Susan D in Ottawa, Canada: Christmas past – COVID not yet past

December 30

Our COVID Christmas was – 

Christmas tree for two with presents for two, which magically appeared after the photo was taken,

Christmas breakfast for two,

Christmas lunch for two and

Christmas dinner for two.

This number was not normal; it felt like a fake Christmas, although fake is a word we hear so often it almost feels normal.  Daughter and family were in Florida enjoying being together, but not enjoying the COVID case escalation there.  We two, at home in Ottawa are now going into another provincial lockdown with an escalation of case numbers in the province, although not a patch on the numbers in Florida.

The Monday before Christmas, the Premier announced a temporary lockdown to be imposed province wide as of the day after Christmas – would not much of the damage have been done by then?  However, given the experience after Thanksgiving, it did not take much thought to raise worries about the potential outcome of Christmas travel and gatherings.  We had noted in the Fall a temporary structure being built beside the Emergency wing of the hospital, and the increasing frequency of the emergency helicopter flying overhead en route to the helipad.  The Ontario Hospital Association issued a very stern letter warning that hospital resources might not be adequate if there was a surge in cases.  Presumably government listened, as it acted, announcing the lockdown of between 14 and 28 days, depending on the region.  Our mayor was infuriated that Ottawa should be included in the longest lockdown since we had behaved well after an earlier spike in case numbers, being a city of civil servants used to taking and obeying orders.  He complained and the Premier responded, criticizing what he labelled a mere political reaction.

So here we are again, case numbers climbing up and restrictions coming down on us:

Indoors – no organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household;

Outdoors – limit of 10 people;

Restaurants, bars, meeting and event spaces – take out, drive through and delivery permitted, including alcohol;

Sports, exercise classes and gyms closed, but outdoor skating and skiing permitted;

Places of worship – 10 people indoors or outdoors;

Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; indoor cinemas; performing arts centres and venues, cinemas closed;

Retail generally permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only;

Supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, other retailers selling groceries, beer and wine and liquor stores, pharmacies and safety supply stores permitted to be open for in-person shopping permitted with restrictions.

Schooling will be remote for elementary students until 11 January, for secondary students and university students until 25 January.

All eyes are fixed of the vaccine approvals and the schedules for vaccinations!

Considering the weather – pathetic fallacy

Christmas Eve unleashed an uncontrolled outburst by the weather, with lashing rains making tears run down the windows and winds howling a lament. The weather has seemed strangely attuned to our predicaments this year.  In the early Fall we had the cold snap that I described earlier, a reminder to get prepared for the long hard Canadian winter to come, with even more deprivation as the cold drives us inside.  But then there was a reprieve.  Temperatures rose to acceptable levels for summer right after the fractious American election, giving us a sense of euphoria about the outcome of the election of course, but also the ability to take the woollen things off again.  The trees that had begun to turn colour stopped the process and held on to their leaves well into the Fall.  Then gradually, gently, temperatures have descended with only a minor snowfall every now and then, followed by some sunny days warm enough to melt most of the snow. There has been none of the cold that makes any uncovered body parts cry out in agony or winds that blow, stinging and biting into faces and causing eyes to weep uncontrollably.  Rather, it feels as though the weather is saying “there, there, it’s not so bad – be strong, behave and you will get through this.  I am doing my part by not tormenting you too much.” 

The severe cold will come, but at least there will be less of it this winter.

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