We will look back on this holiday season as one that tested us. But we are marvelous human beings who can transcend challenges. This year has shown that to us – dedicated front-line workers, many acts of kindness to counteract the people who can’t think in terms of the greater good, a massive global effort to make vaccines.
This season, be compassionate to yourself and others. According to neuroscientist Daniel Levin, generosity, compassion and gratitude actually change our brains, including those parts that govern our own immune systems.
My entire province is going into lockdown on Boxing Day for several weeks to curb the rising number of Covid cases that are pushing our hospital system to its limits. Today I sent my hubby over to our senior aunt’s with a box full of Christmas food – it’s a safe way to share a bit of the holiday with her and let her know she’s cared for even if we all can’t be together.
Tonight we’ll eat the same food ourselves, watch Disney’s A Christmas Carol, and snuggle in as a big winter storm heads our way tonight. For the next few weeks, we’ll spend our time at home as peacefully and wisely as we can, and we’ll make a point of appreciating what we do have.
I grew up in northern Ontario where storms were always extreme. It didn’t just rain, it came down in torrents so heavy that my dad would often have to pull our car over to the side of the road to wait for the storm to clear. Fogs were similarly dense. Snow was always heavy and could block the roads for days, and keep us trapped inside our farmhouse with our wood stove and wood-burning furnace, but my parents always made sure we were well-stocked with food and essentials. Survival meant making the best of things, and I grew up loving storms for that feeling of hunkering down inside, safe and snug.
For this holiday season, I wish all of you a sense of snuggling in to wait out the pandemic storm.
Be kind to yourself and others, and do simple things of comfort and peace.
Light candles – the real kind, because fire has represented comfort and safety ever since our early days living in caves and we feel its cultural influence even today.
Do something different – eat a different meal, read a new book – to combat cabin fever, and enjoy the traditions that give you a sense of stability.
Give yourself an emotional break – watch shows that make you smile, play games, take walks, let the news run along without you from time to time.
I wish everyone all the serenity and joy you are able to find this year. Remember that this is a season of hope, and of light in the darkness. Keep looking toward the light.
After my previous post about hurricanes and earthquakes, you
might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at that statement, but I grew up with
storms, and I’ve always enjoyed both the drama and the feeling of being safely
tucked inside my house.
As I write this post, there’s a fabulous summer thunderstorm
raging around our community. The skies are dark, the rain is sheeting across
the streets, and thunder is rattling the windows of our house.
Tornado warnings have been posted for parts of Ontario, and
even though there isn’t one where I live, our area is prone to them and I have
my Red Cross Alerts app updated to my current location.
The week that I’m writing this has been brutally hot and
humid. I don’t do well under those conditions, and even though I’ve been hiding
inside with the air conditioning, watching the televised drama of the Open Golf
Championship, I’ve had a pounding migraine for three days. Today has been the
worst – although my medications have blanketed the pain for now, I can feel it
lurking like a monster waiting to pounce.
Since the storm hit, though, the pain has eased and the nausea has dissipated, which is often the case for migraine people – see, another reason to love storms!
Thunderstorms give me an excuse to light candles – just in
case the power should go out, you understand. I’m sipping some light Keemun tea
while I eat a few crackers with goat cheese and tomato slices to keep my
(On a side note, did you know that acidic or tart food is
one of the best things to combat nausea? I learned this in Egypt from one of
the staff in our hotel in Cairo, and while I wouldn’t recommend eating one of
their very bitter lemons as I was told to do at the time, whenever I fly I always
have a glass of tomato juice to ward off airplane sickness.)
We actually have a transformer on our street, and it has blown impressively a few times, plunging our entire neighbourhood into darkness until the city crews can fix it, so I do have reasonable cause to take lighting precautions.
My early childhood took place in Windsor, Ontario, which at the time had some deep (for a child) storm gutters, and after a good rain my mother would let me take my shoes off and wade in them. I could spend hours splashing about happily – cheap entertainment, and my mom had only to look out the door from time to time to see that I was okay.
When I was five we moved to northern Ontario, where the
weather is extreme and spectacular. I can recall my dad having to pull the
truck over to the side of the road many times when either fog blanketed the car
or rain was falling so heavily that we quite literally couldn’t see anything
beyond the front bumper. Our farm included a hill where the passing gravel road
curved up and around, and the road surface could turn into a river of muck in
minutes – we would see truckers try to make it up that hill, lose traction and
slide backward to the flat part. My parents would invite them in for some hot
coffee while they waited out the storm.
Winters meant several feet of snow on the ground consistently
from November to March or April. Plows would come by from time to time, but all
that snow had to be pushed aside somewhere, usually into ten-foot high drifts
at the end of our long driveway. Temperatures could plummet far below zero – I remember
a record-setting -42oF on one day, when no one went outside if at all
possible (fortunately we didn’t have any farm animals to be concerned about,
but I’m not sure what friends of ours did with their cows, horses and chickens).
Spring thaw was a relief, but it could be treacherous as all
of that deep snow melted. A trip to town to buy groceries could be fine on the
way in but impassable a couple of hours later if one of the small lakes along
the roadside flooded over. I remember our parents taking my brother and me out
into the bush for maple sugaring one weekend. The path through the woods
crossed a fresh, cold rivulet of water on our way to the site. We spent several
hours there watching the trees being tapped and the sap being boiled down in
huge vats. By the time we decided to call it a day, though, the rivulet had
turned into a rushing stream and my dad had to carry me safely to the other
By the time we moved back to southern Ontario the year I turned eight, my love of dramatic weather had become ingrained, which has turned out to be a good thing in light of the strange relationship my hubby and I have with it.
We almost got hit by lightning on a golf course once while we were still dating – we were being careful, waiting for the stormy weather to recede by the time we set out on the back nine. Thunder was rumbling faintly far in the distance when a lightning flash out of nowhere speared the stand of trees on the fringe of the hole we were playing. We instantly flattened ourselves on the ground for at least a minute and then grabbed our carts and fled back to the clubhouse as fast as we could.
Our first dating anniversary was celebrated during an unexpected blizzard. We’d just been seated at the restaurant when the power went out. A bottle of champagne held the fort while the management fired up an old wood-burning stove to cook everyone’s meals. Probably the most entertaining parts were visiting the bathrooms by the light of kerosene lamps as all that champagne got metabolized. The power came back on two hours later just as we were finishing our meal.
The list of our weather events is long and distinguished, so
perhaps the universe is giving me treats from time to time.
The storm has ended. It’s still comfortably overcast outside, though – glaring sun and a migraine don’t go well together – and the heat has let up a little, with a nice breeze riffling through the trees. My headache is gone, at least for the time being, and I’m enjoying the respite however long it lasts.
I think I might go and make some dinner. Meanwhile, the candles are still flickering away in their holders around the house, because, well, you just never know…