You may have noticed that the Christmas season is underway. Unless you don’t go online, watch TV, listen to the radio or leave your house, chances are that you’re aware. Historically, the colourful argument for this time of year was ‘Real Vs. Artificial Tree’ but with the retail blitz on TV and radio, ‘Mall Santas’ starting up this weekend and city workers already adorning streets with wreaths and angels, it begs another question: Is it too early?
As a self-proclaimed Christmas-Meister, as far back as I can remember, once Halloween came and went the holiday season was in full flight. When I was old enough to realize it, I adjusted that until after Remembrance Day as a sign of respect but with that said, it is very likely that when the sun sets on November 12th my home has its exterior Christmas lights glowing. The tree and interior decorations go up around December 1st and gift shopping is also generally done by that time but to be fair, my kids all have birthdays between mid-November and early December so we need to buy gifts anyway. It also seems that everyone wants to start hosting their seasonal parties by mid-November so since we are already entrenched in the season it only seems logical that November 12th is the unofficial start of Christmas Season. I found out today that not everyone shares my view.
For years I always thought that my brother-in-law was a little off because he insisted the tree does not go up until December 23 and comes down on Boxing Day (my sister has since pushed him to get the tree up by mid-December). A colleague at work also believes that November is way too early to be in Christmas mode. He feels that December 1st is a fair timeline for outdoor lights and mid-December for decorations and a tree. His argument is that most people are either unaware or uninterested in the actual meaning of the holiday and the earlier it all starts (meaning decorations and the retail blitz), the more commercialized and less meaningful the actual point of it becomes. I don’t necessarily disagree with that view but I do not see the harm in my mother’s explanation for the way we have always done things. She loves Christmas and since she always starts her baking by mid-November, we always had decorations, lights and a tree up by early December (we fall on the ‘Artificial’ side of the old argument). When I asked her about it she told me that it made the house feel festive and since it was so much work to decorate, why not enjoy it a little longer. I still live by that mantra.
Obviously, over the years the meaning of Christmas has become less obvious to the average person as the holiday has become more and more commercialized. Charles Shulz used his Peanuts to discuss this exact issue back in 1965 when A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired. It was clearly becoming an issue back then and presently, in this age of acronyms and emojis, we seem to find a way to summarize instead of revisiting it fully. We use the “Coles Notes” version of it if you will (absolutely no one under 30 will get that reference). There is certainly room to share the true meaning and find some time to put up lights before the calendar turns to December. The key is to find that happy median between enjoying the commercial elements and celebrating the true meaning of the season. We can’t control some of the silliness but as long as we are using the season to spend time with family and friends and spread a little cheer, that solidifies the spirit of Christmas.
So regardless of your opinion of when decorations should go up, you can be sure that I am fully aware of exactly what we are celebrating. Even if the outside of my house is glowing on November 12th.