Christmas in Whatville

Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot.

But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

— Dr. Seuss

We all know the story. The Grinch sneaks into Whoville on Christmas Eve after the Whos are asleep and steals all the Christmas presents. On Christmas morning the Whos awake and gather to celebrate their good fortune, even though they don’t have any Christmas presents. The Grinch hears the presentless Whos singing and his heart grows.

The Olympics aren’t quite the same thing as Christmas, but in the weeks before Christmas the Vancouver/Whistler bid for the 2010 Games has turned into something as amusing and bizarre as a Dr. Seuss book. Just look at the characters.

Premier Gordon Campbell is already the Grinch in many people’s eyes. And after witnessing his cost-cutting measures, some have questioned whether he has any heart at all. But Gordon Campbell doesn’t hate the Olympics; in fact he loves the Olympics, so maybe he can’t play the Grinch.

Larry Campbell, the new mayor of Vancouver, is a candidate to play the Grinch, at least among Olympic supporters who fear Da Mayor’s determination to hold a plebiscite on the Olympics could kill the whole thing.

But Larry Campbell says he too is a big fan of the Olympic bid and holding the plebiscite is just keeping a campaign promise. So he’s not the Grinch, he’s more like Horton the elephant – "I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful 100 per cent." Here’s hoping Larry doesn’t lay an egg with his plebiscite.

OK, there is no perfect candidate to play the Grinch, but there’s no shortage of Whos in Whoville, or rather Whatville – as in what’s in it for us? Whistler has been at the front of the line for a long time in terms of what we want: a land bank and new "financial tools" for starters. Indemnification and a lot more cash for facilities are expected if we actually win the right to host the Games.

The Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation apparently have a hotel and golf course planned for the Callaghan Valley as part of the compensation they will receive.

Now, as the rhetoric and campaigning for the Feb. 22 plebiscite begin, every What in Whatville is asking for his share. It’s Christmas, you know.

There’s Jim Green Eggs & Ham saying he might support the Olympic bid if the province turns the old Woodwards building into social housing (now that money’s been found to house the protestors who occupied the building until after the IOC delegation visits Vancouver in March).

There’s Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan wondering what Burnaby has to do to get some money for dredging Burnaby Lake.

There’s the Impact of Olympics on the Community Coalition asking what money from the Olympics will go toward training and creating jobs for the poor, and other social programs.

There’s the Hospital Employees Union with a survey of 400 people who say they would prefer money be spent on health care and education, rather than the Olympics. What about that?

None of these people are opposed to the Olympic bid, they say, they just want to know what they are going to get before they support it. Perhaps that’s fair. Perhaps their shoes are too tight.

In Dr. Seuss’s story all the Whos rose on Christmas morning and celebrated, even though they didn’t have any presents. In Whatville we all have our hands out, in the spirit of the season.

But the real morning of discovery may be of Feb. 23, when we rise and find the whole Olympic idea encased in a thick layer of Oobleck.


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