There’s no time like the holidays. Let no hall be undecked and all tidings be cheered. The snow has arrived to turn Tiny Town into the winter wonderland tourists hoped it would be. It’s redeemed our pandemic-battered collective psyche and rejuvenated our spirits. Bookings are up, but how could they not be after last year—and all is right with the world.
Almost. The holiday season we all thought would be about as normal as whatever meaning that word still has, is still darkened with building storm clouds. The distraction we thought would let us momentarily forget about last summer’s fires and this autumn’s floods has been nudged off course by the latest foray into whatever we remember of the Greek alphabet. Ο is for omicron. Can you say Omicron, Kermit?
As with so much of the lore of coronavirus, little is known about Ο but more is being discovered every day. This state of ignorance and rapid discovery leads many people to throw up their hands in despair and draw the erroneous conclusion medical science knows nothing and is, therefore, not to be believed. You say highly transmissible; they say t’ain’t necessarily so.
No one wants to hear about downsizing their holiday plans. Everybody is tired of self-restraint, especially those who have been practising it for what seems like forever while gnashing their teeth watching others pay it no heed at all.
It’s time to throw stress aside—other than the inherent stress of Christmas—and party like it’s 2019 all over again. Deck our halls, troll our ancient Yuletide carols and don our gay apparel. Right?
Newspapers and magazines are chock-a-block this time of year with two overarching themes: the year in review where we can read someone else’s opinion on the 10 best movies, TV shows, songs, books, annoying new words, etc., of 2021; and cutesy, faux self-help stories on how to survive the perniciousness of Christmas. Since this is an opinion column, I feel compelled to weigh in. After all, Christmas in Whistler isn’t exactly like Christmas in Toronto.
The three hells of Christmas seem to revolve around what we eat, what we spend and with whom we celebrate. Too many writers think we should get through the holidays without gaining weight. They’re idiots. The whole idea behind Christmas is to eat and drink as much as humanly possible while striving mightily to avoid drunk tanks, road blocks and buttons that pop so hard somebody loses an eye. If Christmas wasn’t about excess, fitness centres wouldn’t have January specials. And fitness centres depend on the excess of Christmas much as timeshare salesfolk depend on holiday tourists. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
The Holy Grail of the holidays for anyone in their right mind should be to eat and drink their weight in the four basic food groups: cookies, turkey dinner, chocolate and alcohol. The rules are fairly simple, eat until you feel the first signs of discomfort. Have one more helping of everything, then slip anything you’ve particularly liked into your pockets for later. To that end, you should always have a plastic bag in your pocket for the rest of the month.
Parties and banquets are not as plentiful this time of year as they were when we weren’t being scared of ICUs running out of room but they are still knocking around. Clearly they take more commitment to ferret out and crash than they used to but as with so many things, the more difficult the hunt, the sweeter the kill.
The more upscale, large hotels in town are still your best bet. Even in CovidTime, the law of large, albeit not too large, numbers will help get you in whether you belong or not. With any gathering you stumble across of, say, more than 30 people who don’t all look as though it’s a family reunion, it’s practically impossible to detect interlopers. Walk in with your head high, grab a drink, make small talk—it’s the same at every party—and pretend you belong. Hell, it’s even easier now with masks on; every gathering is a masquerade. Of course, if this level of boldness makes you uncomfortable, invest in a Santa suit. Santa’s always welcome, even if there are already two or three squirrelling away whatever treats have been laid out.
Avoiding overspending in Whistler is either easy or impossible. If you live here and don’t own a swank market home, it’s super simple—you’re probably broke anyway. Everyone on your shopping list will be happy with ski socks or, if you’re feeling particularly flush, anything merino wool. Splurge a little. You can always pick up a second, third or fourth job next month with all the help wanted signs in town.
If, on the other hand, you are visiting or own one of those aforementioned swank homes, here’s a tip: You’re supposed to spend like drunken sailors. We’re depending on you to get us through the holidays and all the way to early closing this spring. Assuming you can get a reservation at one of our fine dining establishments, be generous, show off, you know a $500 bottle of wine is at least 10 times better than a $50 bottle. Who deserves it more than you? Right. Nobody.
And don’t make me remind you of our bylaw prohibiting you from scrambling some eggs in your condo and calling them dinner. You want to be able to come back again, after all.
I would not dare to tell you where to shop locally while you’re here, but really, you should. Everywhere. And I don’t mean just because of the rumours going around about hackers cancelling your tickets for your flights home if you don’t. That’s just a rumour. The town’s full of ‘em. They’re rarely true. Rarely.
I’m not brave enough to comment on with whom you might celebrate or exactly how you might go about that. This is, after all, a family newsmagazine. But clearly, you didn’t come here to celebrate alone so love the one(s) you’re with.
Eat, drink, ski, celebrate and be merry. For tomorrow...