The nights are getting colder and the mornings welcome us with a little layer of snow on the ground. Sadly, not everyone can experience the winter feels these holidays. A bunch of people tested positive for Covid-19 and have to spend their days inside. This year we’re not talking about a Christmas miracle, but about a Christmas quarantine. Students tell us how they’ll be spending their Christmas.
Kylie Vanderhulst (22) is not only spending Christmas in quarantine but she’s also forced to celebrate her 22nd birthday in her room. ‘Last Friday I suddenly tested positive which means I have to be quarantined until December 26, the day after Christmas’, she says.
Kylie continues: ‘I’m so sad because it’s also my birthday, so I’m missing out on both. The past few days have been the longest days of the year, literally and figuratively. Since Christmas is just one day before my quarantine ends I am going to do a self-test and hope it will be negative. This way I can still celebrate Christmas with my family. Our original Christmas party with my entire family has been postponed.’
Although she can’t celebrate Christmas the way she planned, Kylie still tries to get the holiday vibes in her room. She explains: ‘I have some Christmas lights next to my bed. They will hopefully give me some type of Christmas feeling. I can’t do much more, since I really have to stay in my room for 10 days. I wish I could go bake cookies or dress my dog up as Santa, but my parents really locked me up. I did go for a sneaky walk outside, but this is actually the perfect opportunity to finish all the deadlines.’
Kylie is not the only one that’ll be staying inside this Christmas. Zoë El Mhaned (23) is quarantining as well. ‘I was the last one in my family to get the virus. At first, I obviously wasn’t thrilled about quarantining. After a few days I got used to it again and actually saw the benefits of staying inside’, she says. ‘Now I can focus on school because I have a million deadlines but I also started reading more.’
‘School isn’t everything I’m focussed on though. I made some Christmas presents for the people around me. I’m stuck inside until the 27th of December but once I can go out again, the first thing I’m going to do is stop by my Chiro and bring them their presents. I’ll be their personal Santa Claus.’
Zoë isn’t celebrating Christmas in an extremely festive way, but she is going to have a cosy night in. She explains: ‘I hung lights and I’m going to pull out my most comfortable pyjamas, enjoy my all-time favourite Christmas movie, The Grinch, whilst drinking some hot chocolate milk. It’s going to be a night of relaxing and not stressing out about school, for once.’
Now let’s look at how the rest of the world is doing. Marie Haroon (24) is from Canada and just like Kylie and Zoë, she tested positive for Corona. ‘The days in quarantine haven’t been too bad’, she says. ‘There are ups and downs but my symptoms are mild and I’m lucky enough not to be worried at all about my health, which is a good start compared to other people. On the other hand, I find it very hard emotionally to be away from my family for the Holidays.’
Some people hang extra festive lights but others take everything down. Marie says: ‘I didn’t decorate my apartment. I mostly wanted to forget about Christmas when I learned that I tested positive. I think being reminded about it every day would have made it worse.’
Marie isn’t going to be alone this Christmas though: ‘one of my best friends also has Covid so we’re quarantining together. We’re going to bake cookies and watch Christmas movies. I also have a facetime call with many friends from my hometown and my family. That’ll keep my Christmas feelings in check until I get to see them on the 27th. Then my family and I are going to celebrate it in person. I’m very happy that I’ll be able to go home while the decorations and Christmas trees are still there.’
The entire country of Canada is usually lit up from the Christmas lights of the markets and the massive trees, but this year the ambience isn’t quite right. ‘There usually is a big Christmas atmosphere in Canada bit this year is very different, Marie explains. ‘The cases have increased drastically in the past to weeks. There are a lot of new distanciation measures and a lot of Christmas celebrations have been cancelled. Everybody feels worried about what January holds. It really feels like we’re reliving 2020 over again.’
When in quarantine, the day you’re looking forward to the most is when you can go outside again. ‘On the day I’ll be out of quarantine, I’m going to meet with two of my friends and sleigh down Mount Royal! It’s a Christmas thing we do a lot here in Montreal’, Marie says. It wasn’t all bad though: ‘‘being quarantined made me realize that I have amazing friends. They mailed me surprises, called me, did my groceries and so much more. I’m very lucky for that.’
Text: Zoë Van Schooten Final edit: Andrei Stiru
Image: ©Zoë Van Schooten