It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas


It’s that time again! Time to dig out the ornaments, unearth the endless strings of lights (each with exactly one bad bulb in it), and root through the storage boxes in search of caroling snowmen and handmade stockings! I have, once again, won the Christmas decorating showdown!

It starts every year on the first of November. Just when everyone else is groaning over the sudden appearance of Christmas trees at Walmart–before the Halloween candy is even put on clearance–I start to feel a little tingle in my skin and a lightness to my step, signaling the rush of cinnamon-scented holiday hormones into my system. I hear those sleigh bells jingling–ring-ting-tingling, too–and I get out my scarf and mittens, even if it’s still sixty degrees outside. I find myself humming “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as I do the grocery shopping, and the endless lists of what to buy for whom pleasantly consume my waking thoughts. I buy ingredients for pounds of homemade peanut butter fudge and gallons of spiced cider, and I light enough candles to make the apartment smell like pine trees and gingerbread until next summer. I prod Katie to start her letter to Santa, a missive which I know from experience will be written, edited, and rewritten several times before it reaches its final destination in my file of Christmas memorabilia.

And I start to work on Paul.

Let me start by saying that I am not crazy. Clearly, the idea of putting up Christmas decorations before Halloween is patently ridiculous.

But what’s wrong with starting in November? Christmas isn’t just a holiday, after all; it’s a season. I believe, of course, that the ideals of love, family, giving, and joy are meant to saturate our lives throughout the year. But for a couple of months every year, Hallmark and Toys ‘R’ Us happily join in on the fun–shouldn’t that fun start as soon as possible?

Not long after we were married, I discovered that Paul, like many others, doesn’t feel a need to decorate for Christmas until the weekend after Thanksgiving. Very logical. Very reasonable. Very sensible.

The woman he married, on the other hand, is really none of those things. I want Christmas–and the earlier the better!

The first time I got Paul to budge on his holiday decorating timetable was in 1998, when I was (extremely) pregnant with Katie. When I announced on the first weekend of November that I intended to decorate the house for Christmas that Saturday, Paul didn’t protest, possibly out of fear of provoking a 200-pound woman with buckets of progesterone coursing wildly through her veins. We invited some friends over, played Christmas CDs, and drank mulled cider while I directed the decking of the halls from my very comfortable rocker. It was wonderful.

Since that year, we’ve been back-and-forth on the whole holiday decorating issue, both of us compromising and capitulating in turn when the holiday approaches. As October gives way to November, we each jot our respective talking points down on notecards and get ready to enter the fray.

It’s not just a matter of throwing some decorations up, of course. If that were all, I could drag out the boxes and shower jingle bells around the place whenever I liked. No, I want the event. The hot-cocoa-drinking, carol-singing, popcorn-stringing family fun night of Official Christmas Spirit. I want to gather around in warm sweaters and slippered feet to watch the deeply traditional Assembling of the Tree (don’t get me started on the “fake tree vs. real tree” debate–we lived in the heart of Oregon timber country when we bought it and had to beat back a lynch mob to even get it out of the store.) I want to videotape while my kids hang ornaments and talk about where and when we got each one. I want to lovingly place my decorative snowmen and Santas on the shelves and string the holly garland over the window. I want to hang the Christmas stockings I made myself high on the wall, where they will oversee the Christmas season in all their stately, crookedly-stitched glory. I want to turn the lights off in anticipation of the moment Paul will flip the switch and bathe the living room in the soft, warm lights of the tree, holding Katie up so she can put the star on the top like she’s been doing since she was old enough to hold it. I want to bask in the glow of Christmas tradition and stretch the most delicious of holidays out for as long as possible, so I can savor it through the rest of the year.

It occurs to me, as I write this, that our merry tussling over Christmas decorating has become a sort of family tradition in itself, a sweet-spirited inside joke that only adds to the laughter and the fun of the season.

So think of us this Friday, November 18th, when our little corner of Idaho will be decorating for Christmas. Drop by, if you like. Come for the crazy people and stay for the goodies. I’m sure there will be plenty of hot cocoa.

15 responses »

  1. So, you’re one of THOSE people, that my hubby makes fun of. We aren’t, but for a very different reason. Well, maybe…first, we like to enjoy each holiday, so the thought of having our Christmas tree up & decorated while eating our Thanksgiving dinner just doesn’t bode well for us. Second, my oldest son’s birthday is on Dec. 4th, so I promised myself that we would not overshadow his birthday with Christmas. So far, so good! My 2nd child was born on the 16th, but by that time, the tree is up and we’ve gotten used to seeing it. We still make sure to celebrate her birthday without the mention of Christmas (on that day, anyway). Third, decorating has become my responsibility, thanks in large party to my love of the traditions that I grew up, but hubby didn’t. In his house, his mother did all of the decorating, while his dad – didn’t! So far, that seems to be the case in our house. Although, I have managed to get hubby in involved in the picture and home movie taking while the kids ‘help’ me dig through and set-up everything. It’s fun, but not nearly as big an event as it is with you 🙂

    BTW, this Friday we’ll be celebrating my 33rd birthday 🙂 So, while you’re decorating, think of me and the fact that I’m getting so old!!!

