Hot Chocolate

By Margaret

Hot Chocolate!  Just two words! Two seemingly benign words that, until recently, only triggered a response from my taste buds, not my emotions. 

The ladies at the store always knew to order a cup for me whenever Maureen texted for our requests before coming for a meeting, to drop off transfers or to collect some paperwork.  

More importantly, hot chocolate was my beverage of choice when my husband and I went for our Sunday walks, or leisurely strolls as he calls them, so as to keep me from moving too fast, as I have been known to do!  We live in downtown Burlington and again, until recently, relished the beauty and variety of the shops and the waterfront. On a typical walk we would stop at our favourite coffee place and grab a cosy leather chair by the fire.  My cup would be overflowing with deliciously decadent whipped cream. We would relax and chat about our lives, me talking about all of the exciting things going on at the store and him describing his latest business venture. The conversation would inevitably turn to talk about our kids, our grandkids and their latest exploits. We would people watch, wondering about the lives of the individuals in the shop hunched over their computers or chatting merrily with friends.  On other days we would take our drinks “to go” and stroll down to the lake, taking in the sights and sounds, watching the kids at the playground, the families out for a day together and listening to the hum of traffic and the noise of a beautiful city.

Then life changed! 

The store closed due to COVID-19 and my husband started working from home. After being inside for a number of days, we needed a break.  But this time our usual walk took on a different eerie feeling. There was no one about. Our favourite coffee place had closed and the shops were all shuttered with the obligatory “Closed” info signs in their windows. The park was off limits and empty.  We took great pains to distance ourselves, even crossing streets to protect ourselves and others. We came home, not refreshed or eager to get on with our day, as had been the case in the past, but sadly realizing how we took for granted and missed the small pleasures in our lives, like a steaming cup of hot chocolate on a cold bright winter day. 

Then came my new mission!  I had to get back some of my optimism and creativity that were rapidly ebbing as the virus numbers soared.  I decided that help could be found in the most unlikely of places – our local grocery store! Entering the store and furtively glancing up at each aisle sign,  I searched for my intended target. Down the fifth aisle I found it – instant Hot Chocolate! I chose a box and gripped it as if it were a treasure. After patiently waiting for my turn to pay, 2 metres away from the next customer,  I made my purchase from the cashier behind the newly installed plexiglass, thanking her for her work and care and raced home. I couldn’t wait to show my husband what I bought. How could I be so excited about something so “normal”?

But it wasn’t the Hot Chocolate itself that so excited and inspired me.  It was what it represented – a life before, a life lived day by day sharing the small joys and big achievements with the people dear to me.  The next day we brewed up 2 steaming cups and went on our stroll, looking at our community with new and hopeful eyes, relishing the sweetness in our cups and in our lives! 

In the end, this journey of realization inspired me to begin some projects that I had been putting off – rejuvenating furniture pieces that I will take to the store when we reopen, as I pray we will.  I am excited to show you the finished products!!!!!