Provincial health orders that came into effect or were extended on Dec. 17 limited what we could do during the Christmas holidays and into 2021.
If you were hoping to watch a hockey game early next year, forget it. Those restrictions continue until mid-January, so don’t expect to see a Bruins, a Big Six or a minor hockey game, or any other team sports games, until then. And even then it might be a long shot.
Boxing Day shopping became a little more difficult now that stores are limited to 50 per cent capacity, and 25 per cent for the larger stores. If you wanted to go to a casino during the holidays, forget about it.
There were no Christmas assemblies this year in the schools, although most schools used the talents of staff and students alike to come up with a creative and entertaining way to finish the pre-Christmas portion of the school year.
Gatherings for Christmas might have been the biggest source of frustration, especially since people could meet for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant, but they were very limited in the number of people they could have in their household.
And most people were spending Christmas holidays at home, rather than out of province.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to enjoy the Christmas holidays.
One of the best ideas for this area at Christmas time in recent years has been the Woodlawn Regional Park’s Festival of Lights. It started small in 2017, with just a handful of businesses and organizations setting up their Christmas displays inside the park’s main campground along the Souris River.
The frigid temperatures didn’t help much that first year, either. There was an extreme cold warning for about a week.
But those who ventured down to the park marvelled at the displays, and it has grown each year since. This year is expected to be a record-setter, and when you consider the number of displays, and the size of the area where they’re located, it’s the perfect event with social distancing in mind.
We had a great event to kick off the Christmas holidays with the Justin LaBrash drive-thru concert organized by Shop Estevan. A lot of people had a great time listening to the music from their vehicles.
A cool idea that Tourism Estevan introduced last month is the Backroads of Estevan Audio Tour. If you’ve ever wanted to know about some of the cool history with our area – some of those hidden gems that won’t be in your guidebooks – then this is a great option.
It’s the sort of activity that’s great for families on a quiet Sunday afternoon, or during the Christmas break. It might not be the perfect activity the day after a large dump of snow, especially if you’re driving a small car, but snow obviously wasn’t a factor the first few days of the Christmas break.
The beautiful weather we did have in the first three weeks of December limited the amount of time we could spend on public outdoor rinks – there are three of them in Estevan – and on the tobogganing hills. The latter activity was obviously a no-go, with very little snow on the ground.
But now that the rinks are open, we can get out and enjoy a skate. For kids looking to keep their hockey skills sharp, they’re a great option.
And on those nice winter days in which the temperature is above zero and the winds are calm, we can go for a walk in the neighbourhood.
So there are options for us to enjoy beyond binge watching the latest hit series on Netflix, or watching endless episodes of cable TV marathons.
The Christmas holiday is typically a time for us to take a break. Not only are the schools shut down for two weeks, but many businesses are closed, too. There usually aren’t many events happening; after all, who would want to plan a big gathering when so many people are out of town, or when our focus isn’t on special events?
Now that so many are staying close to home this Christmas season, there won’t be a big event to go to, such as the Estevan Bruins annual New Year’s home and home with the Weyburn Red Wings that would attract around 1,300 people.
Hopefully everyone is enjoying this Christmas season. It’s a tough one, especially this year. But there are still a few things out there for us to enjoy.