Six people around the table, not counting the children. With this recommendation delivered on December 3, the Prime Minister has definitely swept away the last dreams of great family reunions. ” It’s a sad Christmas, sighs Catherine, who did not wait for the government announcements to give up all hope of seeing her and her husband gathered around her, her two children and five grandchildren. It’s the only time in the year that I can enjoy them all together. It’s a moment out of time, full of magic! ” But this year, her son and his partner, who live in Paris, have decided not to come and celebrate Christmas at her home in Orléans. “My daughter is disappointed and makes a little head… Anyway, it won’t be a party! But there is nothing we can do about it, we suffer from the situation. “
In Orleans, as elsewhere, Christmas 2020 will inevitably have a special flavor. According to an Ifop poll for Odéro published on December 2 (1), half of French people intend to spend the holidays with people other than those who share their home, but this time it will be in small groups. Even before the official announcements, the number of guests planned for meals had been almost halved in intentions: on average five adults per table, against nine last year. Barely more than one in ten French people (11%) also plan to leave during the end-of-year holidays, or twice less than in 2019 (24%). “An unprecedented drop in intentions to depart for the Christmas holidays”, indicates the institute, which also notes a “Side effect of calls to reduce the number of guests” : one in ten French people will be alone this year at Christmas.
A family celebration par excellence
No more great reunions at the foot of the tree, no more crossings of France to meet… Like many, Stéphanie has given up going to her parents’ place with her 8-year-old daughter. ” This is the first time that we are not going and I find it very difficult to leave my parents alone at Christmas, she confides. But my father cumulates the risk factors for Covid and I don’t want to put him in danger. I am not sure that we would have succeeded in scrupulously respecting all the barrier gestures and that would have caused too much stress for everyone. I prefer to see them again when it’s all over. “
In the Ifop poll for Odéro, 44% of those questioned declared that they will not see elderly people this year, whereas they generally see seniors at parties. For families, the dilemma is often insoluble, sometimes painful. ” Christmas is the quintessential family celebration, recalls Nadine Cretin, historian of festivals. Being separated takes away some of its meaning from this event. “
→ INTERVIEW: Covid-19: How to prepare children for such a special Christmas?
In a general context woven of uncertainties, even worries, Christmas could nevertheless raise new expectations. ” It seems to me that this is the opportunity to really find the desire to celebrate it, not automatically, agreed or even constrained, says philosopher Laurence Devillairs. It is about being really there, with those who will share this Christmas with us: to give presence to his presence, and not only to uphold traditions. “
In Maine-et-Loire, Marie-Noëlle plans a Christmas “More focused on the essential, that is to say on the joy of finding each other. We agreed not to overdo it with the freebies. ” Usually, with her husband, their four children and their families, the table has no less than 17 seats. But this year, their eldest son, who lives in Canada with his wife and two children, will be missed. On the other hand, his last daughter living in Amsterdam will be able to join them. “It was unexpected”, Marie-Noëlle consoles herself.
By their rarity, the possible reunions should thus take on a singular dimension, after weeks of confinement. ” I really need to see my loved ones ”, breathes Isabelle, in her fifties. Her daughter paid her the train ticket to find her in Paris, as well as her parents. Despite her low income provided by the RSA, she plans a present for everyone: ” Usually, I go to the flea market, but this year, I will manage differently, she testifies. I don’t want to arrive empty-handed. “
A race for a more reasonable gift?
If the exchange of gifts will thus retain its essential place in the Christmas ritual, the context of the economic crisis could slow down the frenzy of the shopping race. ” We can hope so, launches sociologist Jean Viard. With the explosion of consumption over the past forty years, Christmas has gradually become a major commercial celebration. Circumstances offer us the opportunity to reconnect with its deep meaning. The restrictions imposed by the health crisis can be virtuous and bring back a form of purity. “
A mutation in which the philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky hardly believes. ” We’ll see what happens but I’m assuming the Covid episode won’t cause a vast transformation, he says. Christmas, with the New Year’s Eve, will be the time for the lifting of prohibitions. People will want to forget about the grayness and focus on the party. So I think the magnitude of the profusion of gifts will not vary, especially for children: parents will want to please them. “
Nourish bonds beyond distance
Especially since for families separated by kilometers, the object will have symbolic value. ” My mother asked me to buy a present and give it from her to my daughter, says Stéphanie. Beyond the material aspect, it is a way for her to mark her relationship with her granddaughter. Despite the absence, the links thus remain with sometimes even more force… and with the help of the Internet. The family of Marie-Noëlle and Jean-Paul will also be complete for a moment, thanks to the video. ” We can at least talk to my son on Christmas Day, it’s so important ”, she emphasizes.
In a world shaken by the pandemic, ” during the periods of confinement, then of re-containment, we kept talking about the essentials, positive the philosopher Laurence Devillairs. Doesn’t this Christmas offer us the opportunity to rediscover and practice it? What is important? The rush in the shops, the tree, the log? The current restrictions should push us towards a sobriety that can give us all more strength and ultimately more freedom. “
Christmas under conditions
If a curfew is to take over from containment from December 15, there will be no movement restriction on December 24 and 31. SNCF is also committed to putting 100% of the trains traditionally planned for the Christmas holidays back into service.
“A gauge of six adults without counting the children” has been “Recommended” by Jean Castex, Thursday December 3. The Prime Minister relied on the examples of neighboring countries, which have “Most, set a maximum number of diners ranging from six to ten people”.
An opinion from the High Council of Public Health “To specify the additional precautionary recommendations”, on barrier gestures in particular, is expected at the start of the week, he added.