February is often tough. This year, Groundhog Day had a weird resonance after almost a year of day after day being almost the same.
Every year Valentine’s Day is always difficult for those without a significant other, for those who have lost their loved ones and, especially, for those unable to navigate an exit from an abusive relationship. We are unfortunately witnessing a parallel pandemic of domestic violence.
I never liked Valentine’s Day. As I have said before, holidays that seem to have originated with greeting card companies were the days my sister and I were conscripted into the flower shop. I remember those cranky phone calls as the store was closing on Feb. 14 — some harried partner calling at 6 p.m. to demand a dozen red roses which we had run out of days before. In our home, we love flowers every week!
This year, I recommend we plan a less romantic approach to Valentine’s.
Throughout COVID-19 our posters of gratitude often “hearted” our frontline workers, nurses, doctors, paramedics, personal support workers, those working in grocery stores and those who drive the trucks to bring food to our communities.
We are all working hard to show our love to our local shops and restaurants.
We are checking in on our neighbours and those we know are struggling with health and mental health issues. We want them to know they are loved.
Last week, during #BellLetsTalk, we continued in our attempt to remove the stigma around mental health. The courage and candour of champions like Bob Rae, our ambassador to the United Nations, make it easier to for us to talk openly about anxiety, depression and therapy. Portals like Wellness Together provide all Canadians with a first step to getting help and knowing that they aren’t alone.
COVID-19 has tested all of us, and our relationships. Being at home trying to work is not easy. Children are having trouble coping without their friends and school. COVID-19 has stressed our small businesses. For too many front-line workers their exemplary energy and dedication are being strained during this unprecedented marathon.
Gratitude during pandemic
But just as we are grateful for those rare but wonderful crisp February days with the brilliant sun shining down on us, we are grateful for the prospect of all residents in our long-term care residences being vaccinated soon, and then through the priority groups until we are all protected against this deadly virus.
We are grateful for the sound advice of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, who advised that we order vaccines from seven different companies in order to ensure adequate supply, recognizing that there was risk in relying only on one or two producers.
We are grateful for all those working in all areas of health care as they prepare to become the army of immunizers who will get these vaccines into our arms.
From the beginning of this pandemic, our government has been there to replace income, subsidize wages and rent for businesses and top up the support for seniors. Our government will continue to be there with you.
In the meantime, we cannot let up on our resolve to reduce the transmission of this virus, especially with the risk of the increased transmissibility of the new variants.
We express our love and respect for one another by staying home whenever we can, and wearing a mask and maintaining a physical distance when we’re out.
As we approach Family Day 2021, I am reminded that here in Toronto-St.Paul’s, more than half of the households have a person living alone. Let’s reach out and redefine family.
We’re in this together.