The holiday season is full of small pleasures, rituals and traditions, and this year it seems like people can’t wait to get started.
Christmas decorations are selling fast and people are trimming their Christmas trees earlier than ever this year, as a way to shake off the gloom of a pandemic that has sucked much of the pleasure out of 2020.
“I think there is a lot of pleasure in having something that we can look forward to, especially when there aren’t so many parties and gatherings as usual,” said Elizabeth Dunn, a UBC psychologist who studies happiness. “We might think of Christmas morning as the main joy of the season, but that anticipation is a powerful source of pleasure.”
The rituals of the mid-winter celebration are almost as ancient as human civilization.
“Things like putting up Christmas lights or decorating the tree and letting the youngest hang the first ornament are small pleasures,” she said. “When you don’t have as much to enjoy you should make the most of these rituals and the comfort they bring.”
The City of Surrey is encouraging people to amp up their outdoor displays with its Light Where You Live campaign and photo contest, she noted.
“We put up twice as many strings of lights in the yard as we typically do, doing our bit to make the place cheery,” said Vancouver resident Shawn Hall. “My wife and daughter are making lit trees out of garden tomato cages and metallic ribbon that are looking good.”
“We aren’t going out to do the Christmas stuff we would normally do, so we are definitely doing more at home,” he said.
Many people admitted to putting up decorations well before Dec. 1.
“Don’t judge, but we did it very early November,” said Gibsons resident Jackie Lee-Coyle. “My 15-year-old requested it and I honestly couldn’t think of a single reason why not.”
With a file from Jennifer Saltman
CLICK HERE to report a typo.
Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.
“For people who are putting up their lights, I say have at it,” she said.
Exchanging gifts and thinking about what kinds of gifts your loved one will enjoy is a great way to feel a connection with the people in your life. Take as much time as you like with it.
“Gift-giving is a pretty central ritual across history and across cultures,” she said. “It’s a thing you can do even if you can’t see your family like you would ordinarily.”
Getting a head start
Christmas lights and decorations are flying off store shelves as people around the Lower Mainland try to jump-start their holiday cheer.
“At Home Hardware in Sechelt we are seeing Christmas items selling out amazingly early and quickly this year,” said assistant manager Ken Custance. “If you want something, don’t put it off or it will be too late.”
It’s the same story in Point Grey, as Hewer Home Hardware owner Bernard Lau can attest.
“People, they’re at home, so they’re going to decorate, make their house look nice,” he said. “My wife, she’s so hyped for me putting up lights. I went home last night and I’ve got all these lights and I’m putting them up and she’s like, ‘Oh, this is so fun.’ ”
As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its ninth month, people are looking for ways to cheer themselves up. Starting seasonal celebrations is a popular choice.
Many respondents to a query from Postmedia said they would be installing “twice as many lights” this year.
“I love Christmas, and with all the cancelations this year we’ve gone all out — new tree, new lights,” said Surrey resident Mary Sheridan. “Plus, I lost my job because of the pandemic. I need all the cheering up I can get.”