When I was growing up, we put our tree up the second weekend in December, and it came down promptly on New Year’s Day. I was always so excited about our family tradition, which consisted of going out to breakfast, walking through a cut-your-own tree forest, and bringing the tree home to decorate.
My mother would put on the one Christmas record we had — the Ray Conniff Singers — and make popcorn, chips, and dip, and then my sisters and I spent hours throwing tinsel at the tree. It wasn’t anything fancy or over-the-top, but it was a highlight of my year.
Those Saturdays spent welcoming in the holiday season are my absolute favorite childhood memories. But three short weeks was never enough time for me to admire the decorations. After Christmas was over, I was so let down and sad that I vowed to make this magical time last longer when I was growing up. And I’ve stuck to it.
When I got my first apartment after I graduated college, I’d go to the tree lot and throw the smallest Douglas Fir they had into my trunk. I’d decorate with candles in each window, get my wreath on the door and play Christmas music every second I was home. This started sometime in early November and continued about a week into the new year.
My friends and family made fun of me, reminding me it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet — something I was already well aware of — and told me it was too soon. Too soon for what? Peace, love, and joy? Too soon for holiday cheer and looking at your Christmas tree as you sip your hot cocoa? Too soon to feel some of the magic I loved as a child? Too soon to do something that lifts my spirits up as nothing else can? I don’t think so. It’s never too soon to spark those kinds of feelings. And so I’m still at it, years later.
The older I get, the sooner I decorate. My three teenagers don’t get excited like they used to and don’t really like to help me turn the house into a snow globe, but I don’t care. I turn up the Christmas classics and go about my business anyway. I love putting some mirrored disco balls on the mantle and hanging the fuzzy stockings, and there are always twinkling lights wherever I can make them work.
You see, decorating for the holidays is for me. It brings me immense happiness.
Some tell me I’m skipping right over perfectly good holidays and rushing into the season. But if you’ve never eaten a Thanksgiving dinner with Christmas cheer bouncing all around you, then you wouldn’t know how wonderful it truly is. I encourage you to try it!
The way I see it, when I wait until after Thanksgiving to start decorating and celebrating Christmas, the season seems too short. I want to enjoy time in my home while it’s decorated. If I did it after Thanksgiving, I feel like it would be a mad rush to get it done, then do all the shopping, wrapping, baking, and visiting. I’m exhausted just thinking about that.
I love having it all done when things get busy. And it’s so nice having someone come over for a visit and feeling like you’ve set the stage for a festive visit.
I will never stop decorating for the holidays as early as I want. People can complain, send me hate messages after I post a picture on Instagram, and tell me it’s way too soon all they want. I can’t hear anyone’s protests about decorating before Thanksgiving over all the joy it brings me.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.
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