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!!!!! 

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  • Thank you for the reflection you posted on your regular walks in downtown Burlington. It sounds very similar to the walks my husband and I have taken hundreds of times also enjoying hot chocolate and the sights and sounds of downtown Burlington. I am sure our paths have probably passed before. Taking something so simple in our lives for granted from such a short time ago. Your post brought tears to my eyes however, also brought hope with the great memories that we are holding near and dear. Your projects look lovely! Stay safe and I truly hope to be able to visit the store in the near future!

  • Thank you for sharing the changes happening in your daily routine. It is nice to see a spot of brightness
    In everyone’s day. Do miss being able to walk through Millionaires Daughter on Ottawa Street, talk to the girls about new items and possibility each one offers with a little change of paint, fabric or simply a new
    Space in a new home, mainly mine! I have to have my fix by continuing to browse online several times
    a week and will continue to until we are all set free again to roam and reopen.
    I personally think your website is so easy to navigate and is so professionally displayed through out the store, the girls manage to display everything to appear as if in a home setting, and any time I am in there
    Entertaining and engaging with the customers and making each visit a little more special than the last
    It is a joy to see staff enjoy their job so much as it is not always the easiest job to meet and deal with the
    Public and they make look so easy all the time making it a fun experience. Hopefully it won’t belong and
    We can all continue to shop on line with you until the doors reopen. Stay safe ??
    Grateful shopper Linda

  • Loved this glimpse into your life and the insights you’ve shared here, Margaret. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to post this. Here’s to you and to the return of Hot Choc walks with the sounds of children playing and laughing. This too shall pass, n’est-ce pas?

  • Love this post Margaret. Your rejuvenated pieces look fabulous! Can you tell me what paint you used on the 1st piece … the black bookcase? I’m updating a couple of side tables and looking at various paint options. Thanks, Kathy (TMD, Aurora)

    • Hi Kathy, I used Painters Touch Flat Black Spray paint for this but often use the chalk paint available at Home Depot. Lots of great colours and a good price.

  • Thank you for such a lovely post! We too are walking every day, and missing the little things – like baking and delivering batches of home-made chocolate chip cookies to our little 2-year-old grandson in Oakville every week or so. We miss the excitement on his face when he sees us – and the cookies – and can’t wait for the day we can do that again. In the meantime, we will stay put, stay home, and keep good thoughts that everyone – including the vitally important small business owners – gets through this, and back to life as we knew it, soon. Stay safe.

  • I will be so ready to come back to shop in your store when we are back in circulation. I love this honest blog post and the pictures of your work. Keep it up, we’ll get through this together,
    Karen Armstrong

  • My husband and I do the same on a Sunday…only substituting nice coffee and a treat for the hot chocolate. Lately we have been bringing coffee and home made muffins to eat either in the car or at a picnic bench away from everyone, Where do you go for your treat? We haven’t found a goto place in Burlington yet. Looking forward to resuming the visits to local shops again…soon?


    • Hi Lauren, Thanks for your kind words. We often go to Coffee Culture on Brant Street. Lots of goodies there.

  • Usually, it’s the small things in life that are the most precious and the ones that we take for granted. In my thoughts recently, it’s been that truely; we live in a blessed area of the world and usually we also take that for granted.

  • Thank you for your story! I’ve been cleaning up paper in my study to make some room. Our vacation to see our new granddaughter in Nova Scotia has been cancelled, do well send an Easter package to them.

  • I was really blessed by your ‘Hot Chocolate’ story. It is a difficult time. My husband passed last year and I am living alone in a Seniors’ Residence. I have two daughters who live in working households so we have decided to keep our distance as they do not want to expose me to what they might be exposed to. We stay in touch with daily texts, calls and videos. But, funny enough, I have started fixing myself hot chocolate, with little marshmallows, and then relaxing over a cup. You’re right, during this time it reminds me of happier times and all I have to be thankful for. Thanks you for your words of encouragement. As a side note, your store in Aurora took some of our furniture on consignment when we moved into the senior’s residence. I love what your store does, brings new life to the old. Thank you for that. I look forward to visiting again when all of this is over. Love and Prayers to all of you!

  • Dear Margaret,

    Thank you for your Hot Chocolate blog-post. Small comforts mean a lot during times like these. I, too, adore downtown Burlington. I, too, adore luxurious hot chocolate. I, too, look forward to once again browsing through The Millionaires Daughter on Ottawa Street, Hamilton. Thank you so much for signs of hope!