Sights and Sounds of the Season (Weekend/Wednesday Assignment #293)

Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas in your neck of the woods?

Weekend Assignment #293: Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving ahead, and Christmas advertising has begun. So how about it? When do the holidays begin for you? Do you avoid thinking about Christmas and Hanukkah until after Thanksgiving, or is any time after Halloween okay? Is it time for Christmas lights in your neighborhood, and do the neighbors agree with you? How about Christmas music? When does that become okay, if ever?

Extra Credit: Have you bought any holiday presents yet? If not, when do you think you’ll start?

When do the holidays start? Too frickin’ soon, that’s when. Long before I’m ready for them.

Now that we have the Grinchiness out of the way…

When my sister and I were little, we used to start playing the Christmas records in August. My mother was far more patient with that nonsense than I would be. Now, if I start hearing holiday music before the end of November, it’s “rushing the season.” There’s a lot of Christmas music that I actually like – I just don’t want to listen to it, or sing it, until the calendar is edging into December. And I really don’t want to walk into Target on Halloween – in the morning, before anyone’s been out trick-or-treating yet – and see the Christmas-decoration department already set up in the “seasonal” corner of the store. However, since Target didn’t bother to ask me how I felt about it, I did indeed have to see that a few weeks ago.

I do have fleeting thoughts about the holiday season as early as the spring before. It’s usually because I’ve come across something that will make a fine Christmas gift for someone and I want to make sure I don’t forget about it (although if I actually buy it then, I may forget where I stashed it by December), or because I’m looking for a Christmas-tree ornament to commemorate a vacation (ornaments and refrigerator magnets are my favorite travel souvenirs). I also tend to start bugging my son about his holiday-travel plans somewhere around mid-September, but that’s mostly because I know he’s a master procrastinator – and now that he’s working and living on his own, I don’t buy his plane tickets for him any more. Aside from that, I try not to give too much thought to the holidays until early November, and that’s still mostly thinking – I’ll do my best to avoid doing much about them for a few more weeks.

We have just gotten started on our Christmas gift shopping, but my mental window on the holidays won’t officially open till Thanksgiving Day. The stores may be decorated already, but we probably won’t start to see lights and lawn decor around the neighborhood till then. Around here, though, it almost doesn’t matter – no matter how ornate your decorations are, or when you put them up, it never looks all that much like Christmas in Southern California.

not even at this place, affectionately known around town as “The House That Threw Up Christmas”

We may be putting up our Christmas tree quite late this year – possibly not until a week or so before Christmas – because my stepson’s birthday is in mid-December and his party is planned for the weekend of December 19. Birthdays near Christmas tend to get shortchanged, and we don’t want the holiday to take attention away from him on his own celebration; besides, we’ll probably need the space the tree would be occupying. But we can start doing some of the other holiday decorating any time after Thanksgiving – and we can also start watching our favorite holiday movies! Watching A Christmas Story on Thanksgiving weekend has become a family tradition. Avoiding stores as much as we can on Thanksgiving weekend is also a tradition.

Are you and your house getting into holiday mode yet? Tell me about it here, and you still have time to tell everyone about it in answer to this week’s Assignment question. Here are the guidelines:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, November 20th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to the lead post at Outpost MΓ’varin.
  3. Please return to the lead post after you’ve posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants’ entries is strongly encouraged!

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  • We're usually the last ones to put up our Christmas decorations. I do love Christmas and our Christmas tree but not for months at a time. One of our neighbors has had their Christmas decorations up since November 1.

  • Kathy (Bermudaonion) – I usually like to get the tree and decorations up by the second week of December, but I think we'll be the last ones in our neighborhood to get it done this year too.

    November 1?! Are these the same people who don't take the decorations down until February :-)?

  • I'm with you on keeping an eye out for presents throughout the year. We were lucky enough to hit a great craft fair in October and get lots of people marked off the list.

    I tend to lack moderation when it comes to Christmas, so I try *really hard* not to do any decorating before Thanksgiving. After that, it's no-holds-barred Hallmark movies, Christmas carols and garland everywhere.

  • Christmas music in August? That would drive me bonkers. πŸ™‚

    We are late starters on all that stuff. We don't do a whole lot of decorating, so I don't know what our problem is. πŸ™‚

    We have a radio station her that goes to all Christmas music during the season. IT started last weekend, which is kind of late for them. I think people started to complain that they were starting too early.

  • I was just telling a friend, it's the calm before the holiday storm! Our holidays will be so different this year and that's what I'm most looking forward to. We're doing Thanksgiving at D-land, and going to NYC for Xmas. Presents will be very, very limited. Or so I hope!

  • I love that you started singing Christmas songs in August! My stepdaughters' birthdays are at the end of November and the beginning of January. By the end of it all, I am DONE with celebrations! πŸ™‚

  • TexasRed – I'm not always consistent about it, but sometimes I just stumble across something that seems just right for someone, and I don't know if I'll see it again, so I just need to snap it up when I find it :-).

    Mike – I don't do it any more – it's been YEARS :-)! I think the "all-Christmas" radio station around here is already at it, but since I don't actually listen to it, I don't know for sure.

    April – I'm envious that you'll be in NYC for the holidays (unless there's a blizzard and you get stuck there :-D)! You and the girls won't need a lot of other gifts; you're having experiences. Take lots of pictures, though!

    Amy RGB – I get that! My ex-husband's birthday is in mid-December (same day as my stepson's – how weird is THAT?) and our wedding anniversary was in January, so I used to consider that the span of our holiday season.

  • The idea of buying a gift or ornament earlier in the year and then not knowing where it is when the time comes definitely resonates with me. At least two presents I've bought in the past decade or so were actually sent out more than a year later, on a different Christmas entirely!

  • Karen – I've done that too, but I can't remember the details :-).

  • When my mother and sister-in-law bug me for "wish lists" for everyone in my family before Halloween, it makes me feel grinchy. I have to wait until December to start Christmas shopping. Sometimes I have some souvenirs from travel saved for gifts, but usually I start from scratch. It helps that my academic quarter is over at the end of November and I don't go back to teaching until January 2.

  • Jeanne – My husband starts working on his own wish list in September, since his birthday's in October and he figures that whatever he doesn't get then can carry over to Christmas. That's fine for him, but it makes him start asking the kids and me for lists early, and we're not ready!

    I'm sure it does help to have all of December off :-).

  • Dare I confess that I sing Christmas carols year round? Let It Snow seemed to be a favorite of mine this summer. Maybe I hoped it would cool me down on those hot days . . .

    Some years I get all of my Christmas shopping done early and other years I'm still shopping for gifts last minute (it's one of those last minute years this year).

    I confess I didn't put up any Christmas decorations last year and I probably won't again this year. I love this time of year, but lately I can only thing about how I don't want to have to clean it all up and put it away after. Talk about bah humbug.

  • Wendy (Literary Feline) – Now that you mention it, I think that part of why my sister and I used to start playing Christmas music in August was to help us imagine cold weather during those "3 H" (hazy, hot, and humid) Connecticut summers :-).

    And I totally get not decorating for Christmas because of not wanting to think about taking it all down afterwards. Fortunately, your pets won't expect a tree – it's harder to get away with skipping the decorating when you have kids :-).

  • Not to mention the cats. Children are less likely to try and climb the tree–at least the older ones. Cats are harder to keep away. πŸ™‚ I'll never forget the year Parker was climbing our tree and sent it spinning with him hanging on for dear life. LOL