Monthly Musing – November 2020 – Too late

This weekend, we made the tough decision not to meet up with our family at Christmas.  It was tough because it’s never easy to tell loved ones that you won’t be  spending time with them – but at the same time it was very easy because we want to keep them safe.

Small daughter has been at school, big daughter has had uni work which has taken her out of the house, my husband and I have been out to buy food and essentials … not much of a risk, you might think, but we have been in contact with so many more people than the rest of our family have and with other people’s underlying health conditions to consider, we are not prepared to take even the slightest risk that we might pass something on.

For others in a similar situation, Christmas might feel like a write-off.  Making our choices, however, has felt empowering to us.  We are all free to do whatever we want to in our own houses on Christmas Day (there’s already talk in our house of wearing pyjamas All Day, but I’m not sure about that!), we can still talk to each other over video call and there will be other days when we can get together.  Sure, it won’t be Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, but as our Christmas dinner is essentially just a bigger version of a Sunday dinner, we know we will be able to create a celebratory family meal another time when it’s safer for us to get together.

We might have chosen differently if any of our households were just one person who would be left on their own, but we are fortunate not to be in that position.  We are thankful that we can still be together remotely, that we have the means to connect via the internet and that hopefully, we’ll be able to talk about Christmas 2020 for years to come as the year that everything was different.

This situation has reminded me of an interview I heard with the actor, Celia Imrie, where she said that her mother always told her that the two saddest words in the English dictionary were … and here she paused, and I filled in the words myself – “good bye”? (good byes always make me cry!), “I’m sorry”? – but I really wasn’t expecting what she said next.

“Too late.”

Oh yes, absolutely.  I can remember the moment that I heard her speak, the words made my eyes fill with tears because I realised the truth of it.  “Too late.”  Those words cover everything – something that you’ve missed, something that you’ve done and regretted, something that dims the light in your life – and I think that Celia Imrie’s mother was right.


As much as we’ll miss our family, we are all determined that our choice not to see each other will not mean that our actions will result in those words being relevant to us.  We may not pull crackers on Christmas Day, but if we are lucky, it won’t be too late for us to do so another day.

Four Christmas light decorations - one is a house, the next is two reindeer, the third is a reindeer and trees and the fourth is a polar in pine trees

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22 Responses

  1. Denise says:

    Such wise words, "Mum"! Here in Victoria, Aus, we are just opening up again, with most interstate borders open as of today. I think, however, there will be many who make the same choice as you and over 900 families for whom it is I indeed "too late" because of this horrible disease. I know you will find a way to make Christmas very special with those who mean the most.

  2. michelle says:

    nothing wrong with wearing pj's all day it has been a long standing tradition for me to wear pj's all day news years day

  3. Lucy W, Kent ~ England says:

    A courageous decision.
    I married in Oct 2020 after 13 years of widowhood and 8 years for hubby.
    Circumstances (our house purchase being at an inebriated snails pace) he
    will remain in a Nursing Home in Hampshire while I'm in my disabled bungalow
    in Kent. We've had 7 hours (all supervised you can't trust people of 63 & 77
    to behave it seems) since we married and we won't be together for Christmas.
    So when we finally get our home, we'll decorate the living room, put up our
    Christmas tree, carols on the CD player and we'll make our own Christmas and
    New Year if necessary.
    Hope yours is a good one. Stay safe and sane

  4. Mimijo says:

    We have made the same difficult for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are the “old people” at 68 and appreciate our children understanding our decision to remain distanced even over the holidays. Thanksgiving was a bit lonely as I expect will Christmas. We look forward to a vaccine and many more future Christmas celebrations with family and friends.

  5. MidgePorterDesign says:

    My husband and three daughters have requested a PJ Day Christmas (as they do every year) and for the first year ever I have agreed. I have bought them snuggly new onsies/ PJs each and I have knitted them all a pair of socks. ‘Too late’ is sad and I shall be missing my Dad very much this year. Let’s all hope for a better 2021 xx

  6. Sheila says:

    Fully understand your feelings. It will be the first Christmas that we won’t be with our son and family over Christmas or New Year as they are in Dublin. But hopefully we will see them eventually in 2021 and will enjoy it all the more

  7. luluknitts says:

    So true Christine. Although when I read the words "too late" in your post, I immediately thought of all the buses I've missed in my life! Hey ho…. xxxx

  8. Treeze says:

    Too late. So true. Very poignant indeed.

