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

Westbound Highway 1 traffic near Herrling Island is backed up a long way following a vehicle incident. (Photo/Trish Dunbar)
Pedestrian killed in crash near Agassiz

Woman in her 50s struck by moving van

Students in the March 2020 Environmental Mind Grind, which was held at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre before COVID-19 restrictions were put into place. This year’s event is being held virtually. (Submitted photo)
Environmental Mind Grind goes virtual for first time

Event open to Abbotsford and Mission students in Grades 6 to 12

The Abbotsford Centre has the ability to host AHL level games if the Vancouver Canucks or any other NHL team chose to move its affiliate to the arena. (File photo)
Abbotsford Centre ready for AHL if right opportunity presents itself

Building recently upgraded glass and boards, schedule would allow for AHL tenant

In 2012, police in Abbotsford placed surveillance cameras near the Dhaliwal home in the 2500 block of Bradner Road after there were two drive-by shootings in the area. Harb Dhaliwal, 31, has now been identified as the victim of a fatal shooting April 17 in Vancouver. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford man named as victim of fatal weekend shooting in Vancouver

Harpreet Dhaliwal, 31, killed outside of Cardero’s restaurant in Coal Harbour

B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom is offering free school tours of The Pencil Patch learning garden in Abbotsford in April, May and June.
Agriculture in the Classroom offers free school tours at learning garden

The Pencil Patch in Abbotsford provides 15 outdoor learning stations

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

(Photo by Mojpe/Pixabay)
Canadian kids extracting record amounts from Tooth Fairy

Our neighbours in the U.S. receive slightly less from Tooth Fairy visits

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Most Read