Holidays canceled, shortened or still pending: many French people wonder how to spend the All Saints holidays, torn as they are between the desire to see their loved ones and the need to avoid coronavirus contamination.
Added to this uncertainty are new government restrictions that come into effect on the first day of vacation, Saturday, October 17. A curfew, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., has been established in Ile-de-France, where the virus circulates very actively, as well as in Lille, Grenoble, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Rouen, Toulouse and Saint Etienne. In addition, meetings in the private sphere are now limited to six people across the country. How to reconcile reunion with family and health instructions? This is the equation to solve for Fleur, Anna, Adeline, Muriel, Pauline * and Luc. Like 200 other people, they responded to the call for testimonials launched by franceinfo.
“It’s going to be complicated these holidays”, loose Fleur, 46 years old. This year, her nephews will not be coming to celebrate Halloween in Yvelines with her three children aged 13, 12 and 9. Adeline, 38, hesitates to entrust her 8 and 9-year-old children to her in-laws, but she must quickly find a childcare solution because she and her husband no longer have enough days off. As for Muriel, 67, she doesn’t know if she should “make a cross on All Saints’ Day” and to see neither children nor grandchildren, in the region of Aix-en-Provence.
On the other hand, for Pauline *, there was no question of changing her plans.
“The happiness of finding my sister and my nephew takes precedence over the Covid.”
Her sister and nephew must arrive by train from Marseille to spend a week in Brittany with her, her husband and her two children aged 15 and 17.
Celine’s parents, 46, have found a solution to avoid promiscuity. Arriving from Hérault, they will set up their caravan, bought just after the deconfinement, in front of their daughter’s house, located in the Aix-en-Provence countryside. “We had considered not seeing each other because my father suffers from lung problems. But we miss each other so much. We saw each other only once in July where we had a picnic outside”, tells this mother of two children, 2 and 7 years old.
Denying a grandmother to see her grandchildren is impossible for Fleur. So, even if her mother is in poor health and has trouble respecting barrier gestures, the young woman has accepted that she comes home, but three days instead of a week. A trip that she plans to be complicated “because [sa] mother does not want to bother with constraints “. She is already anticipating the times when she will have to limit the number of kisses given to her children. “The roles are reversed, suddenly I become the reprimanding mother.”
Anna, 40, also has a hard time saying no to her stepfather for the holidays in Corsica. At 79, he is treated with chemotherapy for cancer. “He says his time is running out and he’s determined to see his granddaughters,” Anna is justified. With her husband and her two daughters aged 2 and 8, they are “excited” at the idea of returning to family lands. But Anna is also plagued by guilt. “Even though my stepfather gave us the green light, we are torn by risk.”
Celine is also tormented by concern. Certainly, her parents will eat in their trailer, but she is afraid of infecting her father, who had to be hospitalized in 2018 for the flu despite his vaccination. “It’s terrible, I’m not going to be able to hug my parents”, she laments. What also annoys her is the lack of clear explanations on how to live with this virus on a daily basis.
For the holidays, we have no recipe, no instructions for use, we are not told exactly what it is possible to do or not.
This lack of precise rules gives Adeline the impression of living these holidays with a “sword of Damocles” overhead without knowing what to do. “I would have preferred a ban on leaving the department. At least we would not have asked ourselves the question anymore”, she admits.
All of them will try to live as normally and take as little risk as possible. Adeline is considering having a serological test before leaving to find her mother in the Grenoble region. She planned to wear a mask in all circumstances in the small maternal apartment. “My mom will do whatever she feels like doing with the kids. I think she’ll be careful not to kiss them too much. And then I reassure myself that children are not transmitters.” This year, Adeline’s grandmother will not leave the retirement home to have lunch with them on All Saints’ Day, they will come and see her.
Respect for barrier gestures divides. In the panel of responses to the franceinfo questionnaire, 43% think they do not wear a mask with their family and 21% believe that they will not respect physical distancing. As for the tests, 70% do not intend to do any, neither before nor after returning from vacation.
In Anna’s family, the festivities will be restricted. “Usually, we receive each other for All Saints’ Day, which is very celebrated in Corsica. This time, we will eat at the restaurant, but we will not attend masses.” As for the family of Luc, 54, the traditional family reunion has been reduced to six people: his parents, his three sisters and himself.
“In the house, with my parents who hardly go out since March, we will avoid any hug or hug.”
Everyone tries to find a solution to the lack of social connection. Muriel thinks that the first week of vacation could be a sort of “quarantine” for her grandchildren who will not have classes. “That way, we could see each other the second week because it’s been hard all this time without seeing anyone.”
In the shadow of these autumn holidays hovers a doubt about those of Christmas. “For my in-laws, it’s unthinkable not to see us on All Saints’ Day, notes Anna. They are afraid of a containment and that we will not be able to come back for Christmas. So don’t miss an opportunity! “