How I plan to get through winter

How about you?

Welcome to At The End Of The Day. I’m Hannah Sung and I write this newsletter to process daily news and get perspective on what matters most in life -- caring for family, friends, ourselves and our communities.

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I tried to watch live coverage of yesterday’s Speech from the Throne but #pandemiclife. I was juggling too much plus it seemed like live coverage was just three hours of a man in a mask and old-timey hat briskly banging at a tall wooden door forever. (Is he still there, banging?). [1]

Let me in.

Later, when I managed to tune in to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rare live, primetime address to the nation, instead of getting immediate guidance or hope, it felt like we’d wandered into an election debate by accident (really? Aren’t we dealing with enough right now? Sorry, B.C.!)

So for now, I’m concentrating on my own actions.

All our daily actions are what make up this thing we call culture. In this pandemic, policies are super-important. But culture is too. [2]

Culture is what’s going to be our undoing, if we let it (“I must have my wedding! Oops, I just unthinkingly embraced and fist-bumped all my guests!”). 

But culture could also be the thing that saves us. For example, at first, masks felt weird but now I truly love them.

Doing school drop-off like

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that during this crucial window, our individual actions may dictate whether it’s possible to avoid another lockdown.

No matter how much COVID-19 information is flying at us, we all know the basics and they absolutely have not changed. Wear a mask, keep your distance, wash hands. And now that we know more about the airborne transmission of this coronavirus, we can add ventilation as key, plus staying outdoors when speaking with others (or not speaking at all). [3]

When it comes to facing down winter, I’d rather be proactive than react. And I want to preserve what emotional strength I have right now, like you would summer fruit to make jam. I want to shove the last of my summertime equilibrium into a mason jar and shtuck! open it up in late November or early February when who knows how we’ll all be feeling.

This is how I’m trying to do that:

  • Preparing to live more outdoors. I bought a fire pit. And I will joust anyone for a sold-out patio heater. I dream of kitting out my yard with more string lights and sitting in a sleeping bag in a camping chair, just so I can see a friend for the occasional hot toddy this winter. Who knows, if it goes well, watch me invite my folks for Christmas that way.

Just add physical distancing and a turkey. Boom, Christmas dinner

  • Prepare for more living indoors. I’m no Martha Stewart. I have piles of stuff that become furniture by default. But I want our home to suit the way we live now. This winter we won’t be having guests. I dream of covering our entire living room floor with cushions (I’ll never have to clean up another sofa fort if the living room can simply be a sofa fort). And I want a deep freezer because I feel compelled to make 5000 soups and lasagnas to get us through days when work and school and life will be tough. I know we won’t purchase our way out of this pandemic and not everyone can afford to buy these things so easy-breezy. But I’m letting go of the way we used to live in our space and trying to make the best of the way I want to live moving forward.

  • New family high fives. Birthday parties, soccer league, Korean classes and ballet are all a thing of the past. It’s just going to be the four of us, staring at each other all winter long. Help! I am taking any and all suggestions of board games and clever routines that parents, cleverer than I, are willing to share.

  • Learning new things together. I previously outsourced the children’s learning (see above). But if I can just get myself a pair of tap shoes, my 6-year-old has a pair and I think I’m ready for us to learn together. Or laugh maniacally at the attempt. This is what YouTube is for, right?

  • Handling my business. I’ll be honest. I’m having a tough time with this one. I’m up to my eyeballs in work. There are ways in which we cling to the old ways of life. Work is a huge one for me. But I’m going to need to let go and let my priorities (family and health, for starters) truly rise to the top. I don’t want to be a “women leaving the workforce” statistic. [4] But I am letting go of the idea that I can operate at full capacity during this pandemic. We can’t. We have new stressors and navigating change, in and of itself, is work. We aren’t our productivity or our paycheques. We’re more than that. We shouldn’t hold ourselves to standards that don’t serve us and in whatever ways we can, we should cut others some slack, too. This is a super-privileged position to take. I know it doesn’t apply to those who have essential jobs or financial pressures and this is where policy should absolutely come in, for example, with a universal basic income. But in the meantime, I’m letting go of the commitments that I can.

  • Maintain my emotional immune system. I’m trying to move my body every day and build in some book-reading that is for fun, not work so I can more capably fight off the pressure and bad vibes of pandemic life.

And there’s one more thing I hope to prioritize above all this winter: Get through this pandemic by supporting others.

Life is tough with COVID-19 but our family has more than we need -- more food, more stuff, more love (never enough time but I’m working on that). I’m going to go back to the lessons learned from spring lockdown and try to recreate that feeling of wonder that comes from organizing, mutual aid, and learning new connections and ways of helping people in our own neighbourhoods.

I recently listened to a podcast episode about the way we are wired to cope with isolation (it’s not good) and how life-giving it can be to help. [5]

Asking people to help us can help them. Helping gives people a sense of purpose. Note: I will never again receive a boatload Costco delivery from my parents like, “Oh you shouldn’t have.”

How else are we going to get through winter if not by keeping each other warm?

Hit reply to let me know: What are you doing to prepare for this fall and winter, for yourself, your family or your community?

I need ideas for what I should be doing now, so that the next few months might be that much better.

Thank you for reading,


p.s. If you like what you’re reading, let me know by hitting the heart at the bottom. Thank you!


[1] Governor General Julie Payette's 2020 Throne Speech: Full transcript, Maclean’s

[2] When culture clashes with COVID-19, MIT News

[3] Wear your mask and stop talking, The Atlantic

[4] The moms are not alright, The Conversation

[5] Coronavirus Fact vs. Fiction: Isolation and the Brain

On the importance of ventilation and one easy way to achieve it, Want to buy schools more time? Open the windows, Washington Post

Suggestions for ways to give back:

Anduhyaun shelter for Toronto Indigenous women and transitional housing

The People’s Pantry gives free food to Torontonians experiencing food insecurity, Huffington Post

Teacher starts Love Masks initiative to collect reusable masks for Toronto students in need, CTV News

Credit: James Wheeler, Unsplash