How we’re celebrating Christmas in the time of Covid

It is the first Christmas under the new normal, and families are forced to do Christmas differently. MARSHA LEITCH spoke to some families about how they will be celebrating Christmas and what means the most to them during this time…

Comedienne Arlene Petersen

Comedienne Arlene Petersen from Lavender Hill said this will be the first year she’s spending Christmas with her immediate family. Previously she’s always gone on holiday with her church family or gone to have lunch at their house. This year, she said, they have no plans and were planning to just take the festive season one day at a time in the comfort of their own home.

“My family and I have never celebrated Christmas together before Covid-19 as we had different perceptions on how to celebrate Christmas,” she said.

“This led me to create my own family outside of my household. However, the head of the family where I usually spend my Christmas every year sadly passed away due to Covid-19 last Sunday, leaving my auxiliary family in self isolation, now I’m forced to spend Christmas with my own,” said Arlene.

Arlene will be cooking for her immediate family and she feels “excited, blessed and honoured” to be the one preparing their meal, she said.

While she has lost some people close to her to Covid-19, she is grateful that she still has her family with her this Christmas.

“As a full-time stand-up comedienne and my mother’s primary caregiver, it wasn’t easy on me financially,” she said.

She is, however, hopeful that people will realise the importance of having good relationships with their families. “My family and I are grateful to have reconciled with one another, the lockdown made us get to know each other again. I am so grateful that my family and I have survived such a traumatic year,” she said.

Western Cape Representative Council Learner (RCL) chairman, and Beacon Hill High School pupil, Alessio Marcus, his father, William Marcus, mother, Chrystal Marcus and sister, Chiara Marcus.

Western Cape Representative Council of Learners (RCL) chairman, and Beacon Hill High School pupil, Alessio Marcus, from Beacon Valley, said his family would be staying at home adhering to the Covid-19 protocols, cooking up a storm and just enjoying family time.

Before the lockdown period, they’d have family lunch and later in the day, visit other family members.

But due to the pandemic, he said: “We’ve adapted to the new normal as we are indoors and spending nice quality time as a family.

“Our family has celebrated many victories this year. Covid-19 has had its positives for us. We have really been blessed to not have lost any family members due to the pandemic. We are very thankful for this,” said Alessio.

Jorvan Outreach Student Community Centre in Woodlands.

Co-founder of the Jorvan Outreach Student Community Centre, Melanie Vandayar, from Woodlands, said they would be celebrating Christmas with their family. The centre offers a safe and conducive environment during exams for school-going pupils who are tutored and assisted with school work.

Although Covid-19 has imposed harsh restrictions, “it will not affect us as we never drive around on Christmas day,” she said.

“We’d usually sleep over at the home of the family hosting the lunch.”

All the “Jorvanites” have gone to spend Christmas with their families and will only return once school reopens in January.

It has been challenging this year as they had had to make a few changes to continue offering support to the Jorvanites who live with them during the school terms.

Amid all the anxiety and worry the Jorvanites still managed to perform excellently at school or university, said Ms Vandayar.

“We are sure that like many people we are ready to see Covid-19 go but realistically we understand that it will still be a while,” she said.

They will be starting an educare project which will be an extension of the Outreach centre which has celebrated many successes over the past 15 years. They plan to open Jorvan Prep School in the third week of January 2021.

Co-founder of Cape Town Naturally, Amanda Carpede, right, with her daughter Caitlin Cooke.

Co-founder of Cape Town Naturally, Amanda Carpede, from Strandfontein said she would be celebrating Christmas at her parents’ place.

They have a big garden where they’ll be putting up gazebos and eating outside. Her family have been self-isolating for a few weeks now so that they can celebrate together, she said.

“We’ll take temperatures and wear masks when we are not eating. Pretty much the same as when you would visit a restaurant,” she said.

After months of lockdown she’s come to terms with the fact that this is the new normal, and it may very well be so for the next year as well.

“Yes of course I feel frustrated, but that won’t get me anywhere. Keeping safe is the focus. I want to celebrate as many festivities as I possibly can in my life. Sacrificing one festive holiday for the safety of my family and friends is not going to harm me,” she said.

“My daughter, Caitlin Cooke, completed her matric year and unfortunately she didn’t get to celebrate her matric ball,” she said.

“A few of her friends had a house party and went away on holiday but Caitlin decided not to go, because she wanted to spend Christmas with her grandparents and the rest of their family. It was a decision she made on her own and “I commend her for that. I hope to throw her a matric ball next year,” said Ms Carpede.

“2020 was supposed to be the year my husband, Maurice Carpede, and I went on honeymoon. We got married last year and we decided to save and go on honeymoon this year. Unfortunately lockdown happened, so we decided to renovate our kitchen instead,“ she said.

“I know we are all frustrated but we need to stick to the plan of action – wear your mask, self-isolate if you are feeling ill or if you’ve been exposed and stay away from indoor gatherings where you cannot practice social distancing. Be safe, because it’s wild out there,” she said.