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While most people across Australia are preparing to celebrate crushing the Covid-19 curve by hosting relatively normal Christmases this year, there are plenty that will spend Friday alone – those in lockdown or enforced isolation.
Emytha Taihutu never expected to be in Australia for Christmas, but after her partner’s medical condition made it impossible for him to return to Bali, she made the trip to look after him. Now she must spend Christmas Day alone in a Sydney hotel room.
“It’s pretty hard because Christmas is the best time of the year. I love to spend time with family,” she said.
“I cried when I arrived in Australia.”
In fact, Taihutu has cried a lot since arriving in her room. But the architect is determined to make the best out of a bad situation, transforming scrap paper, magazines and even food packaging into beautiful Christmas decorations to brighten her room.
“When I arrived they asked me what I needed and I said ‘could you send me some watercolours?’. I started with that, and with the waste paper I started creating Christmas trees and angels and trying to make it as cheerful as possible so I feel like I’m not lonely,” she said.
Her room is now decked out in hand-painted Merry Christmas signs, intricate 3D snowflakes and complicated cardboard Christmas trees.
“I’m making Christmas thank you cards for all the staff so when they come to pick up the food I’ve put a little thank you card in there. I love it,” she said.
Taihutu will be video calling with her and her partner’s family on Christmas day, and although she is looking forward to it, she says it won’t be the same.
“I’ve already cried this morning because Christmas Eve is the important day in Indonesia … But my partner was saying, at least we have New Year’s Eve together.”
In Sydney’s northern beaches there are now thousands of people preparing for a locked-down Christmas. While slightly relaxed restrictions have come into place for the north side of the peninsula over the Christmas period, Rebecca Anderson’s family won’t be able to take advantage of it.
Her children got the sniffles a few days before Christmas, meaning the whole family have had to isolate while they wait to get the test results. Unfortunately, they didn’t buy ingredients for Christmas lunch beforehand.
“I was waiting until today to get paid to go do this grocery shopping but my kids got sick … You can’t have anything delivered you can’t even do click and collect,” she said.
“I’ve got some rice, I’ve got some oats. We might have some frozen veggies so I could maybe make fried rice.”
But Anderson says she is secretly a little relieved.
“I’m certainly not miserable having Christmas cancelled,” she laughed.
“It’s actually a huge relief to not have to make food, take food, go somewhere and then, you know, drive all the way home.
“I think there’s a lot of people who actually feel like Christmas itself has kind of got lost along the way and it’s actually quite a nice time to just, you know, go back to making it more simple. We are going to take the time to be grateful for what we’ve got not worry about the presents, not worry about the food.”
Bronwen Seal’s family are also trying to make the best of this Christmas, despite now being spilt across the globe.
Seal and her husband Guy Clarke have lived in Jordan for six years but as the pandemic dragged on in the Middle East they made the difficult decision to part ways temporarily. Seal closed her business and flew their two boys back to Australia while Clarke stayed on in his role in Jordan to provide income.
“To split the family up was a massive, massive thing for us to do, but I mean just we had to. I was running out of medication, our boys were basically home all the time and that’s not a childhood for kids, it’s not fair on them,” she said.
While they wanted to have Christmas together, Seal said they had to jump on a repatriation flight leaving from Frankfurt, which meant spending the 25 December in quarantine in Howard Springs, Darwin.
“Honestly the stress of this last year and all the worries and anxiety. There’s not much worse in the world than to be told you definitely can’t get home. So, to be home, to me it doesn’t even matter, we can celebrate Christmas with my family on the 28th of December. We are home now,” she said.
And they are doing their best to still have a festive day in their room.
“They gave us a bag of decorations to hang up in the room when we arrived. It’s the really thoughtful small touches like that but it made a big difference.”
Unlike in other states, the NT has allowed guests at Howard Springs to order from Kmart and supermarkets and have quarantine staff members deliver goods to their rooms, meaning the boys Elliott, 9 and Toby, 6 will still be able to open presents on Christmas morning.
“That makes a massive difference anyway so we have no complaints,” she said.
“Now the boys are just looking forward to Christmas and they know that it’s almost over.”
Have you ever spent Christmas alone – how did you make it through? Tell us in the comments.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Small touches make a big difference’: share your experiences of spending Christmas alone | Christmas