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WP readers share their stories of coping with COVID-19

Whatever the season, all I need to do is look out my kitchen window or step out my back door, and beauty and wildlife are mine to enjoy. In summer I wake to a chorus of birdsong. Robins and chickadees, finches and nuthatches, woodpeckers and blue jays perch in the trees surrounding our farm home. They sing and chatter as they wait for their turn at the feeder, just a few feet and a pane of glass from my breakfast table.  |  Maureen Pocock photo

The year 2020 will long be remembered for many reasons, the least of which may be the coping skills that were developed.

In September, we asked our readers to share how they were coping with COVID-19 and we received many wonderful and heartwarming stories. From doing more writing, photography, sewing and gardening to learning new skills and reviving old traditions and friendships, our readers shared how they kept putting one foot in front of another to get through a difficult year.

It is our hope that these stories will encourage you as we travel through the winter of 2021.

We planned to make a draw from all of the entries for a hamper of Canadian made products. The following donors were so generous we made two hamper draws.

Thank you so much to the following companies for their donations:

  • Daybreak Mill Organic Grain and Flour Mill of North Portal, Sask., for rolled oats, Sunrise Pancake Mix and Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (www.daybreakmill.com)
  • NorQuin of Saskatoon for Tricolour Quinoa and Golden Quinoa, Boil-in-Bag samples (www.quinoa.com)
  • Prairie Berries of Keeler, Sask., for dried and freeze-dried saskatoon berries and dark chocolate covered berries (info@prairieberries.com)
  • Rampage Coffee of Saskatoon for coffee and coffee flavoured meat rubs (rampagecoffee.com)
  • The Saskatchewan Mustard Development Commission for the following cookbooks — #MyMustard 25 Fun and Fresh Ways to Cook with Canada’s Favourite Spice!, Spread the Mustard Instant Food Bling, Mustard Makeovers & More and 100 Marvellous Recipes for Busy Families, as well as Spread the Mustard wooden spoons (saskmustard.com or spreadthemustard.com.)

The draw winners are Beverly Biggeman and Tom Shoebottom. Congratulations and thank you to all who shared their Coping with COVID stories.

During the summer our yard is a private place, surrounded by mature spruce, aspen and balsam poplar. As the leaves turn golden and begin to fall, it opens up and we see deer, moose, coyotes, and the odd red fox. Geese and ducks feed on the leftovers from harvest, making plans for their long journey south. | Maureen Pocock photo

Christmas music

Beverly Biggerman of Redcliff, Alta., shared this: when others ask, “what do you do to cope with the stress of COVID-19 and its consequences during the holiday season?” I respond with positive comments for the most part. I have had my ups and downs, but, every once in a while, I need a little help.

By Nov. 15, I was ready to fire up the Sirius App in my car and save the Holiday Traditions channel in My Favourites. I love this time of year for all the Christmas music, old and new, and I never tire of it.

When I drive to pick up groceries, or I run across town to pick up a few things in the stores, I sit in the car for a few moments longer just to destress by listening to Holiday Traditions.

The day after the second wave announcement, I was feeling confused about the interpretation of the restrictions, so I got into the car, donned a mask and went to the grocery store to get icing sugar.

The most amazing song came on the radio that I had never heard, Bing Crosby singing “I’ve got plenty to be thankful for”. Eyes to see with, ears to hear with, arms to hug with, lips to kiss with, someone to adore. This song embodies everything I have been thinking about for the last few months.

If I get thinking about what I can’t do, or the privileges I don’t have because of shutdowns, closures, restrictions or bylaws, I can now remind myself of the lyrics in this song. Bing says his “needs are small, I buy ‘em all, at the five and 10 cent store”. Perfect.

Follow that song up with Rosemary Clooney’s Count Your Blessings. It helps me focus on the good things in my life. Even if I am not able to see my friends and family in person, we’ll get through all of this together. “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep”.

Some of us may not be Home for Christmas. It may mean those who are vulnerable are safer because of it.

Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas will be more poignant this year.

A young moose noses around the compost bin and then wanders off to nibble willow branches. | Maureen Pocock photo

If listening to Christmas music for a month prior to Christmas is a female thing or a result of big marketing, so be it. It’s the thing that helps me deal with the feelings that bubble up at this time of year and especially those that have surfaced during this pandemic.

I listen to it in my office, in the kitchen and in the car. I can’t get enough of it this year.

“So, have yourself a merry little Christmas.”

This is a portion of Beverly’s entry. You can read her entire entry here.

Maybe this year we need to listen to Christmas music all year.

Growing more in love

Tom Shoebottom of Englehart, Ont., shared his feelings.

“I am writing to you about our story about living with the virus.

“My wife and I have known each other for 40 years but we have only lived together for the last 10 years. Our relationship has had its ups and downs but in December of 2019 we got married a week before Christmas. We moved and now live in northern Ontario.”

We are “about 500 miles from our relatives, old friends and neighbours. In March, COVID hit and we were isolated for 15 weeks.

“My health wasn’t the best, having been diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer, so only my wife went to the grocery store, drug store and post office. This, I think, kept us safe.

“Of course, we spent a lot of time together. We read, watched TV, talked and did things together. The chores of looking after the dogs, chickens and horses and me fell to her and it kept her busy. Not once did we fight or have cross words in all that time. I grew to love her so much more each day. It was a great feeling. This was how we coped with COVID and it was good.”

Encouraging those who are shut in

Maureen Pocock of Lacombe, Alta., shared that she has always enjoyed writing and that she belongs to a writers group that met outdoors this summer. When the regular Meals on Wheels program was forced to shut down to protect volunteers and recipients this meant that for the recipients the short daily visit with a friendly delivery person would end. The local Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) asked for cards and pictures to be sent out with the now weekly delivered Frozen Meals on Wheels, in hopes of adding a little extra cheer.

Maureen said she “hunted out some old stories and has been writing new ones to pass on to those who need a bright spot in their day. FCSS photocopies my stories and apparently gets positive comments sometimes. And I’m inspired to keep writing.”

The accompanying photos are from one of Maureen Pocock’s stories called “My Favourite Alberta Place.” You can read her entire story on our website, along with other contest entries here.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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