Eve Fischer, 57, sits alone in the park with her dogs after seeing her usual birthday gathering dashed for the second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Toronto on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Eve Fischer, 57, sits alone in the park with her dogs after seeing her usual birthday gathering dashed for the second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Toronto on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

COVID-19 takes the cake, again: Spring babies face 2nd birthday in a pandemic

Late winter, early spring babies the first group whose birthday gatherings were overshadowed or called off in 2020

Bubbly and flamboyant Eve Fischer is known among her friends for throwing unforgettable birthday celebrations, but the COVID-19 pandemic is really cramping her party spirit.

Before the world ground to a halt, the Toronto resident had a reputation for holding birthday soirees at her favourite restaurants that were more than just cakes and candles. Bottles of prosecco would be flowing, laughter almost endless, and between a couple dozen of her closest friends there were hugs aplenty.

“(My) birthdays are Beverly Hills-style, you know, like the Real Housewives,” the 57-year-old explained.

“It means a lot because it’s getting together to celebrate another year that we’re alive.”

Except on last year’s birthday – Friday, March 13, 2020 – sinister energy was looming over her usual boisterous gathering.

Two days earlier, the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, raising anxiety among her friends. Nearly half of her guests pulled out of their reservations and the ones who showed up couldn’t shake their fears.

“It obviously took away from the evening,” Fischer remembers.

“We had masks, Lysol wipes and we were in a private room, but every conversation was: ‘What is this disease?’ ‘What is going on?’ ‘Should we even be using their utensils?’”

Late winter and early spring babies were the first group whose 2020 birthday gatherings were overshadowed, or suddenly called off, as physical distancing measures came into effect. And they are at the front of the line to be reminded that the party is still cancelled in 2021.

For some, losing a birthday party or two is trivial, but for others, these social events are about making memories with the people closest to them.

A year later, Fischer still mourns how the party stalled.

She marked her second pandemic birthday earlier this month without the usual room of familiar faces. A small gathering of three people within her bubble was nice, but hardly the usual revelry that made these events special.

“It’s just another disappointment,” Fischer said.

“And the thing is, the older you get, you don’t know how many of those birthdays you have left.”

New mom Wendy Cacilhas had big plans for her son’s first birthday last year that included packing 60 people into a rented space. But when it became clear that wouldn’t be possible, the Burlington, Ont. resident started thinking of other ways to mark the occasion.

Jumping online, her husband dug up a recipe for cake fondant while she ordered her son a bow tie and suspenders to dress him for a substitute Zoom party.

The compromise was fitting for the early days of the pandemic, but after spending much of the past year on Zoom calls, Cacilhas had no interest in replicating the experience for another birthday.

“I have zero desire to spend additional time online,” she said.

“I’d rather have no events than a virtual event.”

Not long ago, Cacilhas started considering ways to safely mark her son’s second birthday in person.

With spring weather peeking through, she planned three small weekend meet-ups with close friends and family to maintain a feeling of community.

“I know it’s not important in the grand scheme of what people have lost — like kids’ birthday parties are not a thing,” Cacilhas said.

“I feel grateful that he’s not four, five or six where he feels a loss of something. He doesn’t know any better, he doesn’t know any different, and I guess I already mourned not having a big party last year.”

“What I’ve learned is expect nothing, or very little, and you won’t be disappointed,” she added.

Tell that to Noah Sexsmith, who watched his 18th birthday come and go last March without any much fanfare.

Instead of hanging out at the local bar with friends to toast reaching Alberta’s legal drinking age, he was locked down with his family and a stack of pizzas at home.

And while that was fine for one year, the pandemic trampled over a bunch of other adolescent milestones on the way to putting the damper on his 19th birthday earlier this month.

First went his traditional high school graduation, which became a physically distanced drive-in ceremony, and then his first day of university, which he lived out through his webcam.

Occasionally an older sibling or friend will chime in with fond memories of their late teen birthdays.

“All of them have these fun stories and you’re just left there blank,” he said.

“It’s a little sad knowing we’ll never be able to have the same experience.”

Sexsmith tries not to dwell much on missing out. He’s already thinking about what comes next, including a livelier 20th birthday with his friends.

“I’m very much hoping it won’t be in the house again,” he said.

“After not having two of the most significant birthdays, I’ll definitely have a bigger appreciation for all birthdays.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Moricetown, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Erin O’Toole, Conservative Party of Canada leader, answered questions during a Terrace District Chamber of Commerce event on April 6, 2021. (Screenshot/Terrace District Chamber of Commerce Facebook)
Erin O’Toole discusses Terrace issues during virtual event

Federal Conservative leader answered questions during a Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce event

Tree; Burns Lake library. (Laura Blackwell photo/Lakes District News)
Dragon Tree christened

The Burns Lake Public Library contest for dragon and tree names has… Continue reading

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

Most Read