• Reading Level 5
Maths | Science | Art & Design | RE | PSHE

Christmas saved but many ask if it’s worth it

Do people really want a lockdown break? The UK is to announce a five-day Christmas amnesty tomorrow. Many other governments plan similar moves. But will they live to regret the consequences? The family stared at the feast before them in amazement, their heads adorned with lopsided paper crowns. In front of them, the table was overflowing with bowls of crisp roast potatoes, golden parsnips and scarlet cranberry sauce. And in the middle sat a gigantic turkey, the most enormous bird any of them had ever seen, plump enough to feed a dozen people. Meanwhile, piles of beautifully wrapped presents waited under the Christmas tree. That is how it is supposed to be. But many studies have shown that the reality of 25 December is rarely how it is supposed to be. All too often, the parents are exhausted, the children have not slept a wink, Uncle Fred has fallen asleep after a row about football and the plum brandy has disappeared. This year, above all, with families worried about Covid-19 and shopping prevented by lockdown, things may be very different. Even the turkey is set to be a disappointment. The commercial pressure on political leaders remains intense. Retailers are desperately counting on a shopping bonanza this Friday, otherwise known by some as “Black Friday”. As a result, all across Europe, politicians are racing to reassure people. “It’s official: Christmas is saved!” says the Daily Express this morning, adding that families will be able to meet for “five days of festive cheer”. French President Emmanuel Macron has promised that his government will “see whether we can hope to celebrate the festive season en famille”. And in Italy, where Christmas markets are banned, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has reassured children that Babbo Natale will not be subject to any travel restrictions. But Britons could have to pay for a family Christmas with tougher coronavirus restrictions on either side of the festive break, government scientists have said. Public Health England warned that every day of relaxation would require five days of tighter restrictions afterwards, to get transmission rates back down. “Saying to families, you can have a reasonably normal family Christmas, but then putting restrictions in place which may impact their livelihoods, I don't think is going to be a very welcome Christmas present,” said Mark Harper, a British member of parliament. So, will we really be thanking our leaders for “saving Christmas”? Festive joy? Yes, say some. People have suffered massive loneliness during lockdowns all over the world. Everyone deserves a break. The illnesses caused by social isolation are often worse than the effects of Covid-19. It is well-established by social scientists that Christmas can be a terribly bleak time for those who are separated from friends and family. And to cap it off, the weather looks set to be bitterly cold across Europe. No, say others. Politicians have fallen for the hype – encouraged by the marketing budgets of many giant corporations. What people most enjoy about Christmas is the anticipation – the last weeks of December with their simple pleasures such as advent carols, concerts, nativity plays and parties. We will now have a grim December and January for the sake of a five-day super-spreader holiday. KeywordsBlack Friday - The day after US Thanksgiving, when lots of shops offer discounts on goods for Christmas shopping.

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