Thursday, October 21, 2010

Never Too Early

We are still more than a week away from Halloween and Christmas decorations are creeping into the stores. Some find this a total outrage and grump that the seasons are being rushed. I must admit, I am not one of them. I adore the Christmas season and, like Charles Dickens urged us in his novella A Christmas Carol, I keep Christmas in my heart the whole year through. I know that my local WalMart is not interested in the 'true meaning of Christmas', they are trying to squeeze money out of my tight change purse in this god-forsaken economy, but I choose to find goodness where I can. And, strangely enough, seeing a Santa Claus figure, jewel-toned ornaments, and a fuzzy stocking just makes me feel warm and peaceful all over.
Here's some insight. When I was a child the Christmas tree went up approximately a week after Thanksgiving. There was an excitement surrounding the treasures unboxed from the basement. Precious baubles that adorned our tree each year were unearthed from newspaper and paper towels. A glass rendition of a snowman with felt hat, scarf, and mittens was placed lovingly on the table in the family room. A knitted Santa Claus was laid gingerly on the sofa. The stockings were seriously hung by the chimney with care. And, when it was all done and the lights were plugged in I sat in front of the spectacular tree and marveled. I had never seen anything more beautiful! Each day I'd run home from school and plop myself down on the floor in front of the tree to become mesmerized by its glow. By New Year's Day the tree and all of its majestic glory were reboxed and sent back into storage, along with a little piece of my joy.
When I moved in to an apartment with my husband I was excited by the life we were about to embark. We could start traditions and control the whens and wheres. When our first October was shared in our home we decided we needed a tree (yes folks, I am the artificial tree type). With little money and high hopes we went to our local WalMart in 1990 in Salem, Virginia and were pleased to find an aisle of Christmas trees and decorations. We set to filling our cart, modestly. Back then a dollar bought a lot more so we were able to buy a lovely assortment of adornments for our new tree. We arrived home agreeing to set up our purchases "just to take our first picture Christmas cards" for that year. We assembled the tree, positioned the limbs, strung the lights, and hung the ornaments just so. We dressed in Christmas finery, set up the tripod, took a roll of film (no digital cameras back then), and felt satisfied we'd have a perfect Christmas card. Then my husband said, "Okay, let's take this all down." I wanted to agree. I tried to, but I just couldn't. I felt a lump in my throat, a tear sting my eye, and a piercing of my heart. I just couldn't put the tree down - it made me too happy. So, two weeks before my husband's Halloween birthday in 1990 we had our tree up for Christmas. Being the good sport he is my husband relented and even enjoyed our own private Christmas scene. That was the only year we ever decorated so early - or kept the tree up as long (it didn't get taken down until late January and even that left me an emotional mess). My husband calmly put in the request to not put our tree up until at least after his birthday. I agreed whole-heartedly. For the next few years we did the decorating before Thanksgiving, but I finally came to my senses and chose Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, for our traditional day of decorating for Christmas. And that tradition still holds today.
As a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament collector, something I've been since 1994, I revel in the Premiere weekend in July. Again, there are those who grumble that it is far too early to see Christmas in the malls, but I counter that collectors need to buy a little at a time to secure their treasures for the year. These ornaments are expensive, but they are also so well made! I cannot tell you what toys my children received last year, or any year for that matter, but I can tell you that they get so excited to see those ornaments come out of storage each year. They each have their own and those ornaments showcase milestones, divulge their interests from that year, and show their individual personalities. We have some with lights and sound and others that play familiar music like "Linus and Lucy" from the Charlie Brown specials. The children all respond to these fanciful delights that hang on our tree and are proud of their collections!
I don't condone rushing the seasons. I enjoy each and every day I am blessed. But, in the every day bustle of life, when nerves get frayed, people disappoint, and rudeness runs rampant, I like to see Christmas out of the blue to remind me that I can show good will towards Man. I try to remember all of the lessons Scrooge was taught on that one fateful Christmas Eve. Maybe I'm too corny. Maybe I'm not entirely in touch with reality. But I know that I still get that warm, peaceful, and serene feeling when I see a lit Christmas tree. I know that when I'm alone in the car in September I blast the Christmas Favorites playlist on my iPod because it makes me happy and joyful! I look forward to the rest of the world to catch Christmas fever like when the local radio stations turn all Christmas music, but I can fill the gaps in the meantime. I say long live Christmas the whole year through. I say become a Santa Claus throughout the year and give secret gifts to those who need more than you in months other than December.
Where do you fall in this debate? Is Christmas Season only the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Day? Do you cringe when the Christmas trees pop up in the mall before Halloween? Are you incensed when you hear Christmas music on the radio before Turkey Day? Or, like me, do you welcome each and every sign that Christmas is state of mind, not a season? Please share your thoughts about this!


