Santa brings gifts to children everywhere. Each year, British parents tell their children that they will only receive presents if they have been good. In normal times, being ‘good’ means working hard at school and helping out at home. This year, it has meant not hugging granny and skipping school to protect the NHS.  Santa no longer decides who has been naughty and who has been nice; instead the government tells us whether our behaviour deserves a reward.

Every festive season, Public Health England attempts to curtail our consumption of fatty foods, alcohol and cakes. This year, PHE are firmly in charge of Christmas itself. If anyone is caught feasting, singing or displaying any merriment, they will ban Christmas altogether. The happy-go-lucky Father Christmas has been morphed into a bad tempered patriarch who loathes family gatherings and avoids his elderly relatives. This is the New Normal Santa and here is his Guide to Christmas:

Letter to Santa

Due to age and obesity, Santa has been deemed ‘at risk’ and has been shielding with a support bubble of elves for most of the year. As part of his mission to ‘save Christmas’, Boris Johnson is rumoured to have let Saint Nick jump the queue for a vaccine.

Nevertheless, letters sent to Santa are screened for pathogens by elves retrained as Covid wardens. Non lick envelopes are requested wherever possible.

Santa has binned all requests for board games (SAGE stipulates that sharing dice and cards could be lethal). Likewise balls and equipment for team sports have been scrupulously crossed off lists. Father Christmas is keeping a close eye on the next round of government regulations in case they include a quota for the number of presents allowed per household.

Santa’s visit

Santa used to love visiting poorly children in hospital and old people in care homes. This year, he fears becoming known as Santa The Super Spreader, St. Nicholas of Covid or Father Christ-All-Mighty Keep Your Distance.

Santa may land his sleigh on your roof, but he won’t venture down your chimney. Touching stockings or consuming mince pies prepared by those outside his bubble is strictly forbidden. However, it is hoped that the elfish ‘Matt Hancock’ is left out for Santa to take with him back to the North pole. He can make up for his appalling behaviour by packing presents for next year’s Christmas.

Sing your heart out

Christmas carols can no longer be sung in church, on the streets or door-to-door. Your family bubble is encouraged to close the doors, stand looking away from each other and sing “All I want for Christmas … is you”. Variants on this theme are being heard across the land. These include “All I want for Christmas is a vaccination, so that I can have a bloody normal life again”.

Christmas dinner

Covid-safe Christmas dinners should be eaten outdoors. However, SAGE’s detailed research has discovered that Christmas is taking place in the middle of winter this year. They have produced a graph that clearly demonstrates a high correlation with cold weather and the winter months. It is, therefore, advised that family members stay indoors, but eat their own dinner in a different room in the house. Dinner guests can stay in communication via WhatsApp, Zoom or Walkie Talkies.


Every Christmas there is a ‘must have’ gift. This year, it is the Lateral Flow Covid Test, which gives a quick result and enables you to go out. If you have a friendly health service worker, they may have some spare.

Photoshopped vaccination certificates are expected to be next year’s hot present.

Round robin family letters

Some families used to add to round robin letters to their Christmas cards, detailing the activities and achievements of their family members. However, this year, no-one has been bungee jumping in Nepal, launched a new business or built a school in Tanzania, during their gap year. Letters can simply be replaced blank postcards stamped with the word ‘Watched Netflix’, ‘Lost Job’ or ‘Quietly Gone Mad’.

Father Christmas was invented after the English civil war, to bring back celebration, feasting and the joys of life. After years of Puritan rule, he was the life-affirming embodiment of merriment in the depths of miserable winter. The New Puritans of Public Health England have finally had their revenge. Can we have Christmas back now please?