Better Late Than Never

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.


Although this is NOT one of my childhood trees, it gives you a feel of what some of our trees looked like. However, we never had one brushing the ceiling — Mom would not allow that.

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]



About jeff7salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Twelve completed novels and five completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015, "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015, "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015, "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014, "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014, "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014, "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014, "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013, "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013, "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013, "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012, "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012. Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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13 Responses to Better Late Than Never

  1. Helen Pollard says:

    I agree with almost everything you said, Jeff. Because we don’t have Thanksgiving here in the UK, at least there isn’t a definitive date for starting to decorate for Christmas – although now it’s 1st Dec, I suspect people will get going. The shops already have, of course. And certainly, as the kids become adults, there is a less magical feel to it all – so you’re right, people should be allowed to feel how they feel about it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      thank you for understanding, Helen. Way too many people seem to think that anybody who does not jump into the “purchase and party” frenzy is somehow marred.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joselyn says:

    I agree with this so much. I worry about how much every holiday (not just Christmas) has become commercialized and stretched and hyped. I remember wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day so you didn’t get pinched. Now you are expected to hide a pot of candy somewhere and create leprechan prints around the house and we aren’t even Irish (I don’t do it, by the way, and don’t even get me started on Elf on the Shelf.) I would rather enjoy spending time with people and enjoy the holiday day rather than stress out about it for two months before.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I have some of those bubble lights. My parents decided that they never used them now that their kids are grown so they sent them home with me.

    There is nothing Grinch-like about not wanting to see Christmas stuff in the summer or early fall. I was so surprised when my seven year old asked for one $10 item this year. Most kids seem to want a fortune spent on them.

    Hunting for that perfect tree when you were younger sounds like it was a nice family moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jeff7salter says:

      yes, I did enjoy those outings for tree-hunting. I guess when it hit me in a slightly unfortunate light was when I’d see these grand, 10-ft trees at my friends’ houses. Some looked PERFECT and had a bottom diameter of six feet or more. I suppose, somewhere along the line, it struck me that our single income family — and my dad was a minister — was living just a bit too close to the bone.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will admit I love the lights and decorations and the music that accompany Christmas, and it really doesn’t bother me so much that the stores bring them out so early. After working for over 20 years in merchandising (8 of them as a merchandiser for Hallmark) I know how you need to fill shelves with something. What I don’t like is the push to make everything perfect, to extend yourself and stress out instead of just enjoying it all. I like having my small family together, eating together, just hanging out, and oh yes, opening presents. I don’t do a whole lot of shopping and don’t stress out about it. We try to just enjoy. But I do remember the years when I was working in many stores stocking holiday cards, that one store played music from the Nutcracker over and over until I was ready to have a meltdown! I was so glad when that ended. But I guess it’s all about perspectives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      thanks for visiting. Yes, eating together and hanging out — the season should be about sharing, rather than conspicuous consumption. As a younger adult, I still did a lot of shopping — for spouse, kids, parents, friends, and (of course) the office obligations.
      Slowly, as I grew older, I became less and less inclined to face the crowds and frantic atmosphere of the retail world.
      Totally understand the Nutcracker “rage”. We dined in a restaurant once… and over the course of the hour (or so) we were present, they played ONE album, over and over and over. I finally asked the waitress why their PA system (or whatever they call it) was playing that single album… and she said she had not even noticed. She’d completely tuned it out.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I love the music from the Nutcracker, but hearing it over and over would drive me nuts, too! And you’re right, the holiday should be more about enjoying family and friends. Thanks for visiting, Lucy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I wouldn’t mind waiting longer to get started on Christmas decorations. But with my performance and teaching schedule, I get really bus in December, so if I waited longer things wouldn’t get done. And then my kids and grandkids would complain. Since the music has to be rehearsed, I’m usually playing Christmas music in October, but I don’t like to listen to it on the radio, and I don’t purchase gifts early, either. Your mom was smart to wait until after your birthday to start the festivities.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I could not agree more that people rush the holiday.I applaud your mother letting you have your birthday. I know many people who have December birthdays feel cheated, but my niece’s birthday is on the 13th. When she was little, she liked for my mother to make Christmasy cakes…a Christmas tree, Santa, etc., for her birthday cake.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff7salter says:

      our daughter, bless her heart, was born on Dec. 23d.
      We always had an observance, of course, but (after she was old enough to want a “party” with friends), we’d schedule that for Jan., after the holiday rush. Too many kids were simply unavailable for a friend party on Dec 23 with all their relatives in town and all the other Christmas rush.


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