  1. I LOVE when Christmas arrives at stores in September/October. Like you, anything Christmas reminds me of happy times and how much fun it was to be a child, awaiting Santa's arrival.

    Black Friday or the day after is our family's day to decorate our tree too (I have had an artificial tree my entire life and am proud to admit it!). I put the tree up while the Thanksgiving Day parade is on the background - that gives our cats a day or so to get used to the tree being up before we decorate it with our precious treasures.

    A few weeks ago during dinner, the boys and I cranked up one of Nat King Cole's Christmas CDs (yes, I still own and play CDs - I am one of the 1% of Americans who does not own an iPod...)and the boys were into it as much as I was. It was so cute how an almost 2 year old asked me to play Jingle Bells over and over - he doesn't even remember last year's Christmas, but he saw the joy that his brothers and I were having listening to the festive music. One of the radio stations in this area switches over to 100% Holiday music, 24/7 and I can't wait to switch on the station one day and be surprised by Christmas music in the near future!!!

    Another great blog - one very near and dear to my heart!

  2. How can anyone cringe at the thought of Christmas?!?

  3. Gretchen, I knew this blog would resonate with you! You and I are kindred spirits when it comes to Christmas! It is wonderful to read that your youngest is as excited by you and the boys' enthusiasm! Can't wait to share the holiday season with you all as is part of our newer traditions!! Great response - you are a terrific writer!

    Racer, I know, right?! But there are some out there who may disagree with us.

  4. When I was in the US last week i saw a guy putting lights on his house. When I was growing up, the tradition was to put up the lights on the house the day after turkey day. The tree went up a few weeks later becasue it was always a live tree and we did not take it douwn until Epiphany. A month is a long time for a live tree!

    It is funny you mention the Hallmark orniments. My wife has been collecting them for years specializing in the Wizard Of Oz. Last year at Christmas she took pictures of her tree and has them posted on FB at "Anne Cahill". An added benefit is I know the people who own the factory that make them. It's always fun to see stuff made.

  5. That is so cool, Marty! And I know you are right about live trees prompting the later set up date.

    I love your Hallmark info. I will be checking out Anne's collection!

    Thanks for coming over to read. I hope to see you back here!

  6. Is Christmas Season only the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Day? YES!

    Do you cringe when the Christmas trees pop up in the mall before Halloween? Absolutely!

    Are you incensed when you hear Christmas music on the radio before Turkey Day? Totally!

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It seems every year the stores try to skip right over it without thought sooner and sooner. It breaks my heart. Thanksgiving to me begins the Christmas season, setting the focus of giving thanks for our many blessings, reflection of our lives and the preciousness of our family and friends. Then Christmas is the thanksgiving of the birth of Christ and His grace and mercies. Then end the holiday season with New Year, where we put the past behind us and move forward with a new focus and center. Looking forward to what the year will bring.

    I don't want to skip over any of it. I don't want to hear the music, see the movies (Muppet Christmas Carol in our house) or decorate or shop for presents until after we feast on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all that goes with it. So, I am clearly the "Day After Thanksgiving" girl.

  7. Haven't put a tree up in years. I'd skip it if I could. Holiday music? Not so much.

    I'm no grinch, I just prefer giving a Christmas to someone in need. If there were still young ones in the family, I'd care more about the Christmas gig with the family. There's nothing quite like watching the eyes of a child light up with glee.

    I prefer Thanksgiving and celebrate it as a day of giving thanks for all the gifts that we've received each day. It's a good day to stop and reflect.

  8. Jules and Cheryl, I totally agree about the import of Thanksgiving and making sure that day is honored in its entirety - I even decorate for that holiday and keep it sacred, too. But I still indulge in the Christmas music when the mood strikes and the images of Christmas in store aisles when I am out and about. I am not trying to skip over other holidays nor reduce their importance in our lives, I'm just trying to honor Christmas all the year through.
    Thank you for your thoughtful responses!

  9. Sorry to spoil the party but when mince pies appear in the stores around September I know its time to zone out til the last week of December :-)

    Ba Humbug ! but don't mind me what ever turns you on just go for it :-)

  10. My daughter was born on Xmas and right after thanksgiving we put up our tree and turn that radio on to the station that plays nothing but Xmas tunes thru the holidays.

  11. Thanks for joining us, Ice Mann! I'm so tickled you are here. My father was born on Christmas!! I'll be wishing your daughter a very happy birthday on Christmas as we wish my father the same :-)
    You love Christmas music, too!

  12. Cheif: Sometimes I get brain freeze and your very welcome.

  13. We get a real tree and I try to keep that thing up until it's a fire hazard!!! LOL I love Christmas! (I love Halloween more I think) :)