Today is the appointed day that we are decorating the house for Christmas. Jason grew up in a family where they decorated a week or so before Christmas, and I grew up in a house where my birthday was supposed to be over before my mom hauled the Christmas stuff out. My birthday is December 8th and that was far too late for me. I wanted to start Christmas decorating in October, and I'm only partially joking.
When I grew up, moved out and lived on my own, I set my tree up November 15th. I felt that was a reasonable amount of time to enjoy my decorations before Christmas was over. Other people felt differently, and were usually very vocal in their disagreement. What is it about the timing of Christmas trees and lights that creates so much dissension among people?
It isn't actually about the decorations at all. It's about people's families, as most things are, and it goes all the way back to our earliest memories, so for good or evil, we lean towards pessimism or optimism when it comes to the holiday season. As a kid I detested having my birthday fall in December. I mean Loathed with a capital L. My friends and my siblings would often try to get away with saying, "I combined your birthday and Christmas present this year" and then my gift at Christmas would be exactly the same as everyone else's. I never bought that excuse, and always felt ripped off.
My mom was usually tapped out and tired by my birthday, which I understand as an adult but not so much as a kid. My birthday fell just a few days after hers, and my dad was not winning any prizes for fabulous gifts, parties or cakes in my mom's honour, so I think the emotions were running high around both of our birthdays. As an adult, I Love having my birthday in the Christmas season (with a capital L). What a difference a few years makes in your perspective from a child to a grown up.
I always loved Christmas, but as a parent, I've been able to take it up a notch, and I make every effort to create a special environment and mood for my kids. I love how the excitement builds with each day, and we try to wring every last experience and emotion from the anticipation and beauty inherent in the season. Jason needs a little gentle encouragement in this area, as his Christmas spirit kicks into high gear around December 18th, when he remembers it starting as a child, but a week is not nearly enough for me. I've been making Christmas cards and listening to Christmas music since early September, which gives you some idea how nutty in love with Christmas I really am.
I don't mind that other people have different ideas about when you should decorate. I'm not marching into your house and putting a tree up for you against your will. I just ask that you don't rain on my proverbial Christmas parade (or snow on it, which is probably a better choice of words for this time of year). We all celebrate differently, and even if my early way is slightly better than yours, it's polite not to point that out. I dream of a world where the early decorators and the late ones find some kind of middle ground, where everyone is happy and no one is irritated with each other.
This season is about giving and peace and the kind of joy and wonder that only shows up on a child's face at Christmas time. It's not about overspending and giving kids 150 elaborate gifts and fighting mall crowds for ten stressful hours. It's about loved ones, both friends and family, sipping frothy and festive Starbucks drinks and creating the kind of memories that will last us through the next year, until Christmas comes again sometime in mid to late November.