Saturday, October 25, 2014

An open letter to Christmas decorations in October

Dear Santa, Rudolph, Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and Max, Angel choir, tree skits, twinkle lights, and all other Christmas decorations,

I wasn't expecting to see you yet so you'll have to excuse my shock and awkwardness upon encountering you at Target earlier today. I was looking for a fall wreath and well, you startled me. I was expecting pretty fall colors and leaves and instead I was assaulted by red and green and silver. It's funny, you were right next to a creepy clown mask. Normally, the clown would bother me but I was more concerned with your presence in the seasonal section.

Do me a favor. Find a calendar and go to October 2014. Take a close look at today. Can you tell me what today is?


I'm sorry about the shouting but it's October 25th. That means that's it 6 days until Halloween, 32 days until Thanksgiving, and 60 days until Christmas. Sixty days!!! By my calculations you should not be out in stores yet. Or on people's houses. Or up at the mall. It's not your turn.

I don't want you to think that I'm not a fan. Christmas is a wonderful time of year to be with family and celebrate all the magic of the season. I love holiday baking, especially cookies since when baking cookies I spend the day with my family. We laugh at things that aren't probably all that funny and have found a way to turn a snowman cookie into John Belushi. We have skills. I'm trying to be better about enjoying decorating the tree and my parents' house; they have a lot of decorations so I find it overwhelming. Last year I even made my own tree out of books and twinkle lights and it was wonderful. So I'm not opposed to decorations or the holiday spirit.

But it's not your turn! My two favorite holidays of the year come before you and I feel like you are stealing their thunder. Halloween and Thanksgiving deserve their time in the spotlight. I think it's time that we discuss what happens when you creep your way in before it's time.

The holidays are an event-filled, stressful time of year for many people, myself included. There are so many expectations: Thanksgiving dinner has to be Martha Stewart picture perfect despite the fact that most attendees have been day drinking and may not even make it to dinner; every relative you haven't seen recently will ask you why you're still single or why you don't have babies and make you feel as if you have failed at a significant part of life; your shopping list gets longer every year but you have no idea what to get anyone and they certainly don't want to give you any ideas; baking gets out of control because you just have to make one more batch of snowballs for your mother's sister's cousin's neighbor. I think the feeling can best be summarized by the wonderful Anne Bancroft in the film Home for the Holidays:

"I'm giving thanks that we don't have to go through this for another year. Except we do, because those bastards went and put Christmas right in the middle, just to punish us."

You see, Christmas decorations, when you show up sixty full days early you make it worse. We don't have time to enjoy the two best holidays of the year, Halloween and Thanksgiving, because we're already worrying about all the things we have to get done and are already "behind" on because it's October 25th and I haven't made my card list (or maybe made my cards), bought a fake tree off the tv (saw an ad this week), or decided which overpriced electronic device I will buy for my dad this year that he will promptly not use despite telling me that he wanted it. It's too much pressure!

Let's just forget about the stress of the holidays for a moment and think about the joys of fall. I haven't had time to fully settle into pumpkin spice flavored things or to bring out all my sweaters yet (since it's still in the 70s on occasion). I haven't seen the beauty of leaves changing colors and making the world seem like a postcard. I've only made pumpkin cookies with brown sugar icing one time. ONE TIME! That's just not enough. Honey crisp apples have only recently appeared at the grocery. And apple cider is only now warming our souls. Don't even get me started on the number of scary movies I haven't watched yet. And A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is still weeks away.

Can't we all just enjoy the beauty and majesty of fall? Can't we just have one experience at a time?

I know it's not really your fault, Christmas decorations. I'm sure you'd rather spend October and November gearing up for the big show that is December. Or maybe you'd rather reflect on all the meanings that you as a season have for people. That could mean any number of things from religious celebrations and festivities to celebrating the solstice or even the secular side of the season. Whichever path you want to explore, I know you'd rather do it at the appropriate time. Not in October. Not in November.

I want to feel like Jack Skellington when he goes through the tree door and finds himself in Christmastown for the first time. I want to wonder "What is this?" when I see a snowflake or a candy cane and look on in wonder when people gather for carols and to decorate their trees. It's impossible to feel that way when you show up months early and make my Type A personality start spinning with the fear that I am somehow behind on things that I never knew I needed to deal with in the first place. I don't think it's too much to ask to celebrate the holidays during the corresponding month. This is how the world is supposed to work.

Thanks for listening. Maybe we can work together to solve this problem so future generations can bask in the wonder of the season while still enjoying all that October and November have to offer. Maybe we can figure out a way for everyone to get the equal time they deserve.

Love and candy corns,

Jack in Christmastown

Next week: It's National Novel Writing Month (well it will be next Saturday)! I'll preview this year's novel and what to expect on the Island while I write a 50K word novel in one month.

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