Letter: We’re all in this together – even when we have to be apart

Photo submitted by Mona Rahman.

The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Kingstonist.

We are all in this together.

It has become the mantra of the COVID-19 pandemic, recited by every level of government, from the top down. And it is true. We can only overcome this together, with every single one of us doing our individual part. But, as we head into what is known as the “holiday” season, the reactions we hear seem to reflect that ‘we are all in this together’ doesn’t necessarily apply to ALL of us.

There is a rising wave of complaints arising to the recommendation that this holiday season, people stay with their household and not have the regular get-togethers with extended family and friends. Friends we can do but how can I not visit my parents, my grandparents? How can it be Christmas without family? For all of us, holidays means family, as they should.  However, in truly caring for our families, particularly our elderly relatives, we need to start focusing on each other and keeping each other safe. ‘We are all in this together’ means all of us, not just certain factions of the community. We have seen quite clearly, thanks to Dr. Moore’s updates, how the infection of one person can all too quickly spiral into twenty in a matter of days. After months of having little to no cases, we are now near 100 active cases with two people in the ICU. The fact that we haven’t been worse is thanks to an amazing team of Public Health workers who are diligently working to keep us all safe through contact tracing, advising protocols of self-isolation, and responsible individuals who comply with self-isolation.

Yes, it will be difficult not getting together with family and friends for Christmas and Hanukkah. But, let me tell you from our own experience, it can be done and, with a little creativity, it can be one that is fun for the kids, full of devotions and closeness to family and friends. You just have to be innovative. On our holidays we dressed up, listened to an online sermon, prayed together as a family. We took pictures, and had visitors come by to the driveway where we passed along plates of treats to their cars. We also made plates of treats to drop off at houses of our elders. Some larger communities held drive-thru festivities with treats for the kids and entertainment that families watched from their cars. The Muslim Association of Canada held an online event with various entertainment acts, talks, and interactive games which were accessible across the nation. But the best part was the Zoom calls we had with friends and family around the world, particularly with people whom we hadn’t talked to for ages because everyone tends to be so busy with their lives. This year we rekindled more connections.

In reflecting on holiday traditions, I was also reminded of my parents, who came to a new country and a new community with very few Muslims, even fewer Bangladeshis and had to celebrate holidays in a manner very different from what their traditions were. They made new traditions in this new community and for their young families. In the 1970s, communication with our relatives was through letters, as very few of them had telephones in their homes. How lucky are we in this 21st century, the era of virtual communication, that we can see and talk to people in real time almost anywhere in the world? Take advantage of these resources and utilize them to forge a new way to celebrate at this time when we need to be apart.

Though we need to physically distance, we can still connect our hearts… and perhaps next year, we can see those whom we miss now, rather than risk losing them to this disease.

We are ALL in this together.

Mona Rahman
Kingston resident

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