Earlier this year we remember thinking how awful things were for people in Wuhan.

The draconian measures imposed in China to suppress the virus shocked us. Then it came to Italy… and the UK… and everywhere else.  

2020 is a year where we postponed and cancelled events and sat at home – a lot.

There was nowhere to go.

And if we did go out there was always a worry that the virus was out there to get us.

Other people were dangerous to be around, and crowds  – even just a few people – to be avoided. 

Work from home, live your life on Zoom, educate your children at home, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ as you wash your hands.

But no choirs… no partner dancing… no team sports.

stormy winter skies this year

And now we are all living a half-life wondering what is open… what is closed…

What are we allowed to do and what not? 

As Covid-19 went ‘viral’ people in every country across the world learned what it is to die in, and live through a pandemic.

This year is as bad as any of us could ever imagine.

We are locked up again”

” It’s a bit alien..”

“I miss the mundane things”

When you actually think about it… it’s like you are watching a movie”

It doesn’t seem real…it’s not real life. If you were watching it on TV you would think –  wouldn’t that be horrendous! 

Even though we stay at home there is an anxiety that we all share, that is to stay safe. Everyone gets anxious.

“Life has been very challenging, it’s been up and down.”

“I miss those face- to-face relationships”

I’d like to meet up with people and their first comment not to be: Are you OK?

The imposed restrictions are designed to keep us all safe, keep us at home, away from people – away from friends and family.

And still, the virus just won’t go away.

We pin our hopes on the vaccine and the hope that we can return to life as it was, or at least a life that is more relaxed and sociable and less anxious.

But nothing is certain.

landscape of sea and mountain

The fallout of this could lead to widespread mental health problems.  

We are a society suffering not just from trauma but also poverty, fear and isolation.

Given all the exciting new technology that has emerged in this 4th Industrial Revolution we think we are invincible and powerful and more and more in control of our world.

For sure, the combination of science and tech have enabled us to collect data, co-ordinate the pandemic response and fight back.

But ultimately, this virus has shown us just how weak, how vulnerable and exposed we really are. 

lake in winter this year

Attendance at funerals limited to only a handful of people makes our bereavement more of a loss; so much more sad.

Our loved ones did not get the send-off they deserved.

Heart-breaking stories of people with Covid being picked up by ambulances – and never seen alive by family members again.

That is a devastating loss.

Right now, the Government rules for who we can bubble with over Christmas period mean we may have to make some difficult decisions.

Who do we leave in, who do we leave out? 

Which family member needs to be with us more than others? 

For sure, there will be no parties, no big social events, no festive people randomly dropping by – and no trips to Santa.

If you have a terminal illness, do you have everyone over – because it might be your last Christmas?

Or, do you keep everyone out  – because it might be your last Christmas?

Residential streets are lit up like Las Vegas.

Our lives have been so drab, and dull and boring it seems that people crave that boost of festive colour – and glitz.

We desperately need an injection of joy and frivolity. The kitsch of sparkle and glitter, shiny baubles and decorations will make us feel happy – or happier.

We have had to keep the world out and buckle down, but now it is Christmas we can create an indoor world that is ephemeral, playful whimsical.

It’s about more than just some lights, baubles, tinsel and a tree. This is about re-discovering and nurturing your inner child- and being kind to yourself. 

And so transforming our homes into a brighter, more colourful, animated and alternative space helps us to forget everything that is going on – outside.

We need this!

Then…we will see the days get longer until we reach the solstice in June.

In 2021 the cycle, the seasonal ebb and flow, begins again – like it does every year. 

From this darkest point things can only get better.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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