Keeping despair at bay (part six)

This week, there have been successes and failures in my ongoing efforts to chart a smooth course through the emotional minefield of pandemic life.

As a friend wrote in an email a few days ago, it is a challenge to manage “the separation from the easy possibilities of life before the virus.” Especially in this holiday season, when many of us long for the company of people other than those in our bubble, no options seem to present an easy possibility.

The week started off with the rumour of a province-wide lockdown beginning on December 24, which sent us scurrying to rethink, yet again, how we would see kids, grandkids and friends over the holidays. The announcement that the first day of lockdown would be not the 24th but the 26th created a bit of breathing space to cram in a few visits, but not a lot.

A 401 Christmas

When it became obvious that we would not be able to have an in-person get- together with my partner’s son and kids, who live in Hamilton, we decided to load up the car with gifts and treats and meet midway for an exchange. Happily for us, the freezing rain in the forecast did not appear, and we had an easy drive, but it was unsettling, to say the least, to stand on the side of the road just long enough to move our gifts from one car to the other, say a quick and distanced hello and head off in opposite directions.

Creative failures and successes

I have had two significant creative failures in the past few weeks. In the kitchen, the salted caramel turned, in minutes, from an exquisite rich golden liquid into a candy so rock hard it was impossible to cut and would have permanently locked together the jaws of anyone who tried to bite into it. It went into the compost very quickly, although I am not sure that it will ever decompose.

A few years ago, I tried to make a snow globe for a friend who shares my fondness for them. I couldn’t make a proper seal, so water went everywhere. This year, I decided to try again. I watched a few online videos, read some instructions, then carefully and slowly built my little scene and added water, glycerin and sparkles. Attempt one failed because the marine-grade glue I had used to fasten my barnyard scene to the base did not hold in the water. Attempt two failed for more complicated reasons. No snow globes this year, but if anyone has helpful hints, I am game to try again.

Failures notwithstanding, I had some successes, too. My salted caramel sauce turned out perfectly and, after 25 days of shaking, the orange cardamom bitters were beautiful to look at and very tasty when added to a cocktail.

Christmas cards!

Imagine my delight when I opened the mailbox yesterday to find a small card with the return address “Office of the Premier of Ontario.” Inside, I found a card bearing the photo of Doug Ford himself, standing in front of a beautifully decorated tree, beaming at me. Fantastic, I thought: finally, a card not just from a garden-variety politician, but from the Premier himself!

My smile turned to laughter when I opened the card to read: “Pamela: Looking forward to thwarting your socialist agenda in the months and years to come. Doug.”

I don’t know which friend concocted such an excellent practical joke, but I am still chuckling and will keep this card for a long time to come.

Making the best of it

The really warm winter coat I bought last year is going to get a good workout over the next couple of months as we socialize outside.

We fired up our patio heater for our first outdoor cocktail hour of the season. It kept us toasty warm, even without the blankets we had at the ready.

Even though we may be separated from the pre-pandemic easy possibilities of life, there is music. My partner and I watched the Over the Rhine holiday concert a few nights ago, and the lyrics to First Snowfall – written in 2014, but it could surely have been written last week – are still with me:

“But what is this music/That falls on my ear/It’s the very first snowfall/of a very long year.”

One thought on “Keeping despair at bay (part six)

  1. Hope your Christmas was better than expected, and that you both enjoyed the peace and calm of the season. We had to cancel our holiday plans with the kids but managed to enjoy the holidays with card competition and puzzles and eating good food and zoom calls with the family. Looking forward to a much better 2021.
    Off for a long walk this morning, the snow makes it so pretty outside.
    Good health and happiness to you both for the New Year.

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