DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: Over the zoom at idea of a virtual party

December 20th, 2020 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

I’m weighing up the benefits of a Zoom Christmas party, on a week when we said goodbye to our best pal Tadgh and I realised that explaining the nativity is not as straightforward as you might imagine.

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It’s Week 40 and I’m getting misty-eyed about office parties of  yester-year (or even last year), while I start practising  my ‘I absolutely love it’ face for Christmas morning

• I THINK a defining moment in your attitude towards Christmas craic is when you start to become partial to a slice of Christmas cake. The odd mince pie is ok, but fruit cake with your morning cuppa is red flag territory that you’re becoming an old festive fart, who prefers slippers to stilettos, and the sofa to raucous selfies. It happens faster than you think, too. I can remember, not too long ago either, when I changed my ring tone for the full month of December to Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas. I wasn’t trying to be ironic or anything either, it was for the pure unadulterated joy of the season I was feeling. God be with the days! I can take or leave Christmas cake but I am most partial to almond icing. So on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being a complete Grinch, I’m giving myself a solid six.

• Attitudes to Christmas work parties are another giveaway sign of where you’re at on the Grinch scale. Once upon a time you’d be absolutely furious if the evening featured a meal, or food of any description. You’d consider organising a petition if the venue wasn’t in the city centre, right in the thick of the action, and it would never even cross your mind to book a taxi home. There was always a game plan, which never really went according to plan, and most years the thoughts of assuming a new identity and emigrating seemed like an easier option than facing your colleagues on Monday morning. I remember one year ... although, maybe not. There’s probably a limit to what I should share. Anyway, now it’s the complete opposite for me. I’m furious if there’s not a sit-down meal (thinking of both my feet and the soakage), or if the venue is too far away, and I nearly sort my lift home before I book the hair appointment. Either way though, in the words of Johnny Mathis: ‘It’s all a dream, an illusion now…’

• Except for Zoom parties of course. Initially I wasn’t convinced and figured there had to have been lots of ‘free stuff’ promised, or other sweeteners dished out, to get staff to buy in (or log on). Although now that I think about it, there might be something going for it –  you get to wear slippers (with your sparkles), if there’s another responsible adult in the house they can mute you if you get a bit lippy a few drinks in and put you to bed, and if things get very awkward or tedious you can just pretend you’ve a ‘dodgy internet’ connection and slip away. Count me in!

• Right, so my husband has been asking me for weeks what I want for Christmas and I’m struggling to commit. There’s stuff I really desire (a pink neon light for the TV room that comes with an insane price tag but which would make me insanely happy. I think); stuff that I need (a hoover that actually sucks up the dirt as opposed to moving it around like my current one), and stuff that would be perfectly nice (prescription sun glasses or a BBQ). I feel I’ve left it too late now and he’s gone rogue and I’m … nervous and practising that ‘wow, this is perfect!’ face for the big reveal on Christmas morning. To be fair he’s had considerable success over the years. And also some, unusual choices. There was a two-week trip to St Barts (in the very early days, he possibly peaked too soon), followed another year by a very blingy Armani wallet that offended every fibre of my being and made me question our entire relationship. (I’m exaggerating. Slightly). It’s a minefield. If you’re reading and it’s not too late, go with  the hoover, or the light … or the shades. (Although if he’s reading, I’ll probably get nothing).

• So, we made the tough decision this week and said goodbye to poor old Tadgh. It was the right thing to do for the poor fella, but you’d still be second guessing yourself when the call is yours. He was a really self-sufficient dog, who wasn’t overly zealous in his affection but when he gave you a nuzzle or a few moments of his time, you always knew he meant it, and wasn’t just looking for something. The place doesn’t feel the same at all without him.

• Entirely unrelated, but is there an easy way to explain the story of the nativity to a four-year old? When we were putting up the crib, I hopped straight in with: ‘Well you know the real reason we have Christmas don’t you is because it’s Jesus’ birthday?’ Blank face. ‘You mean Santa’s birthday?’ she said. ‘My birthday?’ she followed up with hopefully. We got back on track (slightly) but when I opened it to the floor for questions it went something like this: ‘So is Jesus alive? He’s in heaven? Are you alive in heaven? Will I go to heaven? Is Tadgh in heaven? How do you get to heaven?’ That’s the short version. Is there a ‘Dummy’s Guide’, I wonder?

As further restrictions are lifted for the festive season, young people have been praised for limiting their social contacts, while Covid statistics show it’s the 40-somethings (not guilty!) that are being a bit over enthusiastic in their post-lockdown behaviour. C’mon! We don’t want to be on Dr Tony’s naughty list this Christmas. Let’s listen to the experts when they say this is hopefully the last ‘holiday’ we’ll have to celebrate in a Covid way and let’s listen when they tell us that what we do over the next week or so will determine how 2021 will get underway.  But let’s not listen to reports that a  new strain of coronavirus has been identified in southern England. That’s just far too scary to even contemplate.

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