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TORONTO (LifeSiteNews) – Well, I’m back.

Back in Canada, that is. I’m so glad I did not know, that last, beautiful, treasured family Christmas in Toronto, that I would not be home again for two years, eleven months, and four days. It would have added a dark cloud to what was, as I have so often recalled with longing, a very jolly atmosphere.

What happened after my husband and I jetted back to Scotland on New Year’s Day 2021 now feels like a bad dream—possibly even someone else’s bad dream. But a few details stand out. A particularly vivid one is that Canada slapped a ban on U.K. flights on December 20, 2020 because “a new variant” of COVID-19 had been discovered in Kent. The ban lasted until January 7, ensuring that residents of this sceptred isle would not spend a single day of Christmas with their relations in Canada. But Britons without Canadian citizenship had been barred from entering for some months anyway, which is no doubt why my non-Canadian, Scottish husband and I weren’t left with canceled tickets.

We traveled in Europe—twice to Poland, and at least once to Italy—before the European jab mandates put a stop to that. Then we traveled about Britain, wearing our masks so as not to scandalize the weaker brethren, and never catching COVID. (We finally tested positive in September 2022; our symptoms lasted a maximum of three days.) We had two jolly Christmases with friends in Scotland, and I forget how many regulations we broke.

I watched what was happening in Canada with horror. Although the restrictions in Scotland were onerous, I’m relatively sure nobody on my humble street was calling the police on his neighbors for opening the door to a family member. Nobody invited children to say on television what punishments they felt the Unvaxxed deserved. I am absolutely sure the British Prime Minister(s)—or even the First Minister of Scotland—did not publicly refer to COVID jab skeptics as “these people” who “don’t believe in science/progress and are very often misogynistic and racist” and “take up some space.” Incidentally, I do hope this is the closest Justin Trudeau gets to saying lebensraum, for what he did say made my blood run cold. Naturally, Quebec’s proposal to fine the COVID Unvaxxed didn’t fill my Canadian heart with pride, and the “papers, please” transportation segregation appalled me.

But it’s funny, you know. Although I was mighty nervous about getting on the plane to Toronto earlier this month, I didn’t turn a hair when I picked up my Via Rail ticket at Union Station on my way to see family in Quebec. Just as there was no hint of the earlier COVID tyranny at Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, there was no evidence of the recent segregation on the rails. Happy Xmas (COVID’s over), as John Lennon didn’t sing.

Of course, COVID isn’t really over. People are still getting sick despite—or, likely, because of—the outrageous, unscientific COVID policies that did so much harm in every country that imposed them. But Canadian COVID tyranny seems to be over—at least for now—and people in Toronto, even true believers in the government, are shaking their heads and saying the restrictions of the past two Christmases seem crazy now.

You may be wondering what this has to do with Christmas—and for true spiritual reflection, I encourage you to read the excellent Yuletide essays of my colleagues. But for me, back in Canada after almost three years of exile, Christmas is the season of forgiving but not forgetting. Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it, as the American philosopher George Santayana wrote, and I do not care to see my country fall into the grip of medical totalitarianism ever again.

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Dorothy Cummings McLean is a Canadian journalist, essayist, and novelist. She earned an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Toronto and an M.Div./S.T.B. from Toronto’s Regis College. She was a columnist for the Toronto Catholic Register for nine years and has contributed to Catholic World Report. Her first book, Seraphic Singles,  was published by Novalis (2010) in Canada, Liguori in the USA, and Homo Dei in Poland. Her second, Ceremony of Innocence, was published by Ignatius Press (2013). Dorothy lives near Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband.