was taking up new hobbies. I have even been for a run in the cold January rain. I’m not sure jogging can be the whole solution though…

I have found that this year my winter will undoubtedly be different. There have been so many changes already. While there are aspects that I have missed, there have also been many parts that I have enjoyed that I wouldn’t have done without these restrictions. My Christmas was spent mainly on my laptop speaking to family members I never usually get to spend that day with. Normally, Christmas is an intimate affair with my immediate family and the days leading up to and following on from are spent visiting other members of the family. However, this year I spoke to nearly all of my family in one day. I still got to share it, to a degree, with people very close to me. It was a unique experience that I will cherish.

I’ve often found kindness and patience to be the answer to most problems. (Although, my inner feminist wonders if that is just how I have been conditioned to think, as a woman.) I think they are two things that everyone could benefit from especially at this time. It is impossible to know what is ever going through someone’s head, but it is undeniable that no-one is in the situation they thought they would be this time last year. So, kindness and patience are something I’m taking forward these next months.

The future is very much uncertain. While the new restrictions have been a blow to me, I am trying to see that I have to make the most of what I do have (even if it is different). Change encourages us to live in the moment. Or it reminds us that even if things aren’t quite as we want them to be, it won’t stay this way forever. I guess what I’m trying to say is, no matter what situation you’re in at the moment, it won’t be this way forever. We either make the most of the joy or we sit tight and wait for things to move on.

Everyone has collectively experienced some degree of restrictions from the pandemic and it has drawn a connection between everyone. From me writing, to you reading, we have made it through 2020. Who knows what 2021 will bring, but we will make it.