Christmas 2020 in Derry

As we enter December in Derry, many enter the realisation that Christmas won’t be what we often picture.

Perfectly wrapped presents will turn into paper packages in the post. Tables filled with the aroma of freshly cooked turkey and Christmas pudding will become turkey sandwiches over a crowded Zoom call.

Warm embraces at the front door have become chilly fingers meeting perfectly at either side of the windowpane. The bustling streets around the Diamond have become frames for unseen Christmas lights as lockdown strikes again.

The brightest Christmas trees are the ones that stand proudly at either side of the Peace bridge. No presents paraded at their feet, just a glowing reminder that we will be apart this Christmas, but we will remain connected.

As a city, we must remember what we do have.

The sun still rises low on every crisp winter morning as our breaths catch the bitter December air. The Foyle still glows in bursts of pastel as the winter sun sets. The Christmas lights still glisten boldly at every turn, brightening our daily commutes.

Children still run giddily towards Santa’s reindeer and sleigh that bring the grounds of the Town Hall to life. Christmas cards from our loved ones, perfectly sealed with festive stickers, still arrive daily in the post.

Couples, young and old, still walk hand in hand under a blanket of stars along the waterfront. Fami- lies make the effort to catch up outdoors, their hands clasped tight around fresh cups of spiced pumpkin latte, as they fight the cold to spend longer with those they cherish.

Laughter is still in the air, if you just listen out for it. “It’s Santa, mummy!” still melts the heart of Grinches and lovers of Christmas alike. A stranger’s hello still brings a smile to a lonely soul.

The lockdown will lift, and we will dine in our favourite restaurants and pull open crackers with our loved ones. The shops will be bustling again, as we Christmas shop amongst a sea of festive masks.

Those who depend on the company of the local pub will once more grab their favourite crisp pint and homemade steak pie, surrounded by the comforting mumbles of strangers.

Christmas 2020 in Derry will still go ahead. It may not be grand, it may not be expensive, it may not be busy; but it can still be merry and bright.

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