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For some reason, I can barely remember last Christmas. 

The only memory I’ve seemed to retain from the past few holiday seasons is New Year’s Eve of 2019. 

I remember that night perfectly — I was trying to make a peppermint tea, and I burnt my thumb on the hot water I was boiling. 

My family and I did a New Yorker puzzle together while watching the night’s festivities on TV, and, like most years, I was the only one who made it to the ball drop at midnight (the rest of my family went to bed early). 

I remember them saying on the TV that a million people were in Times Square to celebrate the new year. Packed in like sardines. Hugging, singing, and laughing at the cameras. Sharing their first kiss of the new year with their significant other. 

It almost seems like a dream now. I think I would be alarmed at seeing anything of the sort on live television these days. It would be a shock for any of us. 

I’ve clung on to the memory of that night, since it was one of the last times a holiday felt somewhat normal. 

The past two years of the pandemic have made what was normal for the majority of our lives seem foreign to us. 

Like many of you, I haven’t been in a real classroom since March of last year. I haven’t been on vacation, or on the study abroad term I’d always dreamed of. I haven’t seen friends, or met as many new ones as I thought I might have. I’ve been tired, stressed, and worried about my health and the health of those around me. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that in the grand scheme of things in regards to the damage this pandemic has done, I’m extremely lucky. But I can’t help but feel a sort of sadness around the holidays now. It’s melancholic; reflective. I feel like I have to distinguish between a time before COVID-19 and a time after. I know many of my friends feel the same.

While the vaccine has allowed for a bit of a return to normalcy (movies, restaurants, etc.), it’s hard not to miss the times in life where we could share smiles with strangers, visit our grandparents without worrying, and dance together freely at a New Year’s Eve party. On the positive side, however, the pandemic has made me appreciate those moments of the past so much more. 

I know we’ll make it through this holiday season, and enjoy it in every way we can. I’m optimistic about the future and I think we all have reason to be. Better days are coming.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season, and all the best for the new year!

Emma Johnston

Waterloo '22

Hi! My name is Emma, and I am completing my Bachelor of Arts in English Rhetoric, Media and Professional Communication at the University of Waterloo. I love journaling, peanut M&Ms, and collecting fashion magazines from around the world!
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