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Dear Diary, Stories of a Long and Lonely Winter

How kids in quarantine are trying to stay warm during one of the most challenging Canadian winters, and it's not just because of the weather...

So if we're heading into winter with less sunshine, less ability to get social interaction, less opportunity for aerobic activity, less job security for some ... I worry we might see depression rates increase. It does feel like we're heading into a long, dark winter.

- Steve Joordens, psychology professor, University of Toronto

The days are getting shorter, the snow is falling harder, and it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is disappearing. Despite the headlines promising vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic will not loosen its grip during this icy winter. Quarantine fatigue paired with seasonal depression will make these dark months seem darker. So what will this mean for the sledders, snowball fighters, and snow angel-ers? How are remote learners and hybrid learners staying positive when every hour not spent online is filled with night?

Returning to their diaries are Cara, Max, Marie, and Advik, four fictional Canadian students whose stories reflect all youth's sentiment. As winter break approaches, bringing on its own form of quarantine, all kids grapple with different circumstances and emotions. Through these stories, we hope that their voicesthe voices of all youtharen't blown away in the biting wind.

Image courtesy of Nicole Kühn, Unsplash.

The following diary entries are works of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Dear Diary,

Today is December Monday 21 (it is the winter soltice, the shortest day of the year!) The sun sets at really early, but Mom says the days will be longer now and that means summer is coming soon. I can’t wait to go to the park, I can’t wait to do monky bars! I hope I did not forget how to do monky bars… Today is the first day of winter break YAY! Me and Mom went driving yesterday and looked at the lights. On Wednesday I’m going to go sledding because it's going to snow! Lucy and Leo are going to come too! And then it’s going to be christmas! I am going to ask Santa for new pencil crayons and a new game for my nintindo swich. I’M SO EXCITED!!! But it was really windy a few days ago and my nose got cold when I was bringing home all my school supplys because my teacher said winter break may go on forever… oh no! I forgot to finish my letter to Santa. I have to mail it before it gets dark, bye Diary!

Cara Weir, Grade 3

Dear Diary,

Sometimes, I want to become a grizzly bear so I can hibernate through winter. Also so I can growl at people when they annoy me … just kidding :) (or not!). I’m glad school is over for now. 2020 has been a ridiculously long year, and it’s still not over. Having a break from school should relax me, but Mr. Ellis gave us science experiments to do during the holidays. Hooray! That was sarcastic by the way. I have to do an experiment to see what happens to snow when you put salt on it, I already know that. Why else would those huge trucks be putting salt on the roads? To make them taste better? I’m in the car writing and Baba is yelling at the salt truck in front of us for being really slow. We’re going to Ucluelet for a few days to see Auntie Jenny and the rest of our family. Baba’s job search in Victoria has been stressful for him (and me too), but I think we’re coping. I’ll do my science experiments when I get back home… is Victoria home? I made a new friend in school, his name is Joshua and we talk about books. He reads Percy Jackson too! So I guess it’s not too bad. I hope 2021 is better than 2020.

Max Zhou, Grade 7

Dear Diary,

FINALLY!!! I am done with all my school work, I am done with all my university supplements and I am done with putting up with Mme. G’s terrible handwriting on the board when writing chemistry notes. I am going to sleep for twenty-eight hours straight, does that count as a coma? Nevermind… We are having a Zoom Haunnuka celebration with Bubbeh, Uncle Aaron and the twins. It is going to be very different shall we say. The COVID-19 restriction for the holidays changed a million times and literally no one knows who we can and can’t meet with and frankly, no one wants to take risks because of all the case spikes, zone changes and fines. So we decided to celebrate online. This week is split between online meetings with Mama’s family for Haunnuka and Zoom calls with Papa’s family for Christmas/gossip sessions with Cecile and Aunt Rhonda where they discuss very unorthodox things while the rest of us sit squeamishly. Holiday season has always been strange for my family. My brothers and I are Blewish so we end up getting double everything. Double foods, double presents and double scoldings for not doing the dishes. This year is even weirder but we’re making it work.

My friends and I are doing an e-gift card Secret Santa (because physical contact is a no but presents are a definite yes) and I’m trying to find something to get Gen. She doesn’t like coffee or clothing which pretty much narrows my options down to a gift card for a perfume store that she’s probably never going to use or Home Hardware. Sigh, such riveting choices… Ugh! Eligah is blasting his League sound effects again, he’s so loud! This is going to be a long break.

Marie Musa, Grade 12

Dear Diary,

I am grateful for the break, even though it’s not going to give me enough time to recover from university stress. I am grateful for the landlord fixing our vent so the AC doesn’t blast in my face in the middle of the night. And I am grateful for caffeine for getting me through finals. This has been a long year and I am looking forward to the next one. My new year's resolutions are to learn a new language (probably Spanish), improve my grades from last year, call Vithun bhai more, take Maya to a nice place, and work on my mental health.

I’m still not sure about my last resolution, I’m not even sure what mental health is exactly. Kaylor’s taking psych and they said it's about stress management and how we feel about ourselves. I didn’t even realise that that was a thing. I hope to learn more about myself in 2021. COVID-19 certainly taught me a lot about the world, I think it’s time to find out what 2020 taught me about myself.

Advik Shah, second-year undergrad


Alberta Prime Times. (2020, October 20)."A long, dark winter": Experts worry about mental health in first full COVID winter. Retrieved from https://www.albertaprimetimes.com/national-lifestyle- news/a-long-dark-winter-experts-worry-about-mental-health-in-first-full-covid-winter-2809431

Article Author: Ria Patel

Article Editor: Olivia Ye