We have finally arrived at the last month of what has been arguably the most surreal year any of us have ever experienced.
Not to be the bearer of bad news or to be the glass half-empty person, but chances are most of 2021 will be another wild ride as we await vaccination for COVID-19. In the meantime, we just have to dig deep and continue to be kind, calm and safe.

Yes we all can be kinder with our words and our actions. Being calm is so vital in the face of adversity and staying safe is paramount. There cannot be wealth without health. I do believe we can still continue to rebuild our local economy while still following the guidelines that are in place.  

This month, I think everyone should make a point of shopping local — and not in Kelowna or Vancouver and not on Amazon. Kamloops is full of fabulous shops that have everything we need. We should also remember to safely support our local restaurants. We should shop local, eat local and date local. Yes, it is possible to date safely during a pandemic. There are many couples who have fallen in love this year and some may be just starting their love story.

I am providing a list of some creative winter physical distancing date ideas to keep in mind when meeting someone new. It isn’t just single people meeting others who can do these; married couples could have a lot of fun reconnecting by also doing some of these activities. This is a way to get back to basics and enjoy an old-fashioned approach to dating.  
First and foremost, I want to let every person know that when meeting a new match, avoid handshakes and awkward hugs. When you first get together to meet and get to know each other, you should not even be that close to each other to be tempted to offer a physical gesture. Here are some ideas to try this winter for safe pandemic dating:

1. Voice to voice phone conversations (they are in again).
2. Take a walk on the Rivers Trail. Start at the Kamloops Yacht Club and head through Riverside Park.
3. If you both have dogs, take them out for a walk. Dogs don’t have to physical distance.
4. Snowshoe. It’s refreshing out in nature and easy to have a conversation while physical distance snowshoeing.  
5. Go skiing — downhill or cross-country. Sun Peaks, Harper and Stake Lake trails are all close and a winter wonderland of great options. Being outdoors in the winter can be very romantic.
6. Winter trail hike. Throw on some yak tracks for good grip and hike the many amazing trails we have in Kamloops.
7. Roast marshmallows on a bonfire.
8. Take a festive walk in downtown Kamloops to view the Storybook Village, this year’s pandemic-friendly replacement for the Santa Claus Parade. Every street has a different theme and the storefronts are decked out all month. Grab an eggnog latte and wander the bright lights.
9. Meet at the BC Wildlife Park and explore the many exhibits. There is so much to see there. Of course, Wildlights during the holiday season would be a bonus if health orders allow it to proceed.10. Go ice skating.  
11. Go Christmas shopping locally. Throw on your masks and wander the stores.
12. Lastly, and one I think would be such a fun and meaningful date, would be to contact Volunteer Kamloops. They need volunteers this winter to shovel walkways for the elderly in the Snow Angels program. You will feel rewarded, get exercise and realize how special someone is to want to help another person. Giving back is a great date.

There are so many safe ways to get to know someone. It’s all about creativity and effort. Contact Tourism Kamloops for ideas and they can help you set up a really exciting adventure to impress your date. Once you have gotten to know each other and you are both on the same page and have built trust, the next step is obvious — you have a bubble partner!
If you are single, happy and ready to show this pandemic it won’t stop you from dating, contact me by email at holmes@wheretheheartis.ca and let’s get your COVID love story started.