29 November 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

"After Thanksgiving, pumpkins just look out of place," I said to my sister and brother-in-law the day after Thanksgiving.

We were driving by a house in Burlington that had a row of pumpkins out on the deck. A day before, they were just-the-right-thing. They were appropriate and festive, but 24 hours later, they looked wrong to me.

"Are you going to blog about that?" my brother-in-law asked from the back seat. It must've been something in my tone that tipped him off. I said that pumpkin thing with a twinge of Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail when she's talking about autumn in New York City and she gets excited over Scotch tape.

Anything that sounds like a rhapsody on a completely normal thing is probably going to end up as my next blog post.

{Also, Sid has clearly picked up on my trick of testing out material on people I know. If I get a good response to something I say, I write about it. If you want me to stop writing and you know me, stop being enthusiastic, laughing, saying things like, "Oh, you should write about that!"}

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, I make the mental transition to Christmas. We're talking as soon as the dishes are clean and the leaves are taken out of the table so that it's back to its regular size {and not stretched to seat 10 people}—I'm ready for holly-jolly.

Given my demand that no Christmas decorations appear until after Thanksgiving, I know that I'm expecting too much of society. Slash expecting too much of myself.

For my demands to be met on a society-wide level, we need an army of elves or perhaps just a very committed group of volunteers, propelled by Christmas spirit and sugar and/or caffeine.

I want them to take down and properly deal with all fall-related decorations, which should be left up until Thanksgiving. Leaves in yards count as fall-related decorations.

Simultaneous to that, I need this little elf/sugar army to paint the town red. As in Santa Claus red, but it should be done tastefully. By that I mean according to my tastes.

No inflatable anything in the front lawn, but especially no inflatable snowglobes.

Nativity scenes should not be made of Disney characters. That's just confusing for the kids, who are trying to remember that Jesus isn't Santa Claus; we should not put on them trying to remember that Jesus isn't Mickey Mouse.

Every house should have a light theme: blue, white, multi-colored. Pick one kind and stick with it.

Those light-up deer—you know, the wireframe ones with twinkle lights on them—are acceptable.

There are other rules, but I won't get into them. I don't want to seem too demanding/judgmental/unappreciative of other people's Christmas cheer.

All of these strong opinions on decoration come out of an intense love of Christmas, its traditions, and the build-up of the season.

They also come out of an intense desire to welcome and appreciate and savor every season, especially the holiday season. I take great joy in anticipation, but as evidenced by my pumpkins-are-out-of-place thought, I incline toward a rush to move on.

Get to the next season.

The next celebration.

I don't like that inclination, that headlong fling, picking up speed as I race down the hill, falling forward into the next.

Does anyone else do this? Work so hard to appreciate the moment—and then jump ahead to the next?

I'm making an early new year's resolution to not do that this Christmas season. I will appreciate the build-up and the wind-down. I will not always be thinking of forging ahead, as if my being depended on newness.

To begin, my Christmas traditions, created several years ago to slow me down as the build-up to the holiday threatens to make me go too fast...
  • Watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show Christmas episode from the first season while putting up the tree
  • Meditate on the Magnificat at least 3 times a week
  • Read the Christmas story every week
  • Read A Miracle on 34th Street, the version I got from my aunt when I was 8, the one illustrated by Tommie DePaola
  • throw a Christmas cookie baking party {this year's party might be expanded to include crafts}
{Note to self: take down fall decorations tonight.}


  1. Oh, you definitely should do crafts! Then everyone can experience the transition to Christmas as *we* do!

  2. I agree with all of your Christmas decoration rules. Also, my sister-in-law once said "I don't like Christmas lights on deciduous trees" so take comfort in knowing there are people more picky than you.

  3. Val, I like your sister-in-law's rule and have decided to add it to my list of "Christmas decoration demands."

  4. Don't forget the glitter and the paint! ;)



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