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Grandparents and coronavirus at Christmas

 mature woman with blanket reading a book

Updated: 23rd December 2020

LATEST: Millions more people are to enter Tier 4 from Boxing Day. UK leaders have agreed that the planned relaxation over the Christmas period is too risky given the recent rise in infection rate and the discovery of new variants of the virus

From 20th December England implemented a fourth tier. The governement has announced that from the 26th December much of the country will be in this highest tier. Use the government's postcode checker to find out more about the restrictions in your area. 

Following the recent government annnouncement, it's clear that Christmas is likely to be a lonely one for many grandparents across the UK. Although we are all clinging on to the positive news about vaccines, it's still a sad fact that many people are facing spending the day alone - something that is causing some grandparents, especially those who live on their own, great distress. If this is you, please do join our Virtual Gransnet Christmas Party - everyone is invited, from seasoned gransnetters to newbies. Bring your choice of virtual tipple and a plate of mince pies and let's chat trivia, tell Christmas jokes and generally have a good time. 

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What do grandparents think of the 'Christmas bubble'?

  1. It's irresponsible
    "Most of us want to meet with our families are Christmas, including me. We haven't been on our own for 20 years but will be this year what ever the government says. It's only one year (hopefully)." Kate 1949
  2. It's too risky given the vaccine is so close 
    "I’m still vulnerable and all my family teach so lots of exposure there. I’ve got this far so don’t want to mess it up when we’re just on the point of an effective vaccine being delivered." KateK
  3.  It's increased family tension
    "I wish they would now just ban it outright, instead of giving us a 'choice'.
    That is the only way that we could tell my elderly mother that she can't come to us for Christmas without her holding it againt us for ever more."

Cynicism over the Christmas relaxation

On the whole, gransnetters are of the opinion that families getting together at Christmas is not a great idea. This is why:

  • They are worried about the fallout afterwards. Older people are more at risk and yet again, they feel their wellbeing is not being taken into account.

"I think it's a stupid idea and irresponsible; yes, families would love to be able to get together this year but I think it's a luxury that will backfire."

  • There are concerns for the NHS. With so much pressure on hospitals and health services already, they are worried that a few days of relaxations could add to immense stress on the NHS ultimately leading to the loss of lives. 

"What about the healthcare system in January?"

  • They have sacrificed so much already. Many families have missed out on incredibly special family occasions and milestones. It has been a devastatingly isolating year for grandparents especially. With a vaccine tantalisingly close, they don't want to give up so close to what they hope is the finish line.

"I have braced myself for a Zoom Christmas. I live alone and it won't be fun..... but my daughter's a teacher with Covid spreading round her school, and also round my grandchildren's schools. I have been shielding since 11th March. It would be madness to throw all of that to the winds."

 

Top conversations on Christmas and Coronavirus

"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 

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What are the latest rules?

In England, areas in the south east (including London) and east of England have been put into Tier 4. This means that they are not allowed to socialise with anyone else indoors. From Boxing Day more areas will move into Tier 4.

If you are in Tiers 1-3, you are able to see a maximum of two other households, but only on Christmas Day.

You can find out more on this section of the government website on Christmas bubbles.  

 

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, most of their plans have now had to be changed.

Even those in Tier 1-3 who are allowed to see another household on Christmas Day are hesitant to do so. They are understandably cautious and, having shielded for so much of the year, are wary of putting their health at risk for one (albeit important) day. 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 will find it really difficult 

“This just makes me sad. I usually spend Christmas with my son and family in France. I’m trying not to think about it.”

 

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

2) 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. 

3) Get your home 'winter lockdown ready' - puzzles, wine, new throws, yarn - gransnetters have plenty of ideas on how to make your home lockdown ready.

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

 

Recent conversations about Christmas

 

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