Tom Purcell is a syndicated humor columnist.

Sorry, COVID-19, but you’re not going to stop our Christmas cheer this year.

You remind me of the Dr. Seuss Christmas classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

The Grinch, you see, is a miserable old grouch. He lives in a cave on a hill and hates the sound of Christmas festivities that take place in Whoville in the valley below.

His only source of joy, he initially thinks, is to rob the Whos of their Christmas presents, decorations and feast. His wants to make the Whos as miserable as he is.

And though he succeeds in taking all of the Whos’ material possessions, the one thing he can’t take is their Christmas joy.

He’s shocked on Christmas morning when the Whos gather, hold hands and sing a joyful carol – not the least bit worried about their material losses.

This year, the stores are empty – few people are out shopping. There’s no hustle or bustle that’s so common at this time of year.

But the people who are out appear to be friendlier and more cheerful than usual.

While driving the other night, I noticed something wonderful: It appears that many more houses are displaying Christmas decorations this year. Whole neighborhoods are lit up with the most beautiful arrangements of Christmas lights.

I’m noticing this all over the city, and it makes me smile. I smile because it’s a simple act of defiance in the face of the virus that keeps on causing us trouble.

I smile because COVID-19 is causing us to focus on one of the greatest gifts of Christmas, which is charitableness.

According to Marketplace, charitable giving has been way up in 2020.

“A lot of the data on charitable giving comes out at the end of the year, but we know from early numbers that people are giving more than in previous years, in particular to food banks, to groups that focus on housing and to mutual aid groups, which are more grassroots efforts, neighbors helping neighbors,” reports Marketplace’s Marielle Segarra.

COVID-19 may be impeding our traditions and gatherings this year, but it’s not bringing us down. Rather, it’s helping us care more for our neighbors and others who are in need and struggling as a result of the daggone bug.

Sure, COVID-19, you’ve caused a lot of disruption. But you’ve helped open our eyes at the same time.

You’ve helped us identify some among us who enjoy their government powers a little too much – who abuse those powers a little too much.

You’ve helped us identify hypocrites who shut down restaurants and forbid travel – but then are caught eating at fancy restaurants after traveling to exotic vacation spots.

You’ve helped us realize that some people in power have little regard for the people they’re supposed to serve, and choose not to allow those people to make their own commonsense decisions to, say, protect themselves from the virus while attending a church service.

I’ve got news for you, COVID-19: We’re going to prevail over you. In fact, we already have.

Because the true outcome of your disruptiveness has been to bring out the best in most of us – to bring out our Christmas cheer in abundance.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Christmas carols to sing.

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Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at

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