'Christmas is more powerful than COVID': Why I silenced my inner Grinch and decorated early this year

The virus has taken many of our livelihoods and some of our loved ones, but it can’t take feelings we’ve tucked deep within the stockings of our minds.

The virus can’t take feelings we’ve tucked deep within the stockings of our minds

Craig Silliphant is embracing Christmas early this year, a move he always used to look down on. (Submitted by Craig Silliphant)

This comedy piece by Craig Silliphant, a writer, editor, critic, broadcaster, and creative director based in Saskatoon, is part of CBC's Opinion section.

For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


Normally I would be against this mid-November Yuletide emergence, but this year I can't help but join in. 

We all need a little cheer.

November is a month of rest

According to a poll I just made up, 86 per cent of people say putting up your Christmas decorations in November is too early. 

I usually have a strict Dec. 1 rule. No decorations, no eggnog and no Anne Murray before then. Yet my social media feeds are already full of people shamelessly stringing up lights, wiping eggnog from their moustaches and humming along as Anne Murray proclaims joy to the world. 

'Twas two months before Christmas and all through the land, it certainly looked like Christmas at hand.

I always thought November should just be plain old November. It's a breather between the twin hedonisms of Halloween and Christmas, with a sober Remembrance Day in there for reflection. It's not sexy, but it's necessary that November does its sworn duty. Especially for my waistline.

Having Christmas whenever we want means we've abandoned the rules that hold society together. It's lawlessness and anarchy. One minute you're bringing those musty boxes of decorations up from the basement and the next, mutant motorcycle gangs are setting fire to the city. If any old day can be Christmas, then Christmas just becomes any old day.

At least, these are all the things I would have said in any other year. Then I started to see those early holiday posts. 

I wanted to scowl. Instead, my Grinchy heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and ole' Craig found the strength of 10 Grinches, plus two. Luckily, this was enough strength to lift a handful of my mom's famous butter tarts to my mouth while bingeing episodes of Holiday Baking Championship.

What's the holiday season without a little classic Christmas literature? (Submitted by Craig Silliphant)

A little extra happiness

To quote a phrase that will haunt our culture for years, "these are difficult times." There's no doubt that "things will look a little different this year."

So what if people want to squeeze a little extra happiness out of 2020?

For many people, COVID depression, seasonal depression and regular depression are all fighting for a turn at the wheel. Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Diwali, or Festivus, or whatever you celebrate, is a spiritual power-up. The world may be dim and sad, but it can be bright and cheery in our homes and in our hearts. 

'Twas two months before Christmas and all 'round the Earth, the people were seeking some joy and some mirth. Also, some wine and a holiday cheese plate would be pretty good about now.

The classic signs of Christmas are in full effect at Craig Silliphant's house. (Submitted by Craig Silliphant)

The healing power of cheese aside, Christmas has a deep well of meaning, even for those of us who are not religious.

Christmas is nostalgia. It's Christmas Eve turning into Christmas morning. It's basking in the glow and warmth of not only the fire, but also friends and family — even the ones you don't like. 

It's the safety of childhood. It's flying down the stairs in pajamas, dodging your parents, to see what Santa brought. 

It's rum and eggnog and It's a Wonderful Life. 

It's lights and ornaments and booze and seeing how many of those waxy Pot 'o Gold chocolates you can jam into your Christmas hole until you want to barf. 

It's every bloody Who down in Who-ville joining hands and singing at the top of their lungs, with or without these material things, because dammit, it's Christmas. 

The stockings of our minds

Christmas is more powerful than COVID. The virus has taken many of our livelihoods and some of our loved ones, but it can't take feelings we've tucked deep within the stockings of our minds. It can't sneak into your brain at night like a greasy Grinch and stuff those memories into its grubby little sack. 

Look in that place within yourself. The holiday joy we've carried for years is there, hung by the chimney with care.

Stretching Christmas out a little longer may be lawless, but it's a good lawlessness. It's a rebellion in our hearts, a garland-wrapped middle finger to a virus that's taken so much. 

Never mind the haters and humbuggers. Do what makes you feel good. Make like the Whos down in Who-ville and sing your heart out. 

And pass me the butter tarts. After all, it's the most wonderful two months of the year.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

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About the Author

Craig Silliphant is a writer, editor, critic, broadcaster, and creative director based in Saskatoon. Follow him on Twitter @craigsilliphant.


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