Can I talk about a pet-peeve for a moment? Okay… (deep breath in, deep breath out).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge. I like Christmas a lot, I really do, particularly now that Christmas is representative of a family cultural tradition that never existed for P before, it has more meaning for me. I never felt that the holiday had a personal spiritual pull, but I can really embrace the cultural aspects of it. I try not to buy into a lot of the consumerism that surrounds the holiday, but I like different pieces of it… like Christmas carols, and cookie baking, and putting up my fake tree that sits in storage most of the year. I enjoy getting holiday cards and sticking them around the doorway in the living room like my Grandmother does…
But one thing that drives me bonkers every year is how early the Christmas “season” starts. I was really bothered when I walked into our local grocery store on October 31st and all the Halloween candy had been replaced with candy canes and red and green foil-wrapped chocolates. October 31st! They couldn’t even wait for Halloween to be officially over! The next day the grocery store replaced the pumpkins outside with little evergreen centerpieces with red and green bows, and not too long after that I saw Christmas trees being sold in an empty lot on my way home from work.
My sisters and my mother’s family are of the opinion that the Christmas “season” begins when Santa arrives at the end of the Macy’s Day Parade on Thanksgiving. As kids we used to watch it while at my grandmother’s house, and it was always very exciting to see Santa arrive. I’m fine with that… at least Thanksgiving is almost December. But October? Come on people.
I try to refrain from any Christmas celebrating (tree decorating, carol-listening, holiday parties, etc) in my house until December 1st. I’m happy to keep the Christmas season confined to one month, and only one month of the year. Otherwise I feel it is too much. I’m glad that I don’t work in retail… my sister who has a part-time job at a department store says they have been listening to Christmas songs for a month now, and in college I worked at a bookstore that had so much extra holiday stuff crammed in it was hard to walk around! At least we don’t have a tv so we don’t see a lot of the holiday advertisements in between programs.
P trys to help keep me to my promise of “Christmas in December Only.” Before we departed the apartment for our Thanksgiving roadtrip south he warned me that he hid the Christmas cds so I wouldn’t feel tempted, and when scanning the radio if I fell on a station playing carols we would move on to a different station. It’s not to be mean or un-festive, we are just trying to control how overblown the Christmas holidays have become. Let Halloween and Thanksgiving have their time and space, Christmas already has a full month.
It is hard to think of the Christmas season from the perspective of a family who never celebrated the holiday, but I would imagine for those who don’t celebrate it must get annoying when everywhere you turn there is something Christmas oriented, even if it is dressed up as “non-denominational holiday” festivities. It is truly hard to escape. However, I’ve grown up in a household that has fully embraced Christmas, so I even have a hard time imagining life without it.
For example: The first Christmas season that P and I were dating he came back with me from school so that he could meet my family before flying home to Nepal for his first visit in almost three years. My mother had a hilarious conversation with him, because she just couldn’t fathom a culture that didn’t celebrate Christmas. It went something like this:
Mom: “So, in Nepal-India, what do you do for Christmas?” (for a while she didn’t realize they were two separate countries).
P: “My family is Hindu, we don’t celebrate Christmas.”
Mom: “Yeah, but, you must put a tree up or something, right?”
P: “Nope, we are Hindu, so we don’t celebrate the holiday.”
(This goes on for a little while, with different pieces of Christmas iconography…)
Mom: “But you must have lights… I mean, everyone has lights… like in your window?”
P: “No… we don’t put up lights. We aren’t Christian, so we don’t celebrate Christmas.”
Mom: “But everyone puts lights! You don’t put lights for Christmas? Not even the stores? The stores must!”
P: (sensing my mom just couldn’t understand, he compromises…) “Well, maybe in some of the stores in the tourist district, but otherwise not really. A lot of people are Hindu or Buddhist, so most people don’t celebrate Christmas.”
Mom: (grasping on to something…) “ah, see that sounds right… at least the stores celebrate…”
So the point I am getting at is, December 1st has come and gone, thus officially opening the Christmas season in my house. This week the tree will go up and the carols will play. But don’t come knocking on my door November 3rd expecting any Christmas cookies!