How Early Do We Decorate?
By Jeff Salter
Logical for us to be blogging this week about a holiday topic, namely: how early we decorate for Christmas. I can’t recall how much of this I have previously revealed here at 4F1H, but I’ve become something of a Grinch – so people tell me – about all the holiday hoopla. I deeply love the true reason for the season (celebrating the arrival on earth of a Savior for all mankind), but I despise the commercialization, the rabid quest to spend and over-extend ourselves into massive debt, and the jaded nature of too many kids who pull in a gift haul with total value equaling a third world country’s annual budget.
I don’t want to watch Christmas movies in September and I don’t want to hear carols in October. Retail stores display their Halloween stuff in July these days… and they already have Christmas decorations showing immediately after their Labor Day sales. Too soon.
Way Back Yonder
Let me offer some background: My birthdate is the ninth of December, well into the crunch of Christmas hustle-bustle. As a kid growing up, I was fortunate that my mom insisted on waiting until December tenth to put up a tree or any other decorations. Even if my birthday had not fallen that close to Christmas, however, I think 15 days is plenty of time to stare at the lights and decorations.
The way things worked when I was a kid was that my ever-frugal dad would drive us along one of the lesser used highways and look for clusters of pine trees. If there was no fence, he’d just park on the shoulder and we’ll hike in. We’d hunt for what seemed like hours and would still come home with a scraggly thing that had only one or two “good” sides… so we always knew which sides would face the corner. On at least one year (and possibly others), we later had to tie-in some additional pine branches just to make the poor thing look decent. My mom would string the electric lights and then – when we were old enough, that is – we kids would add the ornaments and (if we had any) the tinsel.
Well, the novelty of tree-decorating soon wore off for me, and we three kids rarely agreed on how the tree should look anyhow. Before long, I was in high school, my brother was away at college, and somehow the whole business of family tree decoration faded from my consciousness. Or perhaps it has just dimmed in my memory.
These days, as retired adults with no children at home… the whole holiday scene has a very different feel for me. Our two sets of grandkids – ranging in age from 5-18 – live 800+ miles apart and we’re more often at one of their homes for Christmas Day than we are at our own place.
Nevertheless, at some point after Thanksgiving – no hurry, however – we still pull out the tree and Denise usually decorates it and various spots in the house. We still have some ornaments from her childhood in the middle 1950s, so it’s pretty cool to see those on the tree. I used to have a strand of electric lights with liquid inside – which bubbled when they grew warm from the light – that my grandmother had in Atlanta, as far back as I can remember. They were probably made in the 1940s (if not earlier). Not certain where they are these days.
Often, when I express myself about the holiday season, someone launches into me, calls me a Grinch, or says they feel sorry for me, et cetera. Please spare me that. Allow me to feel as I do about this collection of weeks and don’t insist that I feel the same way “everybody” else seems to.
As I said, I’m not “against” celebrating Christmas. I just wish people would slow down, spend less, not be so frantic about squeezing in so many parties and events into such a short period, and focus more on the true reason we set this holiday apart from the rest of the year. It would be less stress, I believe, on everyone — not to mention much more in keeping with the simple, down-to-earth context of that very first Christmas.
[JLS # 308]