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Grandparents and coronavirus at Christmas

 grandparents and coronavirus at christmas

Updated: 14/10/2020

Following on from the alarming rise in Covid cases, and the subsequent new three-tier local restrictions to try and control the virus, our recent survey results reveal a worrying outlook for the nation's grandparents for Christmas. With some areas restricting households from mixing, plus the rule of six, means that many people are facing spending the day alone - something that is causing some gransnetters great concern. 


  • According to the results 31% of grandparents do not support the government’s rule of six. 
  • Almost half (49%) say that the new rules mean they would not be able to see their grandchildren on Christmas. 
  • And 53% say the rule means they would be spending Christmas alone. 

"We have seen on the forums, the immense toll lockdown has had on grandparents and their families and it’s heartbreaking to see that this may continue. So many of our users have been sticking very closely to the rules, shielding when necessary and missing major milestones and special occasions in their grandchildren’s lives. To have to deal with a Christmas on their own as well, is a very cruel blow.

Christmas can be an incredibly lonely time for older people, and with almost half of them now resigned to not being able to see their grandchildren on Christmas Day, it’s looking very bleak indeed.  Every year, we host a ‘virtual Christmas party’ on Gransnet for those who do not have family around them. And this year it looks like there’ll be an even greater demand for virtual mince pies and cheesy elf jokes."
  Lara Crisp, Editor of Gransnet 


As we get closer to Christmas, many families are wondering what this year’s celebrations will be like. If the localised tier alert system does not work, and if the current rule of six remains in place, it means that large family gatherings on Christmas Day are off the cards. Here's what gransnetters have to say on this: 

"My friend phoned me in tears because it looks like she could be alone at Christmas this year. If the rule of six is still in force she won’t be able to visit relatives. I can’t invite her for the same reason."

"Everybody seems to be talking about Christmas and ordering food. How do they know if they're going to be together? Is it just me being negative? Should I assume we’re going to be able to see the grandchildren soon?"

"Just off the phone with my daughter. We have decided to put Christmas to one side this year as both boys are out and about and DD and we agree that the risk isn’t worth taking if the virus is rampant at Christmas."

"I feel it's impossible trying to plan for next week, let alone Christmas! Things change so rapidly. I'm in Dorset and my eldest daughter and grandchildren are in Surrey. Normally they are down here at Christmas. This year, who knows? There could be local lockdown and travel restrictions or it may have miraculously improved. For me I'm happy to tell myself to plan for worst case scenario and anything else is a bonus."


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What are the latest rules?

The government has this week announed a new three tier alert system. You can find out more on the government website or by reading this page on how the new restrictions affect you and your area. The current rule of six means that any social gatherings (indoors or outdoors) of more than six people are against the law. The government website goes on to say that you should: 

  • meet in groups of 6 or less
  • follow social distancing rules
  • limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
  • meet people outdoors where practical: meeting people outdoors is safer than meeting people indoors because fresh air provides better ventilation


What does this mean for grandparents at Christmas? 

Will grandparents be able to hug their grandchildren? While many grandparents were looking forward to spending time with their families on Christmas Day, it's looking likely that a 'normal' Christmas is almost certainly off the cards. In fact, according to our latest research almost half of grandparents are resigned to spending the day on their own.

For some, it is a responsibility they are willing to bear: "If it means a granny is alone then so be it, we have to do our bit.”

Whilst others feel less happy about it: 

“This just makes me sad. I usually spend Christmas with my son and family in France. But who knows this year whether I’ll be able to fly over there! So I’m trying not to think about it. As might be spending it on my own. Sorry to be a party pooper!”


On your own for Christmas?

It's clear many people, especially grandparents, will be on their own over Christmas. And while nothing will make up for not being able to cuddle your precious grandkids, there are some things you can do to keep positive. 

1) Plan ahead. Get the gifts bought early so you have plenty of time for posting or getting things delivered. There are some great tips for Christmas gift ideas on this thread.

2) Get your home 'winter lockdown ready' - puzzles, wine, new throws, yarn - gransnetters have plenty of ideas on how to prepare for a second wave.

3) Schedule a video call on Christmas morning so you can see the grandkids open their presents. Nothing beats seeing their excited little faces

4) Join the Gransnet Virtual Christmas Party. We'll be hosting our annual online Christmas gathering - full of virtual mince pies, terrible elf puns, and cheesy tunes. Pop in, say hi - everyone is welcome. Here's a link to last year's festivities so you know what to expect.

5) Treat yourself to an extra special meal. Push the boat out and make it an occasion. 


Recent conversations on the rule of six and Christmas


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