A one-of-a-kind Christmas Meeting

Family members waive across to their loved one in the US from Canada during a Christmas meet-up ( Dan Gray - Saultonline.com )

One kilometer, 0.62 miles, but it might as well be a flowing blue wall.

That was the feeling when Heather Hannah’s daughter was devising a way to spend time with her family over Christmas and a closed border separated them.

Her daughter Jessica Hannah-Couillard immigrated to the United States some years ago but usually would come home between 8 and 12 times a year. The coronavirus has prevented those reunions which is even tougher during the holiday season.

“She has three grown sons and a grand daughter whom she adores and the coronavirus has taken them away,” said Hannah. “Her husband knew how sad she was and came up with an idea.”

The idea was unique, to fit a unique situation.

“It’s funny actually because he thought I would think it was a corny idea and was nervous to even mention it to me because he thought I would think it was silly,” said Hannah-Couillard. “I instantly thought it was the most brilliant thing I had ever heard of.”

Mark Couillard packed up his wife and Duke the dog of one of the sons on the Canadian side and made the almost three-hour trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. They took up a spot south shore of St. Mary’s River far from the Valley Camp.

“We loaded up our car and Took a mini road trip to the Sault. We stopped in Christmas, Michigan … then set up camp at the hotel in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.,” said Hannah-Couillard. “Honest to Pete I could not wait for Christmas morning I had butterflies I was so excited.”

On the Canadian side of the river stood on the boardwalk near the Art Museum waiting to see their mother, daughter, grandmother.

Then in this hi-tech world we all live in they dialed each other up on facetime and using binoculars, a telescope and my long lens they were all able to see each other, even if they couldn’t touch each other.

Jessica had made up signs which originally read “we love you” on fluorescent board and although only together in spirit you knew they had managed to make each other’s day.

Her son’s and granddaughter waved, talked over the facetime and just enjoyed being in the moment even though it was at such a distance.

“It was absolutely magical … It is a memory that I will carry with me forever,” said Hannah-Couillard.