For millions of people in Australia, Christmas was meant to be the light at the end of the tunnel of a long, difficult and dark year – the antidote to the isolation of the pandemic; a joyous reunion for far-flung family members who have been cut off by state borders.
But for residents of the Northern Beaches and Sydney, the recent coronavirus outbreak has upended their celebrations. Whilst the exact restrictions for Christmas Day are yet to be announced, Greater Sydney residents have all been banned from visiting other Australian states and local transmission of the virus in Sydney means Christmas plans will not continue as normal.
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So, in light of these developments, we asked 11 women from Sydney how they are feeling.
This is what they said.
I was a big mess on Friday. We’re still going to Newcastle (we live in Northern NSW), but we are no longer meeting with family in Penrith as planned, and our family who live in South Australia can’t visit. It’s not so much the fact that we’ve had to change our plans, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to break bad news to my kids this year. They were so looking forward to seeing their cousins, whom they haven’t seen for nearly two years. I tried to tell my kids but started crying, so my partner had to finish that conversation.
I am feeling really shit about it all. I was secretly looking forward to Christmas but now with the 10 person limit there is simply no way we can make it happen. We also have family members who need to stay out of Sydney so they can travel home. Add to that my mother-in-law is in an aged care facility, so we can't see her. So she will sit there alone. It is just sh*t that a few people who breached quarantine from international travel have ruined everything for the rest of us.
My only family in Australia is my brother on the Northern Beaches and my other family members are in New Zealand. For me, the worst part is having everything be 'up in the air'. It makes managing my own expectations really hard - I'd rather know now if there's no chance of seeing my brother for Christmas so I can be upset over it now, get it out of my system and make alternative plans.
I'm also mourning the fact that this outbreak has probably pushed back the New Zealand bubble even more. I'm a three-hour flight from my parents and a 40 minute drive from my brother, but it feels like I may as well be in Antarctica. It's very isolating and lonely.
If we are only allowed 10 people to visit a household, my family won't be able to attend. We lost my dad to brain cancer during COVID-19 and our family couldn't attend the funeral as only 10 people were allowed. We've all been holding onto Christmas as the get-together we so desperately need to honour dad. On the flip side, I have a beautiful toddler who doesn't quite get Christmas yet but loves ripping open gifts and brings so much happiness. Trying to focus on the good, which is a cheeky little person.