And, suddenly, it’s December. It’s Winter Solstice today, and the final weeks of the holiday season are unfolding unlike any other before.
Many of us are in, or about to go into, lockdown. Favourite holiday traditions, family gatherings, shopping and outings have had to be cancelled or rearranged to follow public health protocols and local bylaws. Some will have to resort to seeing family onscreen this holiday season, as many aspects of our lives have been relegated to the safety of the digital space. It’s a huge sacrifice, but we do it to keep each other—and our beleaguered health care system and workers—safe.
I’m now on day 12 of my 14-day pre-holiday self-isolation period, an added safety measure for my Christmas visit with my parents. This means no errands, no laundry room visits, and only leaving my apartment for daily walks (weather permitting). I can easily keep my distance and avoid others along the quiet side streets of my neighbourhood as I take in some fresh air, exercise and, hopefully, some sunshine.
I’m equal parts nervous and excited. It was heartbreaking to miss Thanksgiving, and then my youngest brother’s 50th birthday (the latter I was at least able to Zoom into for a bit)—most of my immediate family live in lower risk regions of the GTHA—and I’d been hoping against hope that we’d be able to see each other for Christmas. Normally, my parents would be in Arizona right now, so I’m grateful for the chance to see them this year. I live alone and have been living a largely stay-at-home lifestyle during the pandemic. I’m very grateful to have my furry four-legged friend Camille for company and cuddles; but the lack of in-person human contact has been challenging—even for an introverted homebody like me. I really, really miss the hugs.
My parents and I have discussed detailed safety protocols for our visit, including for when they pick me up and drive me home (many of these were worked out previously, when my parents hosted small family gatherings in July and September—mostly outdoors, where we were always distancing, wearing masks indoors, and had individual servings of snacks and one person plating food at dinner). My mum was a nurse and my dad is a retired Professional Engineer (chemical)—so they know from health and safety, and disinfecting—and we’re all on board with public health rules and what we need to do to keep each other safe. I acknowledge with gratitude that we’re able to do this; and that we have the privilege of having homes that allow us to keep our distance and stay safe.
As vaccines are starting to roll out, there is hope for the New Year. We just have to persevere and hold on a bit longer. Keep keeping each other, and our health care system and caregivers, safe. It will be a very different kind of holiday this year, but I hope we can all find comfort and joy in keeping with the season, and connect and celebrate with loved ones safely.
Have a safe and happy holiday—and all good things for 2021.