Today, there are exactly 48 days until Christmas. But, the most wonderful time of the year has already begun.
The day after Halloween, stores switch out their cobwebs and witch hats for cheery window displays with fake snow and tinsel filling their fronts. The candy aisles transform, too, from cheap bags of mixed gummies to gourmet chocolate and candy canes. Christmas is no longer restrained to the last week of December—it now starts Nov. 1—and I am here for it. Although it’s become the norm to hate on this trend, there is nothing wrong with starting the party early.
The first week of every November, you can find me roaming the aisles of Dollarama, stuffing my basket with twinkly lights, scented candles, over-the-top velvet bows, and occasionally a wreath. It’s almost difficult not to commence the celebrations: When stores go from Halloweentown to a Winter Wonderland overnight, giddiness is the instant reaction. In a mere month-and-a-half, exams will be over and students will find themselves at home with family and high school friends. ‘Tis the season to look forward to it all.
For context, I’m American, and our Thanksgiving is not until the tail-end of November. But, when I came to McGill two years ago, Canadian Thanksgiving came and went before Halloween. Suddenly, it was November, and I found myself in a slight lull with nothing to celebrate. Then came Christmas. It became my holiday, and it became the thing that got me through the dreadful essay and exam season. Nothing puts me in a state of euphoria as much as organizing Secret Santas, or curling up with a good book and eggnog while it snows.
It’s not just the material items that accompany Christmas that I love, though. Growing up, holidays always held a sentimental value. On Easter and Thanksgiving, my whole family would pile into my grandma’s house and we’d celebrate like no other. I have countless fond memories from years past, but nothing is quite as special as Christmas. Dec. 25 was always a day of pure happiness. As a kid, presents were the main source of that happiness, along with notes from “Santa.” But now, it’s the quality time that I get with my family and friends that sparks the most joy. I used to take this time for granted, but coming home for the holidays from McGill has made me realize how special it is to be with family and old friends.
There’s a certain aesthetic that comes with the holiday season, too, regardless of what holidays one celebrates. We have commercialism to thank for this. Christmas has been at the forefront of materialistic North America, with decorations and gifts at the centre of celebration.
For some, this isn’t ideal; it strays from the religious history of the holiday. However, I live for Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” and re-watching Love Actually throughout most of November and December. Although this form of Christmas may very well be a dream that capitalism has conjured, it’s a dream that I welcome. Celebrating it so early is simply an escape from the hustle and bustle of student life. It’s living in a dream where all you hear is Michael Buble’s voice, and all you drink is superb hot cocoa. I may be a true sucker for the commercialization of Christmas, but there’s nothing that I love more than seeing Starbucks holiday cups and making my annual gingerbread house.
The holidays pass by fast, so we might as well enjoy them as much as possible. Pharmaprix and Dollarama trinkets aren’t there just to buy—they’re there to get everyone in the spirit. That’s what Christmas is really about. Beyond watching Elf while eating Lindt chocolate, it’s the warm and fuzzy holiday feeling inside that matters. Christmas encompasses everything from wholesome memories to wholesale candy. And the best part is, the joy begins long before Dec. 25, and extends far past it. I carry a little bit of Christmas around with me all year—but in November, it really starts to show.