  2. First of all, I’ll bring the chocolate covered pretzels and I’ll see you on Friday. Second, what do you mean “final destination in my file of Christmas memorabilia”?!

  3. Drink a cup of Eggnog for me, and I’ll sing a few carols for you. 🙂

    We haven’t begun the holiday decorating yet, but we will after Thanksgiving. Whether he wants it or not. LOL. You know Chris, he is more of a putting up the tree Christmas eve kinda guy. 🙂

    Loves shoes.

  4. Bravo! Well said sister!:)
    I agree whole-heartedly! And I think somehow I won the right brother for this. He knows that Christmas is MY time. (in Goonie words)So he doesn’t really mess with me much. Plus he knows I’m stubborn enough, he won’t win THIS argument.:)LOL But we LOVE our tree & it will be going up soon. I don’t know if it’s this weekend soon, but by the latest, the day after Thanksgiving after I get done shopping at 4am.
    It IS a wonderful time of year.
    And to Jennifer: MAJOR kudos to you for not letting Christmas interupt the life of birthdays for children.
    ~From a little girl with sucky birthdays all her life on Dec 22 when NO ONE was ever in town for a party…or had any money!

  5. Jules – My birthday (as I mentioned to Katrina) is this week on the 17th. Can you believe that I too grew up with those dreaded birthday-Christmas presents from family? Although, since mine isn’t quite as close to Cmas as yours is, I usually had a really great party. But anyway, I made all of my immediate family – as well as hubby’s – promise to never give my kids bday-cmas gifts. So far, so good 🙂

    When I was pregnant, that was the first thing I thought of when I discovered the due date for each one. I always said I’d never have a Nov, Dec, or Jan baby so this wouldn’t happen – but alas, two of them were born in Dec just weeks apart, and weeks away from Christmas. Just goes to show…NEVER SAY NEVER!

  6. We’re going to celebrate Festivus this year, and want to make sure that it doesn’t overshadow Christmas, so we’re having it 12/22 instead of the traditional 12/23. I’m really looking forward to this year’s Feats of Strength. You’re all invited. Having a bunch of new people will make the Airing of Grivences much more bearable.

  7. Jennifer~ I am so happy to hear there is another mom out there keeping their children safe from the dreaded “combo” gift!LOL:)
    My friend has a daughter born the 17th of Christmas, but she usually waits till January to have her party & do the big stuff.
    Now that I’m an adult, mostly people just forget my birthday, not try the combo gift. When I was first married, my husband (we couldn’t afford much) turned Christmas paper inside out & drew all over it so it wasn’t Christmas paper on my birthday gift! How sweet is that?! So I know at least ONE person will remember all the “rules” on my birthday & shoot! Just remember it!LOL:)

  8. To all the merry like-minded souls out there–thanks for your support! Some of us were just blessed with enough Christmas spirit to spread around!

    Jennifer and Julie–I agree that having family birthdays close to Christmas can definitely change the pacing of the whole holiday season. Bravo for making sure each one gets his own special day. (Of course, you could still decorate for the holidays and leave the birthday entertaining up to Chuck E. Cheese!)

    Also, Happy Birthday, Jennifer! I won’t be 33 until August, so you’ll have to let me know if this is the year we get magically imbued with all the wisdome of the ages (or at least enough to figure out which child is actually the culprit when you stumble across a pile of dog hair and a pair of safety scissors in the living room.)

    Dixiegirl–I’ll certainly indulge your taste for eggnog, although it will have to be the store bought kind. Our treasured family recipe has raw eggs in it, and no booze to kill the salmonella. 🙂

    Bishop–Festivus spirit springs eternal! I’m hoping to see an additional event added to the Feats of Strength this year–something involving juggling a two year old in one arm while simultaneously keeping a lock-grip on a six year old, talking on a cell phone, and pushing a grocery cart around Walmart. If your wife is anything like as swamped as I am at times, be sure to set aside several hours for the Airing of Grievances. 🙂

  9. I plan to decorate early next week! I love how my house looks all festive and cozy for the holidays! Plus, who wants to dig all of that stuff out after traveling for Thanksgiving. We won’t be in full holiday display from the outside until after Turkey Day, but I plan to recruit the kids and get to work starting Sunday or Monday. YAY!

  10. I sneak the holidays in. Sometime September, I pull out the music, then bit by bit, the snowmen show up on the shelves, the Christmas scented candles come out. No kidding, yesterday, my whole house smelled like egg nog. It was awesome. Unfortunately, it took a combination of three different candles, two of which are now gone. Jennifer and Jules, I hear ya on the holiday birthday. I was born on Thanksgiving, and although my b-day is only on Thanksgiving every six or seven years, I am still teased every year about being the family turkey.

  11. Debi~ Gobble gobble friend, gobble gobble!:)
    I guess we gotta embrace what we were given.LOL:)
    Happy Birthday, I guess try not to eat any turkey on your birthday. Ha!

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