Rockin’ Around the Omicron Variant
Students share how the rising variant affected their holiday break

Whatever

By Sherene Almjawer

On the first Thursday of the holidays, my mom and I strolled around IKEA throwing little trinkets into our cart, followed by a munching session of the plant-based meatballs in the café. The man who sat behind us took off his mask and coughed into his hand. It felt wrong.

On Tuesday, my best friend came over. We ordered burgers and re-watched Thor: Ragnarok. We laughed, talked, and planned the next time we wanted to meet. It felt wrong.

The following Monday, I went out to eat ramen with a family friend. A mere slim plastic divider separated us from the group sitting next to us. They shouted at the waitress when she asked to see their vaccination proof. It felt wrong.

Every few months since the pandemic began, I realize that nothing has changed. Everyone stops caring, cases rise again, we go into lockdown, and people rush to grocery stores to pack their carts with toilet paper and Lysol. 

I’m stuck between wanting to return to normal and being terrified of contributing to the problem. It feels wrong to be happy.

I don’t mind another lockdown if it means I can step outside my house without a cloud of guilt trailing behind me. Or maybe I do mind. I don’t know anymore. Whatever.


The search for a new holiday tradition

By Kareena Kailass

The holiday season has always been my favourite time of year. Parties, family gatherings, and a whole string of festivities are always in the line-up. But when Omicron cases rose and the government placed new rules, our plans came crashing down. 

When Christmas morning rolled around, being quarantined meant we had to get creative. Instead of having presents under the tree, we turned our gift-giving tradition into a scavenger hunt. 

 “Knock knock, who’s there?” My sister said to my parents and I on Christmas morning.  “The gift you are looking for is under the footwear.” 

We looked at each other in confusion, then burst into a sprint to the shoe shelf by the front door. As my sister peered under the shelf, she grabbed a small green box from beneath with another riddle taped to it. And so, the scavenger hunt in our matching red-and-white snowflake-patterned Christmas pyjamas began. 

Hours went by without us noticing. The scavenger hunt proved itself a fun holiday challenge. Pandemic or not, our family found a new tradition that is sure to last for many years to come. 


Gag gifts and a sparkling Covid-19 Christmas 

By Paige France

Very few people know that champagne is from the Champagne district in France. Otherwise, it overcompensates with a glittery title–sparkling wine, lavishness for people on a budget. It’s only right that we romanticise Omicron to be from the French Omicrônne district. Hence, we are enjoying a Christmas that is unlike any other: a sparkling Covid Christmas.

With Omicron’s emergence, my family was familiar with viewing our lifestyle through a more scrupulous lens, questioning our expensive, materialistic lives. To combat this dreary Christmas isolated from friends and family, we were left to one of the best mechanisms of humankind: laughter. Specifically, laughter from gag gifts by the bucketload. 

As an anxious student awaiting a challenging semester, I was gifted a 517-page Organic-Chemistry solutions manual from my giggling twin brother. As a self-proclaimed hater of her piece-of-junk 2011 Toyota Camry, I was also given top-of-the-line winter floor mats. 

It isn’t the need to spend money, but time together during Christmas where we are apart. We have grown to accept our Covid-19 variant budget. Dreary, but still sparkling.


A very, merry Covid-19 Christmas

By Liayana Jondy

A week before Christmas, I sat in my living room searching for publishing jobs on LinkedIn. I wasn’t in the holiday spirit. Day after day, my routine looked the same: I slept in, ate breakfast, checked emails, and watched Netflix. 

What to do? What to do? I thought. Surely finding a job will change things up for me.

My eyes squinted as I opened my LinkedIn profile and began searching for jobs. CP24 played incessantly on my TV in the background. “Ontario is reporting 16,713 Covid-19 infections and 15 deaths today,” the reporter said. “That is up from roughly 9,600 cases last Friday.” 

I tried tuning it out, but my efforts failed. I couldn’t stop thinking about the latest Covid-19 cases. 

Wouldn’t it be great to work for a publishing company remotely? I get to work from home and, right now, nothing is better than that.

I scrolled through the tenth entry-level position that required two to three years of publishing experience. “How disappointing,” I mumbled under my breath. 

“1,144 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, including 205 in the ICU,” the reporter continued. I stared at my dying mini-Christmas tree to avoid looking at the television. 

I guess I could always become a freelance editor.


Maple trees in Tai Tong

By Amanda Liu

I look out the window and the sky is perfect. The clock reads 8:30 a.m. I grunt and drag myself out of bed. I’m supposed to meet Angela at 11:00 for brunch before we set off for Sweet Gum Woods in Tai Tong, Hong Kong. It’s been a year since I last saw her. 

On the subway, I rest my eyes while listening to Taylor Swift’s Delicate on Spotify. I have been longing to go to Sweet Gum Woods after seeing pictures of it two years ago. In December and January, the park is crowded with maple trees and families. The red, orange, and yellow leaves draw many photographers. 

When Angela and I studied in Canada, we dreamed about the maple trees and cherry blossoms there. Lately, she’s too busy with her research studies at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The sunlight shines through the maple leaves’ veins. A soft breeze takes the orange and brown leaves off their branches. It’s a relief to start the new year with a maple tree hike along Angela. 

Staff Writer (Volume 48) — Sherene graduated with a double major in Communication, Culture, Information & Technology and Professional Writing. It wasn't until her third year at UTM that she realised she wanted to be a writer and thus began contributing to campus publications including The Medium. When she's not stressing over the anxieties of adult life with Buffy the Vampire Slayer playing in the background, she loves to write, draw, drink milk tea and buy more journals than she'll ever need.

Opinion Editor (Volume 49) | opinion@themedium.ca — Kareena is a third-year student completing a double-major in Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies and Philosophy, and minoring in Forensic Science. She has previously served as the Associate Opinion Editor for Volume 48. Through her involvement and contributions with The Medium, Kareena hopes to foster a safe and trusted space, while encouraging others to let their voices and stories be heard. When Kareena is not writing or studying, you can find her watching true crime mysteries or cooking.

Staff Writer (Volume 48) — Paige is in her third year at UTM, currently completing a double major in Biology for Health Sciences and Psychology. She previously worked as an Associate Editor for A&E in Volume 47 of The Medium. When she is not writing review articles for A&E, you can find her watching rom coms, writing inappropriate Letterboxd reviews, playing basketball, cruising on her motorbike, and fangirling over the icon that is Taylor Alison Swift. You can connect with Paige through Instagram and Letterboxd.

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