‘We couldn’t see dying loved ones last Christmas – No 10 parties are kick in the teeth’



Brits who spent last Christmas away from loved ones feel “cheated” that he government did not make similar sacrifices.

The UK was under the tier-system during last year’s holidays, which meant that Brits across the country were away from family.

For many, this meant being separated from their parents and children during the time of year where family is at the forefront.

For Aled James, 25, a large part of Christmas Day was spent alone, away from his parents who were in another tier, and with his sister at work.

Speaking to the Mirror, he said: “Christmas for me, I’m usually with my family in the day and my friends at night.

Aled found the festive period particularly challenging as he relapsed on his eating disorder but was unable to see his parents
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Aled James)

“It was a lot more isolated over Christmas – it just felt weird. We had to FaceTime our Dad in the morning, and even though that was nice, it was still very weird.

“It was just me and my sister in the day time and she left to work in the evening and I was alone.”

The only time he saw his family in the festive period was when he met up with his mum a week before Christmas in a petrol station to exchange presents at a distance while wearing PPE.

The holiday season was also a particularly difficult time for Aled as he relapsed with his eating disorder.

Aled, from Cardiff said: “I got better but because Christmas people like to indulge and stuff, it is a difficult period for me on a personal level.

“I couldn’t drive home to see my parents and I know my dad spent Christmas alone.”

To make matters worse, his grandmother was also in and out of hospital and the family were informed that she may pass away.

Aled was unable to visit his grandmother while she was in and out of hospital over the Christmas period
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Aled James)

However, due to the restrictions at the time, they were unable to visit her.

She sadly died earlier this year, and Aled was unable to see her before to say goodbye.

He said: “She got better and went back home, but it was the same thing.

“I was in Cardiff, which was a highly transmittable area, and I didn’t want to go home to visit her.

“She died peacefully at home with my auntie and cousin by her side. I couldn’t go and see her but I really wanted to.”

Aled, along with other Brits, is hoping that this year Christmas Day will be different.

The rapidly increasing rate of Covid infections due to the new Omicron variant cast doubt on whether Christmas would go ahead
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Adam Gerrard / Sunday Mirror)

He said: “My plans for this year are to spend it with my mum. I didn’t see her last year and she’s high risk so it will be good to get a Christmas in with her.

“If they do announce another lockdown, my mum will be quite strict so it may have to be another sacrifice, but so far its looking better than last year.”

If all goes to plan, he will see his dad in evening before heading to see his friends to celebrate at night.

While he is hopeful for a better Christmas, Aled is furious that while he and the rest of the country sacrificed precious time with loved ones, the Tories were not following the same rules.

He said: “It was infuriating, that’s the only way I can describe it and I felt insulted as well.

“For me, I was lonely and – I’m better now – but, I relapsed with my eating disorder over Christmas.

Many families feel ‘cheated’ and ‘insulted’ that the sacrifices they made were seemingly not reciprocated by Boris Johnson

“I made a lot of sacrifices, my grandma passed, and I’m sure a lot of other people were the same.

“What was difficult is that the police were in parks dispersing crowd, shutting down parties, handing out massive fines – these are rules that the government put in place, but they were breaking and expecting to get away with it.”

On Sunday, the Department of Health announced that 82,886 people had tested positive for Covid in 24 hours. Exactly a year earlier the figure was 27,052.

However, the number of lives lost to the virus has been far lower thanks to the roll-out of the vaccination programme.

In the week leading up to December 21, the number of people testing positive for Covid totalled 547,606, according to government figures.

This compares with 176,641 in the seven days up to December 19, 2020 – meaning there has been a 210 per cent increase.

Natalie is furious that the day her family held a funeral for her mother-in-law, the government were having a Christmas party
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Natalie Sommers)

This year she will spend Christmas surrounded by her big family
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Natalie Sommers)

On December 23, a record-breaking 119,789 Covid infections were recorded in one day.

Boris Johnson is said to be weighing up putting England into Step 2 restrictions again to tackle the Covid wave.

An anxious Prof Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, last week warned: “I’m afraid we have to be realistic that records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks as the rates continue to go up.”

Another Brit who endured a difficult Christmas is Natalie Sommers, 46 from Colchester.

Natalie spent Christmas at home with her husband, children, niece and her niece’s mum.

Her family would usually alternate Christmas’ with the grandparents, and last year they were due to go to Natalie’s parents house on boxing day to celebrate with them.

However, due to her parents being in London under the strictest tiers, they were forced to cancel their plans, leaving her mother “tearful” at the thought of not seeing her grandchildren.

Last year Natalie’s children called their grandparents in the morning, who were ‘devastated’ that they were unable to see them
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Natalie Sommers)

Natalie told the Mirror: “We FaceTimed [my parents] on Christmas morning so they could see the kids unwrap their presents, but my mum was devastated really.

“Christmas is her big thing and she was unable to be with her family. They’re in their 70s and they’re healthy but they’re not getting any younger and they don’t want to miss anything.”

The gloomy holiday season was made worse by the fact that that Natalie’s mother-in-law tragically passed away a few weeks before Christmas after contracting Covid-19.

The funeral was on December 18, just a week before Christmas, and was a smaller affair than the family would have wanted.

Natalie said: “They’re orphans now, [my husband] and his brother and sister. They lent on each other and helped each other out as much as possible.

“Compared to his father’s funeral nine years ago, it was a very quiet affair.

“That was a real shame because she had a huge circle of friends who would have loved to have come and celebrated her life.

Many families across the UK spent the holidays away from their loved ones
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Image:

Natalie Sommers)

“My daughter last saw her [grandmother] in February 2020, she went with my husband and I stayed at home with my son because he was ill. He hadn’t seen her probably since Christmas 2019.”

“In many ways we were lucky that we were able to have a funeral, but I know a lot of people who had to wait a long time to bury their loved ones.”

Natalie feels “cheated” that her family were unable to have the funeral that they hoped for when on the same day, the Tories were flaunting lockdown rules and having an illegal party.

She said: “‘Finding out that that was the very day a party was going on in Downing Street is just a kick in the teeth.’

The festive season was dampened by the passing of Natalie’s husband’s mum
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Image:

Natalie Sommers)

“There we were, the vast majority of the population, doing the best for each other and thinking the government is telling us what to do because its the right thing to do, and they’re not even following it themselves.

“How can you have the moral authority to lead when you’re letting your own party go and do these things? You feel a bit cheated.”

This Christmas Day, Natalie and her family are hoping to “pile in the car” and head down to her parent’s house in South London.

She will be surrounded by 15 of her family members, and will be able to meet her great-god daughter who was born earlier this year for the first time.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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