Most years Christmas is a time of shopping, seeing friends and family, opening presents and celebrating the start of a new year. Christmas is a month of joy, celebration and hope.

However, like everything else this year, it won’t be a normal Christmas. Going into Christmas, it was clear that things were going to be a bit different, whether that was socially distanced shopping, doing more things virtually, or washing our hands a lot more. Yet, at the start of December, there was hope that we could return to some form of normality by Christmas, with the approval of a vaccine and the rules changing at the end of December to allow a Christmas bubble to see family and friends.

However, 2020 threw Croydon one last curveball as a new variant of COVID-19 meant that the area was put back into lockdown, and that hope of returning to a normal Christmas vanished. The rapid spread of the new variant has meant many people in Croydon have now been asked to stay at home, and their Christmas plans have had to completely change.

Young people, who have been fortunate in getting to go back to school and see their friends, will now have to stay at home over the Christmas Holidays, and for some return to online lessons at the start of the new year. Many young people who have got accustomed to seeing their friends on a regular basis at school will now have to adapt to being requested to stay home for the next few weeks.

Brendan, 16 said it was sad ‘Sad that I'm not able to go out to London with my friends this year, but it is worth it to keep everyone safe.’

Divy, 17 said ‘Christmas is the time to meet up and have fun, but with tier 4 restrictions, I'm limited to the house.’

Despite the stricter lockdowns, many young people are keen to find the silver lining, like Divy, who said, ‘spending good family time with board games and baking is a memory I'll cherish in the future - making most of the situation.’

Brendan also said he is spending Christmas virtually, ‘I've just been playing video games with my friends, wrapping some presents and watching movies with my family.’

So despite the challenges the changes in restrictions have created, and young people certainly aren’t spending Christmas like they normally do, Christmas can still be a source of joy, celebration and hope, even if much of it is virtual.

By Nicholas James