I’m starting my Christmas decorating this weekend. I’d like to say that I’m also finishing my Christmas decorating this weekend, but MOH has a different idea of when it’s okay to put up Christmas decorations and I need his help with the tree. So there’s that.
When is the right time to put up Christmas decorations? It seems that a lot of people have opinions about that and also arbitrary rules that they apply not only to themselves, but others. “You’re not supposed to put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving,” or “You can put lights on athe house while the weather is still good, but you shouldn’t be turning them on until December.”
I don’t remember if my mom had a particular time that she decorated for the holiday. Staple ornamentation at our house included a multi-color lighted tree in our living room, five count electric candelabra for each of our main floor windows, and a huge Santa face that went in the upstairs front bedroom window. She also had a cathedral window that belonged on the piano. There were others, but these are the ones that I’ll remember for all of my life.
Mom told me that when she was little, Santa brought the Christmas tree to their house. Grandma would put it up on Christmas Eve after everyone went to bed and it came down on New Year’s Day. That made me a little sad. What a short amount of time for a child to enjoy something so wondrous. Because that’s why people put up Christmas lights and decorations, right? For enjoyment. For their own enjoyment. For the enjoyment of others. So why do people get so cranky about how others choose to celebrate.
When I was a kid, I was a walker. (Sorry TWD fans. In a kinder, gentler world, that meant I walked to school.) Every day my friends and I passed a house that had Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling of the enclosed porch all year long. “Her son was in the war,” a friend told me. “She put them up at Christmas time and decided she wouldn’t take them down until he came home, but he never did.” I don’t know if that story was true or not, but the Christmas lights remained lit in the window year round year after year, as long as she lived there. I never heard anyone complain.
Despite the occasional Scrooge, there is something about the holidays that make people nicer, friendlier, and more thankful. My boss from a previous job asked me once, “What is it about this time of year that makes people nicer. They smile and say hello, they hold the door for you, and they rush to help you when you fall behind on your work. How do you harness that and make people feel that joy all year round?” At the time, I’m sure I just stared at him blankly. I certainly had no answer, but I’ve thought about it many times over the years.
Last week (the week before Thanksgiving) my son and I stopped to grab a bite to eat at IHOP. It was quite late at night and we were one of only two occupied tables. It was quiet in the restaurant and we could hear the Christmas music quite clearly. “Really?” he groaned. “C’mon I’m not ready for Christmas music. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.” I was reminded of a saying I’d seen recently about joy and snow, so I adapted the phrase and told him, “Don’t let the Christmas music make you unhappy. The music won’t stop, but now you’ll be unhappy.”
Be happy everyone. Share the joy of the holidays. If it’s not hurting you, let people do their own thing. And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.