Life Style

Christmas 2020 away from loved ones



Christmas creates debate this year in families. Are we going to meet several generations around the New Year’s Eve table, like last year, while taking the necessary precautions, or are we going to follow the recommendations of the government, 6 guests maximum (not counting the children) ?

→ READ. Our dossier on Christmas 2020

At home, we don’t really agree, admits Bastien, father of a 6-year-old girl. Usually, we celebrate Christmas with my parents and several of my brothers, at one of us. But this year my wife finds it reckless and does not want us to meet. And it grips my heart. I find it difficult to mourn family celebrations. “This” mourning “, some refuse to do it and will find themselves as usual to share a turkey or a capon, because, for them,” Christmas is not negotiable “.

The importance of links

This is not the case for Gabrielle, who, for the first time, will not see her grandsons, 16-year-old twins, who will stay in the South, for the end of the year holidays. “For the sake of safety”. “For a southerner like me, it’s difficult not to have physical contact to say that we love each other”. The septuagenarian plans to spend Christmas evening with a former colleague who became a friend who, knowing that she was alone with her husband, invited them to her home. “My husband has trouble projecting himself, I try to be positive, hoping to celebrate Christmas with the family later, in February. In the meantime, I prepare my thirteen desserts to offer them or send them to my relatives, like my older sister, who lives in nursing homes ”.

→ PRACTICAL. Covid-19: Christmas with the family, what will be allowed or not

According to sociologist Serge Guérin, this particular Christmas forces us to think not about what we are going to put on the menu but rather with whom we are going to spend it. “This is an opportunity to question our ties, the importance we give them, and the way we are going to organize ourselves. If we don’t celebrate Christmas with our loved ones, how will we compensate? “, he asks.

Assess the risks

“Families need to talk to each other more and better, even on the phone. This forces us to prioritize things, to take into account the fragility of the elderly, the duties we have towards them ”, continues Serge Guérin. Siblings and families will sometimes have to separate, celebrate Christmas several times, be inventive to stay in touch at a distance.

For Marie de Hennezel, clinical psychologist, it is up to each family to assess the risks, to think about the best means to protect themselves, to determine what they can or cannot do, while remaining cautious, depending on the history. health of each of its members. “ We have to manage the situation on a case-by-case basis: we do not take the same precautions with those who have already been infected with Covid-19 and those who are potentially contagious ”, underlines the psychologist.

→ MAINTENANCE. Covid-19: how to live a Christmas from a distance with grandparents?

Anyway, according to the psychologist, it is sad for the grandparents to be kept away from Christmas, after the ordeal of the first confinement, even though it is a marked symbolic family holiday. by sharing, reuniting, childhood memories. How do they risk living this distancing? “We cannot generalize, some will accept it, others will be weakened by it, and will experience it as an exclusion, at the risk of slipping”, warns Marie de Hennezel.

Mobilization of associations

Christmas is one of the great rites, one of the most important of the year, to the point that many associations are mobilized to avoid leaving, on December 24, people in solitude. “And there, we would impose it on our relatives?” “, the psychologist is indignant. This cites the case of this couple planning to look for a relative in nursing home where he suffered so much, last spring, in order to give him the gift of a family Christmas. Even if it means keeping his chair away from the youngest, even if it means imposing a test on his return to the establishment.

→ READ. Covid-19: relaxed rules for parties in nursing homes

A new protocol, in force from December 15 to January 3, also relaxes the rules in order to facilitate the reunion of residents of retirement homes with their loved ones. “It is the emotional, social, spiritual and sharing life that gives meaning to our existence. Preserving the bond with the elderly at Christmas is a flame of hope in these difficult times ”, rightly reminds Marie de Hennezel.

Giving perspectives

Christmas, the celebration of the bond par excellence, can confront single people with their loss, sometimes recent bereavement, their anguish, their anxiety, and bring back traumas. Many, that night, called SOS Amitié (1) to hear the voice of an interlocutor with whom a bond can be forged, at least for the duration of a conversation. Moreover, 50% of Internet users who contact the association by chat are under the age of 25. This year, a number of students living abroad will not be returning home for Christmas.

“It is essential in this case to stay in touch with these young people by Zoom or Skype, to give them perspectives, warns Nicole Prieur, family therapist. And make sure to send them a small personalized gift by post or, better, hand it over, even if it means postponing the date of the festivities ”. In these particular circumstances, notes the specialist, one can also learn from the experience of divorced households familiar with separated Christmases. “Like them, we have to be resilient, and therefore creative.” By avoiding putting too much affect in a constrained organization.

“Everyone’s freedom does not mean a lack of love”, points out the psychopractor Ondine Khayat. If a limited number of guests have to be chosen from a family circle, the latter recommends drawing lots.. “Thus, we avoid adding guilt to an already complicated situation”, she specifies, giving priority “Solidarity and benevolence” Not to mention the little attentions to those absent, such as sending a handwritten letter to open on Christmas Eve, to tell them how important they are to us. Finally, she concludes, even at a distance from those close to her, “It is important to preserve the link to oneself”. Dressing, combing your hair, applying makeup carefully, giving yourself a gift, is also a way of keeping control of your life.

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A forced December 24

This year, 57% of French people should spend Christmas evening with their family. 22% will wake up as a couple, 2% with friends. 10% will stay alone on the evening of December 24 (compared to 4% in 2019).

Only half of the French (55%) usually spending the holidays with their grandparents go to see at least one of their elders at Christmas.

A large majority of the French plans to respect barrier gestures such as washing hands (94%) and ventilating rooms (87%). But they are much less likely to be ready to follow more restrictive recommendations, such as taking a test before seeing relatives (26%) or wearing a mask inside the home (40%). (Source: Ifop study for Odéro, carried out in November 2020)

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