By Sally Barnes
This year, you can’t help feel like the Grinch has stolen Christmas and I am grateful to our warm-hearted neighbours and business owners who are stringing lights and decorations to help brighten our lives.
In earlier years, I would have finished much of my Christmas shopping by now and we’d be getting ready to stock the larder, plug in the outside lights, and get together with family, neighbours and friends. I’m afraid that whatever I am about to accomplish this year will be more out of guilt and obligation than holiday spirit.
Pity the poor politicians and public health officials with the thankless task of telling us to stay home, discourage guests, and limit our shopping in the struggle to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. The abuse they are taking is beyond the pale.
Luckily, we live in a comparatively low-level virus zone (at the moment anyway) and restrictions are quite limited. I did experience momentary panic earlier this week, however, when I approached two LCBO outlets in different parts of the city and found them both locked up tighter than a drum. I can’t describe the relief when I learned that this is a pandemic measure and only happens on Mondays.
In some virus “hot spots” in Canada, shopping is being limited to essential items only. Televisions, for example, are among items declared non-essential. Tell that to the Mom cooped up with a bunch of hyper kids and/or a grumpy husband and the TV gives up the ghost and takes the cartoons and sports with it. Deprive us of the final episodes of some of our favourite series (The Crown for example) and people will become as unhinged as the current leader of the free world.
Sadly, for too many, Netflix has overtaken the role romance used to play in happier times. It’s no wonder that therapists and divorce lawyers are experiencing a thriving business these days with files piling up on their desks as the strains of the pandemic take their toll on relationships.
One jurisdiction which has clothing on its non-essential list prompted a male customer to show his disgust by showing up at a big box store wearing only his skivvies. The performance became an instant social media hit for shoppers craving an outlet for their frustrations.
In our northern climes this clothing issue is especially critical. Drafters of the non-essential list of goods obviously did not consider the legions of Canadian seniors who in normal times have relocated by now to southern beaches and golf courses.
Stuck here in 2020, these golden oldies find themselves without winter coats and various accessories that keep the rest of us from freezing to death up here in the Great White North.
With clipped wings, many of these snowbirds also lack winter tires and I suspect that could present a hazard for the rest of us. The last time these oldsters drove in snow they were all young and thin and had their own teeth and weren’t on the growing waiting list for cataract surgery and various other tests and treatments.
The age-old question about “what to wear” this holiday season is no problem in 2020. Fashionistas will find themselves all dressed up and nowhere to go. The hottest fashion accessory this year is a selection of holiday masks—Santa Claus and elves, mistletoe and holly, and basic red plaid. Free shipping. Order now and get the second one free! However, with Canada Post warning about probable delays owing to the volume of online shopping, you might not get delivery until Easter.
The masks can be coordinated with the sweat pants and other athletic attire that has become the new staple for toddlers to old codgers alike as we work and live from the safety and comfort and seclusion of our homes.
Even Santa Claus is going virtual this year. The traditional milk glass and cookie plate left empty on the kitchen table Christmas morning could cause family hysteria when it becomes apparent that someone outside their bubble and possibly from Toronto has visited the premises overnight.
“Why is Santa not wearing a mask?” is certain to be added to the questions little kids are asking today’s parents.
Our panels of pandemic experts won’t be of much help answering that one. Flatten the curvers/mask advocates will quote science to assure us Santa is immune to the virus. Some are bound to disagree.
There are those who will demand Santa self-isolate at the North Pole and avoid travel of any kind. Others will be vehement that he keeps those reindeer working around the clock because that’s best for the eventual recovery of our economy.
In short, Merry Christmas won’t have the same ring to it this year—no matter how hard we try.
It isn’t the Grinch who has stolen Christmas.
It’s the damned virus that is trying to ruin everything…including my daily tipple of a glass of wine after the dog walk and before dinner.
Sally Barnes has enjoyed a distinguished career as a writer, journalist and author. Her work has been recognized in a number of ways, including receiving a Southam Fellowship in Journalism at Massey College at the University of Toronto. A self-confessed political junkie, she has worked in the back-rooms for several Ontario premiers. In addition to a number of other community contributions, Sally Barnes served a term as president of the Ontario Council on the Status of Women. She is a former business colleague of Doppler’s Hugh Mackenzie and lives in Kingston, Ontario. You can find her online at sallybarnesauthor.com
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