Friday, December 31, 2021

Reflections on a New Year - Farewell 2021, Welcome 2022

Today is the last day of 2021.  2021 was not a banner year for most people on this planet.  So, I await 2022 with both hope and trepidation.  There is so much uncertainty and the world has changed drastically in the almost two years of this infernal COVID-19 pandemic.  There is no turning back.  We can only go forward carefully and with courage.  History moves in cycles and phases.  In the last century, we faced World War 1, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and World War II.  I did not live through any of those difficult times and I have never experienced the horrors of war.  I have never experienced poverty and I have always had a roof over my head.  I also like to say that I won the birth lottery because I was born in Canada.

The pendulum swings back and forth.  There will be good times again and there will be dark times again.  There will always be suffering and there will always be joy.  To be honest, I am disappointed that my Christmas plans and my New Year's plans had to be altered due to the pandemic.  I know that seems petty compared to the sufferings of many people over the past two years.   I realize that I am fortunate and that I have many blessings, but I still missed getting together with all my family members and friends.  I guess that makes me human. 

So far, I have not tested positive for COVID. and I am thankful for that.  I have received two vaccines and a booster shot.  Yes, the Omicron variant has spread like wildfire.  Although it is very contagious, it has been less severe than the other variants.  My hope is that once it reaches its peak, it will just flame out quickly.  We are fortunate that we live at a time when medical science is so advanced and vaccines can be developed swiftly.  

Thank you for reading Number 16 and allowing me to share my thoughts with you.  That means a great deal to me.  I wish you and your family a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2022.

All the best,


Friday, December 24, 2021

Reflections on a Second COVID Christmas

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate the great feast of the Nativity.  These are trying times, and in these difficult days, our world needs the spirit of Christmas more than ever before.  The Coronavirus, of  course, has no conception of date or time.  COVID-19 attacks when it attacks, whether it be Christmas Day or any other holiday.  It does not discriminate among human beings, although the poorest among us are always hit the hardest. To stop the spread of COVID sooner, we have to give more vaccines to developing countries.  

Let's be perfectly frank.  Drug companies are making enormous profits due to this pandemic.  In contrast, there was no patent for the vaccine for polio (Infantile Paralysis).  Dr. Jonas Salk, an American medical researcher and virologists, developed one of the first successful polio vaccines.  Salk's vaccine came into effect in 1955, but it was never patented.  Although lawyers from the National Foundation for Infantile Research investigated the possibility a patent, they decided not to pursue it, partly because it would not have been a patentable invention by the standards of the day, and partly because of Dr. Salk's reluctance.  When CBS television interviewer Edward R. Murrow asked Salk who owned patent, he famously replied, "Well, the people, I would say.  There is no patent.  Could you patent the sun?"

Dr. Jonas Salk

COVID wields a great deal of power.  It can cause untold suffering and death.  It can prevent social gatherings. It can ruin livelihoods.  However, it does not have the power to destroy the spirit of Christmas.  The Christmas spirit is eternal.  It will last forever.  COVID-19 is merely temporal.  It cannot last forever.  It cannot endure.

Yes, at times, it seems that this pandemic will never end.  We are human and we feel discouraged and fatigued by this infernal virus and its variants.  It will come to an end, though, because all things must pass.  Someday, all of this will be behind us.  It will be relegated to the dust heap of history.  Then we will face the challenge of dealing with the damage it leaves in its wake.  We will have the daunting task of building back better.  

In these dark times, I am trying to find the light.  I do not pretend that it is easy.  However, I will look toward the Star of Bethlehem to guide me, for it is a flame that can never be extinguished.

Peace and joy to people of all faiths and all races.

- Joanne

Friday, December 3, 2021

Christmas Quiz 2021

It's that time of year again and Number 16 presents a 2021 Christmas quiz.  If you think you know your facts about Christmas, put your knowledge to the test. in this 10 question challenge.  Get ready and go!  Good luck!


1,  According to the Bible, how many Wise Men or Magi from the East visited Jesus in Bethlehem?

A, There were two Wise Men from the East.

B.  There were three Wise Men from the East.

C.  There were four Wise Men from the East/

D  The Bible doesn't specify how many Wise Men there were.

E.  There were five Wise Men from the East.

2.  In the 1946 Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life, what happens every time a bell rings?

A.  George Bailey (James Stewart) awakes from his dreaming.

B.  It's a signal that George Bailey (James Stewart) has done the right thing.

C.  An angel gets his wings.

D.  It's a reminder to George Bailey (James Stewart) that he owes money to the bank.

E    None of the above.

