Had so many ups and downs since my last diary entry. Almost felt like quitting entirely last week, not Covid Realities, just life in general (not in a suicidal type way, more in a 'I've got no energy left for anything anymore' type way). So, some highlights: - our town did a Santa drive by thing, was a wee walk away so we got all dressed up in our holiday best and took a torch. Waited in the cold for nearly an hour at one of the drive by location, kids didn't mind so much as we were conveniently (or unfortunately from my washing machines perspective perhaps) close to a huge muddy puddle in a patch of fun looking grass. Other parents had the right idea is taking their kids out in PJs! The drive by lasted all of 30 seconds, a real sneeze n Santa's gone type affair. Very anticlimactic. But I hyped it up and I'd brought a torch with me, so kiddies and I took the long way home. Via a bike path sided by brambles, small woodlands, lots of bushes and the off field. It a popular walk for us during the day, but I felt we needed something to make the outing more worth while than mud and a quick wave from a passing Santa. So touch in hand, kiddies went dragon hunting through the rambles. Took over an hour to get back home but so worth it. Also bumped into some local youth workers, who were out trying to help local teen gangs, which I didn't know was a thing. Got talking to them, might be something I can help with in the future. When we got home kids were wiped, great night sleep from them. Formed a sort of unofficial bubble with a neighbour. They've got a little kid and are mostly home alone when their mister is at work. And we often talk over fence in garden, but we've taken to bringing toys and snacks out for kiddies to share and her little one can safely run around in our garden without worrying about their car or their broken gate. Also helping neighbour and me to have some adult company, we've discovered we've got similar mental health struggles and have been sorta help each other a little with that. Mostly just nice to have a friend who accepts ones mental health without stigmatising. That's so rare and precious. Found Aldi do vouchers, so when I got sent some money last week for Xmas gifts for kids from family (gifts I'd already brought not knowing if family would send money or not for them, cos I sure as heck wasn't gonna ask, and not wanting kiddies to go without) I immediately brought several vouchers from Aldi. That way on 23/24th we can take a trip to Aldi to buy Christmas Dinner items without worrying if the money will still be in my account in not come the day. Down days have been harder to lift out of lately. Even my kids are in a wee slump. It's kinda scary but I'm sure with kickdown and seasonal blues it's not worth fighting, just working through as a family. - the Christmas spirit has just been lacking. My daughter cried herself to sleep a couple days ago, cos (ill never forgot it) "this Christmas isn't a nice Christmas, it's not bad but it doesn't feel real. It doesn't feel like Christmas. It makes me sad." which was pretty heart breaking. We've been doing whatever we can to make things easier/better. Treasure hunts, local walks, online pantos and movie nights, cooking games/baking (when we've the ingredients, our local community centre sends craft bits for the kids each week, sometimes with baking items inside, which is nice). Just everything kinda feels so repetitive at this stage. It's not boredom per say but something along those lines - it's been so cold! Kids are in jumpers and thick socks to save on heating, yet the heating bill is still twice what it would normally be. I've been growing steadily more anxious this week as I see the money on my meter inching down each day (currently at £6) so I now gotta pick if imma spend the child benefit I get next Monday on heating or electric, or risk slipping into emergency meter (got a £15 leeway) but that'd come out of next months UC, so either way pretty buggered. January is gonna be a dark, emotionally, month. The aftermath of Christmas, less money, sugar withdrawn children and the false hope that this vaccine news is bringing (so many messages about how January will be so different from Dec, so many people don't seem to realise the vaccine will take months to be effective, nothing changing anytime soon). January is likely gonna be a tough month. I want to prepare but I just can't afford to do much more than currently doing. Just so emotionally worn out. Can't wait for this year to be over. So scared what next year will bring.