Christmas in May: Regina family to celebrate holiday this weekend as Sask. relaxes restrictions

May 30 marks the start of Step 1 of Saskatchewan’s three-stage reopening plan. It sees some of the restrictions put in place last fall loosen, including allowing private indoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

May 30 marks the start of the 1st stage of the province's 3-stage reopening plan

Russ and Marla Barr have kept their Christmas decorations up since last fall, with presents patiently waiting under the tree, until it was safe for their family to get together. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

This Sunday, the Schindels and the Barrs will be celebrating Christmas in May.

Regina's Chad and Taryn Schindel and their two girls — Sophie, 11, and Myla, 7 — have only seen grandpa Russ and grandma Marla Barr a handful of times since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"That was drop off gifts or drop off … a Mother's Day meal — ring and run type thing," Taryn said. 

She also saw her parents when her uncle died, and when her older daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and had to be hospitalized — her younger daughter stayed with her grandma and grandpa for a few days then.

"So the times that we did see them, it certainly wasn't for any joyous occasion," said Taryn. "This will be our fun time. This will be our enjoyment and relaxation."

May 30 marks the start of Step 1 of Saskatchewan's three-stage reopening plan. It sees some of the restrictions put in place last fall loosen, including allowing private indoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

Chad said the family had been planning to get together for Christmas, but then the province announced gatherings would be limited to immediate family only over the holidays. They decided they would wait to celebrate Christmas when it was safe again.

"We weren't expecting the end of May, for that to be the time," he said. "We were thinking maybe a month or two at that time at the very most."

The Schindels had their own Christmas together at home, so the girls still got to open presents on Christmas Day, and they had a video chat with Taryn's parents and Chad's mom. They were able to celebrate Christmas with Chad's mom on a different day, because she lives alone.

Sophie, 11, and Myla, 7, pictured opening presents at home last Christmas. Their parents say the girls are excited to get open another round of presents on Sunday. (Submitted by the Schindels)

Taryn is a nurse, so there was also a heightened risk of contracting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 through her workplace, and Sophie's recent diabetes diagnosis means she's immunocompromised, so Taryn said the family is still going to be cautious and go slow with starting to socialize again.

But she said it's important for her family to get together.

"I feel that this needs to be done right now for our own emotional well-being," she said. "My kids need to be with their grandparents. They need to. We just need all to be together."

'A surprise for everybody'

It will be a true Christmas celebration — Russ and Marla Barr haven't yet taken down the decorations they put up last fall, and there are still presents waiting under the tree.

Taryn and Chad picked out the presents at at the grandparents' request, but they say they don't remember what they got anymore.

"It's really going to be a surprise for everybody," Chad said.

"We'll be looking at them going, 'what did you get?' And we really … won't even know," Taryn said.

Chad said the family discussed having Christmas in December, but no one was comfortable breaking the rules and they wanted to keep everyone safe. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

As for the presents for the grandparents, Taryn says they bought jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles and other activities that would be good for isolation.

"And now it's all coming open, and [the presents are] all the stuff that they probably won't want to do anymore," she said with a laugh.

Russ and Marla Barr are planning the full spread: turkey, potatoes with gravy, cabbage rolls, perogies, and saskatoon berry pie with ice cream for dessert.

But Chad said it will be strange having so many people at a table together. 

"We haven't had more than four people at a table for quite a while, and typically we wouldn't make such a large meal either," he said.

Everyone is excited to celebrate Christmas on Sunday, and Chad said the kids are especially excited about another round of Christmas presents.

Taryn said she is looking forward to regaining a sense of normalcy.

"It'll be good that we can sit with them. We can be with them on the same couch," Taryn said. "It's not going to be from across a driveway — just together."


Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan.


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