There are plenty of places – mostly places like Target – that have been looking like Christmas ever since early October, when the Christmas trees and the Halloween decorations were living next door to each other for a few weeks. And I think there have always been people who started on their Christmas-gift shopping (or -making) months ahead of time, but they weren’t always accompanied by suitable music when they were doing it in August. That is, unless they were doing their shopping in places like a store that we visited during our Tennessee trip back in May of this year, where it’s Christmas all year long – at The Incredible Christmas Place, it’s been that way for 20 years.
Despite my weakness for Christmas-themed stores, and my hobby of collecting Christmas-tree ornaments from places I go on vacation, I’m pretty much a traditionalist as far as my official recognition of the start of the Christmas season – not a day before Thanksgiving. I’ve been kind of superstitious about doing much Christmas shopping in advance ever since the year that First Husband bought my gift during a vacation trip in early June, and moved out on the second weekend in December. There have been several years when it was quite difficult for me to get my psychological landscape looking much like Christmas at all. Also, I’ve lived over half my life in places where the physical landscape is, let’s say, meteorologically unlikely to look much like the popular images of Christmas, period.
But now it’s time. Santa has brought up the rear of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – while I rarely watch it, I did grow up near New York City, and this tradition that’s as old as my father is part of my frame of reference – and officially ushered in the season, shopping and all. (I avoid the rites of Black Friday, which is still a big event for many, regardless of the crowds and the alternative of shopping online.) Theoretically, we could start decorating the house any time now, but since we want to do it when the kids are here to be part of it, it’s probably not going to get done in earnest for another couple of weekends. From now on, I’ll officially stop ignoring Christmas decorations elsewhere. We’ve put out the call for wish lists from various family members, particularly the younger ones, and chances are we’ll be at a store or two with those lists some time this weekend.
Tall Paul and I had been eagerly looking forward to one of our new holiday traditions, but pledged not to rush it; however, we decided the time was right after Thanksgiving dinner. We were latecomers to A Christmas Story; when we discovered prior to our first holiday season together that neither of us had ever seen it, we bought a copy of the DVD so we could share the experience. Last year we introduced my stepkids to the trials and triumphs of a 1940’s, small-town-Indiana Christmas, and this year all of us watched it with the grandparents. (My dad grew up in that era, if not that locale, and he thought it was a hoot.) I hope we can watch it more than once this year – it’s the rare comedy that seems like it gets funnier on repeated viewings – and I’d like to see it become a post-Thanksgiving-dinner tradition around here.
I think one of the things that makes me sad about the way that the Christmas season seems to start so early is that it seems like it ends too soon; the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas didn’t actually start until Christmas Day, after all. If we’re going to spend so much time on the preparation, wouldn’t it be nice if we spent more of it on the celebration? That’s another thing I’d like to see become a tradition around here.