3.  In A Christmas Carol, how many ghosts visit Ebenezer Scrooge?

A,  One

B.  Three

C.  Four

D.  Two   

E.  None

4.  Which country has a tradition of a witch dropping children's gifts through the chimney at Christmas?

A.  France

B.  Italy

C.  The Netherlands

D.  Germany

E.  Hungary

5.  In the 1964 animated Christmas TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, featuring the voice of Burl Ives, who was Rudolph's father?

A. Donner

B. Blitzen

C.  Comet

D.  Cupid

E.  Dasher

6,  According to the Book of Luke in the New Testament, why did Joseph and Mary travel to the town of Bethlehem in Judea?

A.  They fled Nazareth to get away from King Herod. 

B.   They went to visit Mary's cousin, Elizabeth.

C.  Joseph was promised work in Bethlehem.

D.  An angel told Joseph to go Bethlehem in a dream.

E.  There was a census and Joseph was from the house and  lineage of David.  Since Bethlehem is "the city of David," he was required to go there.

7.  Where does Queen Elizabeth II traditionally spend the Christmas season?

A.  Buckingham Palace in London

B,  Sandringham House in Norfolk

C.  Balmoral Castle in Scotland

D.  Windsor Castle at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire

E.  Kensington Palace in London

8.  Name the Christmas song that has the following lyric:.

"Everyone dancing merrily in the good old-fashioned way."

A.  Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

B.  Jingle Bell Rock

C.  A Holly Jolly Christmas

D.  Happy Holidays

E.  Silver Bells

9.  Feliz Navidad means Merry Christmas in which language?

A.  Portuguese

B.  Romanian

C.  German

D.  Spanish

E.  Dutch

10.  Which singer had a hit song called "Feliz Navidad?

A.  Ritchie Valens

B. Engelbert Humperdinck

C. Julio Iglesias

D. Jorge Palma

E.  Jose Feliciano


1.  D

Although Three Wise Men are always pictured, he Bible does not actually specify how many Wise Men came from the East.  (The story of the Wise Men only appears in the Book of Matthew).  According to tradition, there were three Wise Men, even though the  Biblical narrative does not mention a number. Matthew only mentions "the Magi" or "Wise Men."  They were astrologers who saw a star that signified the prophecy of a Jewish king.  Matthew says that they brought three gifts to Bethlehem - gold, frankincense and myrrh, but never that there was a trio of men.

2.  C

In the Frank Capra film It's A Wonderful Life, an angel gets his wings every time a bell rings.

3.  C

In A Christmas Carol, four ghosts visit Scrooge: The ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, the ghost of Christmas present, the ghost of Christmas past and the ghost of Christmas yet to come.

4. B

Italy has a tradition of a witch on a broomstick dropping gifts for children through the chimney on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5th).  The witch is called "Befana" and is portrayed as a crooked old hag.  If a child is naughty, he or she receivers a stick instead of coal in some poorer parts of the country.

5.  A

Donner was Rudolph's father in the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special.  Trivia Note;  In the 1823 poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas (Commonly known as The Night Before Christmas)Donner was originally called "Dunder."

6.  E

According the Book of Luke, there was a census. Luke 2 begins with the words "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered."  Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem to register.

7.  B

Sandringham House  
                                                                   PHOTO: David Dixon

The Royal Family traditionally spends Christmas and New Year at Sandringham House, the Queen's country estate in Norfolk, England.

8.  A

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" contains the lyric ""Everyone dancing merrily in the good old-fashioned way."  The song was written by Johnny Marx, who also wrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "A Holly Jolly Christmasr."  It was recorded by Brenda Lee in 1958 and became a huge hit.

9.  D

Feliz Navidad means Merry Christmas in Spanish.

10.  E

Jose Feliciano, a Puerto Rican musician, had a Christmas hit with the song with "Feliz Navidad."

- Joanne

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

COVID testing doesn't belong in pharmacies

 Our local drug store is an important part of our daily lives. It's a place where your parents or grandparents get their medications, where you shop for a card or cosmetics—a place that’s supposed to make us feel safe.

It is NOT the place where anyone should be exposed to active cases of COVID-19. Symptomatic COVID testing is best accomplished in Health Unit organized, stand-alone locations.  COVID testing should certainly be accessible and widely available, but not at your neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart.

Pharmacy employees and pharmacy chains alike have spoken out against the Ford government's pharmacy testing scheme — citing concerns for their own health and the health of their customers.

If you agree with me, please let the Ontario government know that its pharmacy testing plan is not consistent with the advice of the province's health experts.  There's an provincial election in June of 2022, so let your voices be heard.  Click on the link below and sign a petition.

Stop Symptomatic COVID Testing at Ontario Pharmacies! |

- Joanne