(Staying) Home for the Holidays: How FAUW reps are making the most of this winter break

If there’s one thing we know for sure right now, it’s that all of our members deserve a break! This has been a long, hard year for everyone and we hope you’re able to take some time for yourselves next week and get some much-needed rest. While the holidays will be different this year for many of us, we hope they’re still full of joy and peace—or whatever else you’re in need of right now.

Take it outside

If you’re thinking about adding in outdoor visits, here’s some great advice on How to Socialize in the Cold Without Being Miserable. NPR also has a great explanation of how to “dress like an onion” to stay warm: start with a sweat-wicking layer next to your skin, such as merino wool or polyester; add a heat-trapping layer, like a fleece; and top it with something wind-blocking. Cotton does not make for a good base layer, as it loses any insulating properties when you sweat. Don’t forget to apply this to your legs, too!

Need some inspiration?

From outdoor visits, to bingeing Netflix shows, to running in a Santa suit, here are some of the ways your FAUW Board, committee, and staff members are spending their time off this year:

I’m just planning to walk away from work for a week to ten days. Figuring out what shelves to clean out, what movies and shows to stream, and what routes to take on walks is about the amount of work I want to have on my plate over the break.  This term was a challenge, as it was for everyone, and January will be really tough on my end, so the rest of December is all about family time and downtime.

Joel Dubin, director

For the first time ever, we will be going on a drive around Kitchener/Waterloo to check out the light displays people have put up. [Link updated for 2021.]

Nomair Naeem, director

I’m traveling to London, UK for theatre. Virtually, of course! I’ll be making some popcorn and tuning into a livestream production of A Christmas Carol (starring Andrew Lincoln as Scrooge) from the Old Vic Theatre. Anyone else watching? We can have a virtual coffee after!

Katy Fulfer, Indigenization Working Group
Photo: Dina Dawoud

 We set up a Christmas tree for the first time in fifteen years. It’s the one my mom gave me when I was an undergrad. It’s also two feet tall.

Dan Brown, president

My parents, fiancé, and I are looking forward to enjoying a quiet day together, surrounded by all the Christmas lights and decorations put up around the house. We will also be trying out a new vegan risotto and coconut cake recipe! And of course looking forward to not checking work emails.

Dina Dawoud, director

We’re taking a trip to Benjamin Tree Farm. Always a fun annual occasion for my family and in this COVID year, a safe outdoor one, we hope. And we hope there will be trees left when we can get there next week!

Kate Lawson, director

We don’t have any family members in Ontario, since I am from out West and my husband is from overseas. Christmas is usually a pretty lonely affair. Despite COVID, our Christmas celebrations will be larger than usual this year, because we welcomed our newborn daughter in April. Instead of a usual celebration of two, we will now be spending Christmas together as a family of three. We don’t have any plans, except for counting our blessings and celebrating our miracle daughter who was born against all odds, including during a pandemic!  2020 was definitely a year to remember.

Su-Yin Tan, Lecturers Committee chair

We normally go to my parents’ to celebrate with them. My mom makes all the best desserts – butter tarts, shortbread, mince tarts, ginger cookies, and of course chocolate chip cookies. So this year I asked her to send me all her recipes and I’ve been making a batch each weekend with my kids.

Diana Skrzydlo, General Meeting chair, Council member, and Salary Anomaly Review representative
Photo: Laura McDonald

I’m going snowshoeing (or hiking, given current snow levels) with my parents in lieu of multiple days of visiting and eating with a dozen family members. Otherwise, we’re embracing staying home by putting up our own Christmas tree for the first time, planning an all-vegan feast for two, and appreciating the simplicity of not having to coordinate the competing schedules of dozens of family and friends. We’ve also got a portable firepit and a basket full of blankets and hand warmers (and marshmallows!) for small, distanced outdoor visits with friends instead of big holiday parties.

Laura McDonald, communications officer

After eight years of strong anti-capitalist sentiment, my kid wants a Solstice tree for the first time. The pandemic has softened me so I am obliging her wishes, though perhaps to the chagrin of everyone in my family because I don’t do anything not over the top. Trees for everyone! Lol. 

Kim Nguyen, Equity Committee
Photo: RunWaterloo and Julie Schmidt

In addition to prepping two courses, I’m going to do my annual Christmas day run wearing my Santa suit. This started as a 5k race held in early December, starting from the Stork YMCA. You got the suit with your entry: beard, the whole nine yards (in subsequent years, the entry fee was cheaper if you already had the suit). Even though I normally don’t like gimmicks, I loved this race. Then one year, I was sick and couldn’t do it.  But I was determined to do my Santa run that year, so I ran on Christmas day, in the suit. There were so many cheery waves, chats in driveways, honking horns, so I started doing that every year. And now with COVID and no real races, I’ve already got my game plan!

Heidi Engelhardt, director

Side note: Heidi started a UW running club on Strava back in the spring that now has more than 200 members! It’s open to current or past UW students, staff, faculty, and anyone you want to bring along with you. There are members all over Canada and the US, and a few in India. All levels are welcome and it’s non-competitive—just getting your butt out the door is a win!

Neither of us has family anywhere near enough for an outdoor visit, so it’s just the two of us. Christmas Eve was always the big event in my family, and dinner that evening is intentionally simple since children are always antsy to get to presents. While there are no antsy children in our plans this year, we’re sticking with an easy dinner and have decided we’ll be steaming tamales from Mi Tienda.

Mystery FAUW rep

I’m going to stop working… except maybe for that #%*! manuscript. Two, actually. But only if I feel like it. I plan to regain an active lifestyle, minus a screen. Not including TV screens because I need to binge 2-3 Netflix series. (TV Suggestion: War of the Worlds on CBC Gem was awesome; very intense. For the first 7.9 episodes at least.) Regular multi-family indoor visits are out for the Tolson family. We’ll do a boxing day drive-by with extended out-of-town family instead. Hot water bottles from Shopper’s work great for keeping warm in outdoor visits! Happy holidays to all of you!

Bryan Tolson, chief negotiator

Have a safe and relaxing holiday, everyone!

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