By Camille Aubin
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Younger children are experiencing an almost complete return to normalcy, such as normalcy was before COVID-19 hit the country. For the first time in what seems like ages, the youngest of them are seeing unmasked faces of people other than those of their parents, when visiting public places. Some experience what it’s like to taste great food in a restaurant for the very first time or to have friends and family over to visit at their homes.

Since November, B.C. residents have been wearing masks in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This may seem like a short period of time to some people, since residents in a few other provinces have worn masks for significantly longer. However, the mandatory mask regulation ended on July 1 in B.C., much to the delight of some and to the fear, annoyance or disapproval for others.

It’s not easy to read a person’s facial expressions and body language when you only see their eyes. It was no doubt even more of a problem for people with hearing impairment.

Everyone had to learn to read the eyes rather than the full facial expressions. But now, well, what a pleasure to rediscover your smiles.

On the morning of July 1, early-bird coffee lovers were able to order their favorite cold brew coffee (it was a steamy morning) without having to cover their faces, if they wished. It sure felt weird, like we were doing something we shouldn’t, something wrong.

That feeling really points to the amazing speed at which humans form new habits. What once seemed bizarre oh so quickly became a regular part of our daily routine, even if just a few weeks ago you never imagined it would be needed in your lifetime.

How often in the past two weeks have you caught yourself rummaging around in your car, looking for a mask, only to realize you no longer need one to go into the grocery store. That’s the power of habit.

As mentioned before, it’s been a joy to see full faces again. For someone who recently moved to the valley not quite a year ago, it is an almost surreal experience to finally “meet” people and to get to see their faces. What an incredible feeling. It has made us realize how beautiful humans are and how magical the effect of a person’s smile can be.

Sometimes it’s only when we lose something that we realize how much we value it. Face to face communication is one of those things. So keep smiling; it’s good to finally see your face!