"You're on mute!" I find myself repeating these words over and over again. My coworker sits there looking at the screen with a confused face.
"The little red button with a white stripe through it," I try to guide him as to where it is. He still looks confused. "You know what? I'll just call you," I hang up the skype call and grab out my phone. It's 6:24. I have half an hour until my family video chat and I have one hour until my friends' video chat. All in one night. Who organised it all you may ask? Well they all organised it all. And they all decided it would all be tonight. I feel like Ebenezer Scrooge from a Christmas Carol. I'm the ghost of Corona past, present, and future. Three video calls in one night. My cat Mindy hops up beside me. She meows at me to give her attention. I stroke her and dial Nicky's phone number. Incredible. He's not picking up. I send him an SMS message. "I called you but you didn't answer, call me when you can," I walk over to the refrigerator and grab out Mindy's food. My phone vibrates in my hand. What is it now? I slide the dial across and answer.
"Hello?" It's Nicky.
"Hi May, sorry about before, you know I'm not that tech savvy,"
"Yes, I know that," I pause and think, "Can we do a facetime?"
I flip my phone around as Nicky's face appears. He's found a Christmas hat and some funny socks which he's put on his hands. I hide a smile and set my phone down in front of me.
“Merry Christmas!” I say trying to sound cheery. A big grin appears on Nicky’s face.
“Merry Christmas!” He says to me. We laugh and spend most of the time chatting and remembering past traditions. We’ve been friends since we were five. We used to sit on one of the houses' roofs and dip hot chocolate on Christmas Eve as we watched the stars come out. We used to pinpoint random constellations and try and figure out what they were. I hear my laptop buzzing. I put the phone down and walk over to it. It’s my family! But they aren’t meant to be calling until 6:55! It’s only 6:40. I pick up my phone.
“Sorry Nicky I have to go now but we should do this again sometime,” I say apologetically. I hang up on him and answer the skype call coming from my laptop.
“Hey guys,” five bright faces pop up on my screen.
“Merry Christmas!” They all shout to me. I smile “Merry Christmas,” I say in reply. I run to the fridge and grab out the slice of Christmas Cake that they dropped round for me. It was our tradition. Every year we would eat a slice of cake whilst listening to Christmas carols and drinking eggnog. I walk back to my laptop and start eating my cake. Christmas carols stream through my screen. My family sit there eating their pieces and smiling at me. I finish my slice and we launch into conversation. We talk about everything we used to do, back when I hadn’t moved out. We had this one dvd that we watched every single year on Christmas Eve. The Snowman. We couldn’t watch it this year. I think back to all the times we snuggled around the fire and sat watching and listening to the movie. A tear appears on my cheek. Will we ever be able to do that again? My family and I could go on talking for hours. But my alarm goes off. It’s time for my friends’ facetime. I say goodbye to my family and hangup.
My phone buzzes. I answer it and plaster a big smile on my face.
“You’re on mute!” Why is it always me who finds the people who can’t work technology? They sit there just like Nicky was. Confused and frustrated faces clouding the screen. They figure it out and turn on their microphone.
“Hello,” They say to me.
“Merry Christmas!” I say to them. They wish me back. I smile at them. Thank goodness this is the last video call. I don’t know how much longer I can put up this act of being cheery. I just feel like sleeping to be honest. We chat about this, that, and the next thing. I find myself growing tired. Normally we would have a slumber party at Lizzie’s house on the 21st of December. We would chat all night and stay up drinking hot cocoa and earring marshmallows. My mouth waters. I would love to be doing that right now. My clock chimes as it marks it going to nine o’clock. Wow, it’s quite late. I say my goodbyes and hang up. I’m so glad I can sleep now. I collapse on my bed and Mindy comes up next to me. She snuggles into my duvet and I enter sleep land.
I wake up to the sun on my face. That’s odd. It’s meant to be cold. I am in England after all. I get up and stretch. I wander over into my lounge area. A big Christmas tree has been put up. Where did that come from? My family, my friends and Nicky are all standing in front of it with grins on their faces.
“What are you all doing here?” I ask
“Wwe decided to surprise you, we know that we all called you on the same night. We did it deliberately, we had to make you tired and go to sleep so that we could come and set this all up,” M<y mum finishes.
“But you can;t be here. What about COVID and all the restrictions?”
“Didn’t you hear?” Nicky asks “The amount of people in a house increased to ten! And how many of us are there?” He asks with big eyes.
“There’s ten of us,” I smile and rush over. We all embrace in a big group hug. There is hope at the end of all this. It will end. In the meantime we can adapt to new traditions. We all laugh and make merry throughout the day. We drink eggnog and hot chocolate. We psary whipped cream all over our faces and into our mouths. Christmas carols and Christmas decorations cover my apartment. This should be a new tradition.