    We have made a similar decision as our young people are much more socially active than we are (though within the rules) – one will be returning to the gym and one is coming back from uni too.

    We are quite looking forward to a lazy chilled Christmas just the four of us. I think it is important to remember regarding the wider family that we love one another and are secure in that; not seeing each other on one day of the year doesn’t change that does it?

    Wishing you peace over the coming season – have a lovely day with your family!

  9. Targanielle says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! Exactly how me & my husband feel this year. Also for the wise words of Celia Imrie's mother – always relevant but all the more so now!

  10. Ariane20 says:

    C'est toujours un plaisir de lire vos articles Christine et merci Google translate !!!

  11. Unknown says:

    Well written Christine. X

  12. Geeha says:

    Thank you for your insightful comment. Sadly we do have members of the family who will Christmas alone feeling this is necessary to do as much as we can to be there to celebrate next year. Just glad that my father died 18 months ago so did not have to endure months of shielding alone.

  13. Unknown says:

    Loved this post! Full of wisdom, sense and emotion but I really related to the tears goodbyes bring.
    Christmas will be different for so many but better that than the possible alternatives.
    I'm sure you will enjoy it however it is celebrated. Take care.

  14. Rusty'sMum says:

    I am completely with you on this. We have been extremely cautious this year ans not socialised at all since March. We no longer have our very elderly folk. But we have agreed not to see our adult daughter and partner in real life. We look forward to spending online time together (we cook together online once a week already) and it gives them the opportunity to have their own Christmas at home, without dashing around the country seeing us and her partner's parents. We will all embrace a different kind of Christmas. Wishing you a splendid Christmas x

  15. Christine Wheeler says:

    Well said Christine I feel that you have said what the majority of people feel. There will still be all those that think because you can’t see it, feel it or smell it it’s not there so carry on regardless!!!!!! Have a lovely Christmas and go with the PJ’s all day. Lol. Xxx

  16. Susan Rayner says:

    It is a very hard decision but so much better to be safe! We have just found out that neither my sister nor I can go to Cornwall for Christmas to see my 95 year old mother who will be on her own for only the second time since she was widowed 23 years ago! My sister's cancer treatment has compromised her immune system and I have asthma and we have both been told not to travel over 300 miles for two days at Christmas! Very sad – but we will do what we can log distance – hampers and so on being put together! Hopefully there will be another Christmas we can all share and that next year won't be "too late".

  17. loraine everard says:

    Yet again, Christine, you hit the nail right on the head! Excellent post.xx

  18. happy hooker says:

    We might do the 3 hour round trip to visit our daughter, son-in-law and 6 month old grandson, before Christmas, but we'll just stand at the gate and chat, and leave their presents on the driveway. Our son and daughter-in-law live too far away to do that, so it'll be a virtual visit with them. But there is light on the horizon, and hopefully some time next year we will all be able to meet and hug our loved ones. Until that day, we must keep each other safe. xx

  19. Wendy6866 says:

    Well said! A good reflection. Hugs WAHx.

  20. Unknown says:

    wise words. Have a happy but covid safe Christmas in your village. Hopefully all your family and friends will make it through to the better happier times on the other side of this epidemic.with best wishes to all from a great little town with a big heart called Yea in rural Victoria Australia.

  21. Mandy says:

    Thanks for your wise words. We too will be spending Christmas on our own to keep my elderly mother and uncle safe and also myself as I am in the vulnerable category. Will be in touch virtually and will miss them but their safety is our priority.

  22. Jennyff says:

    You are very wise, if everyone was as sensible we might be in a better state. I saw on the news last night a so called celebrity had seriously broken the restrictions twice, apologising profusely on both occasions. Christmas won’t be the same, it’s not the end of the world, spreading the virus could be, keep safe.

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