It was early November; I was driving from Charlotte, towards the North Carolina coast to a writing workshop retreat with my dear friend and fellow wannabe writer, Linda. Halloween was in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving, three weeks away, wasn’t ready to come into view through the windshield of life. Holidays were not of utmost importance as we drove towards our beach retreat destination. But there in our view from the two-lane rural road, we were on, happening often enough to make me exasperated were…
Christmas decorations and lights brightening up small homes and their yards.
“Seriously?!” I said to Linda, in a high-pitched voice, as we passed yet another decorated house. “Can we not give the turkey season its due? Why are people in a rush to skip Thanksgiving and plow right into Christmas? Aren’t there rules we should abide by? I mean, if you celebrate any other holiday, it is a certain day! The Fourth of July doesn’t get to begin right after Memorial Day. It’s so bad, that Christmas/holiday music started playing on some radio stations on November first, Christmas decorations were abundant in retail stores in early October, and Santa is setting up photo opportunities already at most malls and other retail outlets.”
After my bah-humbug tirade, I took a deep breath.
It was a warm southern 70 degrees and in my not-so-humble opinion, too early to begin the Christmas season decorating.
After the weekend of writing, which was awesome by the way, we traveled back through rural North Carolina toward our homes and saw some of the same decorations still holding hostage the houses that had yet to celebrate Thanksgiving. Then, on Tuesday morning at my group exercise class, a life lesson began by way of my instructor/friend saying, “Y’all, I have already put out my Christmas decorations and lights and I have a small gift for you.”
I stood up straight with a stiffened spine, and said, “So, you are one of them, huh?”
Aliens. People who break the no-decorating-for-Christmas-until-after-Thanksgiving rule must be from another planet.
I have never been part of putting out any Christmas decorations until, at the earliest, the day after Thanksgiving. Ever.
My exercise instructor/friend shared with me that she had a tough life with parents that were a long, long way from making the top ten of best parents ever. She does have a lot going well for her now though: a good husband, job, friends, and God whom she puts a lot of faith into.
She explained, “I deal with a lot of depression during the holiday season, and putting out the Christmas decorations and starting my giving early, makes me feel so much better.”
And with her comment, I had been hit between my narrow-view eyes, and my spine softened.
I’ve dealt with depression in my life for one reason or another. Some of it has been situational and some due to my DNA which causes me to run on emotional empty if I don’t take my meds, holiday or not. Both my parents passed away in 2020 within three months of each other, and holidays do make me miss and reminisce about them more than any regular day. And my current situation with my siblings is, well, let’s wait to discuss that another time. All of us have our grief and/or dysfunction, some worse than others, and we all deal with it in our own way. What’s good for me, may not be good for you. Some people need the strength of Solomon to push the pillars of grief and dysfunction away. And if breaking decorating rules makes people feel better, then I and others like me need to put our bah-humbug opinions on the shelf with the elf or other creature you may prefer.
If I were dreading the upcoming holidays, I don’t know that I would think putting out decorations and lights early would make me feel better. But as I type this from my comfortable chair in my living room and look around, I do have a LOT of fall stuff decorating my house. And for several weeks prior to and up through the night of Halloween, my husband did set up lighted Jack-o-lanterns that lit up our front yard. So maybe I do decorate with lights and stuff to cheer me up, prior to the day after Thanksgiving, it’s just not the candy cane or Santa theme.
I have wondered from time to time what some of the rationales are for people decorating early. Some people, like my exercise instructor/friend, need some extra pick-me-ups, or maybe someone is visiting for Thanksgiving but won’t be there for Christmas, so they celebrate Christmas early; or someone is getting ready to exit this world, and brightening up their view with decorations cheers everyone. I suspect there are other reasons. Maybe they love the decor of Christmas and for them, the sooner the decor is out, all the better. No excuse necessary to justify what they want for themselves. Okay, I can live with that attitude, but won’t be living my life that way.
During this thankful/grateful season, I always reflect on how blessed I am with many friends who light up my life in a multitude of ways with their life lessons and great gestures of kindness by way of connecting conversations that make an impact, and gracious gifts that speak from their souls including my exercise instructor/friend whose small gift in November was a Christmas theme cup with a candle in it. And I, who does not decorate with Christmas stuff before Thanksgiving, have it sitting on my kitchen counter and have already been ceremoniously lighting it to remind me of my friend. This keeps her utmost in my thoughts and prayers. My prayer is, that grace will sustain her and others who struggle during the holidays. It also makes our house smell pleasant, and hints that soon there will be a different décor in and outside our house.
Enjoy your holidays, however you manage to celebrate or get through them. May grace find its way to light up your world, through small gestures that may resemble a Christmas cup with a candle in it given by someone whose life is lit up by giving in a heartfelt way, and who admits to decorating for Christmas prior to Thanksgiving.
Happy holidays, Thanksgiving, Kwanza, Hanukkah, and merry Christmas. And if it makes you feel better to leave 2022 behind a bit early—happy New Year.