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B.C. woman turns to mannequins with family’s faces for COVID Christmas dinner

Click to play video: 'Chilliwack family using mannequins to be ‘together’ for the holidays' Chilliwack family using mannequins to be ‘together’ for the holidays
A Chilliwack mother and grandmother has created mannequins of her family so Christmas dinner during the pandemic won't feel so lonely. Kylie Stanton reports – Dec 24, 2020

With British Columbia under COVID-19 restrictions banning social gatherings of any size, one Chilliwack family has found a creative way to host their loved ones for dinner.

To be clear, no one from outside Esther Esau’s house will be present in person Christmas night.

Read more: B.C. flattening the COVID-19 curve but not out of ‘danger zone’: modelling

But they’ll be present in spirit, with a little help from some mannequins — complete with pictures of her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren’s faces attached.

“Our kids decided it wasn’t possible for them to come here, of course, so I was feeling a little sad about the whole thing and I thought, what could I do to bring a little bit more cheer into what’s going on here,” she told Global News, Wednesday.

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Moderna vaccine approved in Canada, B.C. health officials to release modelling data at 3 p.m – Dec 23, 2020

“When I showed the picture to my daughter, she had to laugh … the youngest (grandchild), he wasn’t too sure what to make of the situation.”

British Columbia implemented province-wide restrictions on social gatherings in November, and in early December extended them to Jan. 8.

Read more: Coronavirus: Almost 800 people have now died of COVID-19 in B.C.

That means for most people, Christmas dinner will be limited to one’s immediate household, though exceptions are permitted for people who live alone, or provide regular childcare for a family member.

Those restrictions appear to be having their intended effect, albeit slowly.

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Modelling presented Wednesday showed B.C. starting to flatten the curve of infection, but provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned new cases could surge again if people began increasing their close contacts.

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Doctors are also pleading with people to forgo the family gatherings on Christmas.

Esau’s daughter Joanne Johnson said it will be tough not to join her parents for the holidays for the first time ever, but agreed it was best to follow the restrictions.

Read more: 10-year-old B.C. girl finally home after fighting rare syndrome linked to COVID-19

“My first reaction was that it was kind of creepy, but knowing my mom and how creative she is, she put it all together and made it work so that we’re kind of there for Christmas,” she said.

“I feel kind of replaced,” she added, laughing. “Fake Joanne gets the nice Christmas dinner and I have to make my own Christmas dinner.”

Back at the Esau homestead, they’re just hoping to make the best of a bad situation.

Esau said she started decorating her home for Christmas in mid-November, in a bid to brighten what’s become a gloomy fall and winter.

Read more: Canada approves Moderna coronavirus vaccine, 1st doses to arrive in ‘coming days’

When it comes to Christmas morning, she said she’ll be doing a video chat with her children and grandchildren when it’s time to open presents.

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And when she sits down to dinner, she’ll still get to see her family’s faces.

“They’re here and they’re smiling,” she said.

“We’re trying to stick with the rules and do our part, we’re hoping that other people will do their part as well and make the most of it.”

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