When I was little, the week off for Christmas break seemed like a glorious eternity. The waiting, the preparation, the no school, finally to culminate in the fabulous family holiday. That week was all I needed for the holidays and more, any more of a wait would have been excruciating. It seems lately though, that the holidays are more like whole seasons, but the year is chunked out into three groups rather than four. Summertime has stayed the same and encompasses barbecuing, vacations, swimming, Fourth of July, warm weather, all of that good stuff. It now starts sometime around the first day warm enough to wear shorts and flip flops and lasts until the first week of school. When I was growing up summer was clear cut. Last day of school till first day of school. That's it. Now the commercials start earlier, "CAN'T WAIT FOR SUMMER??" and the planning gets into full swing for summer camps when you're still wearing winter coats.
The next season starts right away and that is the HOLIDAYS. You might say, oh wait there's Halloween in there, fall, pumpkin spiced lattes! Yes. Those things are all lumped together into the Major Holiday Season. Get your apple picking in quick because those pumpkins come up fast. You miss a weekend to pick apples and you're behind the pumpkin eight ball. Halloween is not more than a blip on the Major Holiday radar though. You start picking out a costume sometime around when school starts and you had better buy that candy early because guess what? If you show up at the grocery store ON Halloween you will witness them actually removing the Halloween candy and putting up candy canes. In the middle of the afternoon on Halloween. There is no in between time. Halloween also has to compete with Thanksgiving, with menu ideas and crafting ideas and all sorts of ideas for that one day dedicated to eating coming out way before Halloween. Thanksgiving might as well be called Christmas Lite due to how much it is overwhelmed by the monster holiday. So we have the HalloThanksMas glut which starts like I said, right after the first day of school. It's a slow build with Halloween, then the roar gets louder with Thanksgiving, and then bam, IT IS CHRISTMAS!! What's that? It's only mid-November? That's okay, Santa is already here, no biggie. Oh what? You want to enjoy Thanksgiving before you have to focus on Christmas? You can! Until 8pm when the stores now open for Black Friday. No more getting to sleep on Thanksgiving for you bargain hunters, no no no, you don't even have time to digest before you are hitting those stores! Better bring some pumpkin flavored coffee to counteract that tryptophan!
The other day I dutifully pulled my Halloween decorations in (even though pumpkins technically count for Thanksgiving too, right?) and left it suitable for Thanksgiving, and then when I was driving home I saw some neighbors stringing up their Christmas lights. Already? The way it goes lately though, to them it was probably late. The Christmas music is in full swing already, here in Pre-December (technically called November). Who cares if you're going to be sick of it two weeks earlier since it started three weeks early! People want Rudolph NOW when they're still able to drive with the windows down on some afternoons!
And forget it if you don't celebrate these holidays, you will be inundated with them by everything from cream cheese and seltzer flavors to Target commercials and radio jingles. The Christmas Train comes through every station early and often, impossible to ignore.
Now, before you call me Mamatoga Scrooge, let me just say that I love the holidays, I really do! I get to see my family, I get a little downtime (or is it more work with kids? I forget at this point...). I get to take out my cute little reindeer plates and play the old holiday movies for the kids that I watched when I was little. I love hanging the decorations and getting out the Advent calendar, it's so incredibly fun. It's just that, some of the fun is sucked out of it by rolling everything out so early. Can't we just do one at a time? Has ANYONE ever complained about there NOT BEING CANDY CANES ON NOVEMBER 1st?? No. No one has ever. December 1st is a perfectly normal time to put out the candy canes, start the music, get Santa in that seat. DECEMBER. Not November. November is for paper hand turkeys and historically inaccurate Pilgrim stories. November is for trying to decide if you really want to make a turducken or if that is just crazy talk. Eggnog should really be the only thing that encroaches on both holidays. That lone drink can make it's appearance, rightfully so, as the one thing that really belongs on both Holiday tables (besides alcohol, obv).
Now, I'm not judging you people who have already put your trees up. If you can handle that much holiday cheer then more power to you. But let me suggest a few guidelines, for the way I think it should be, ahem:
- Christmas/Holiday music should start after Thanksgiving, not before
- No Christmas/Holiday decorations out/up in stores (including candy) until post Thanksgiving (unless you are the Christmas Shop, then you get a pass)
- Santa needs to start making an appearance after December 1st, my kids don't need that much time to suck up to/worry about angering an imaginary person
- All of the appropriate holiday movies (Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin, Rudolph, etc.) need to come out just ONE WEEK in advance of the holiday. It isn't special if you watch The Christmas Story the first week of November. It's supposed to be a once a year type of thing.
- People who finish their holiday shopping early, please do not post about that accomplishment on facebook. You are only making other people silently curse you.
- Furthermore, people who are getting amazing deals on Black Friday, let me give you money to get me stuff next time. There is still no way I am attempting that. Especially not a few hours after a giant Thanksgiving meal.
Basically, I just want the holidays to first and foremost be separate entities, and secondly, I want them to be special. Special because they are only here for a short time. Special because as we have all heard, it isn't about the buying and the baking and the planning and the spending and the decorating. That stuff can be great, but haven't we all felt that holiday let down? Here you've been stressing and freaking out over what and when and how and how much and afterward you're left with a sink full of dirty "special" dishes and a sea of torn up wrapping paper that you lost the dog in and kids playing with a toy they may have already broken.
That brings me to that third season, also known as "Eh" (shrug shoulders for the full effect). Christmas is over, if you have kids New Year's Eve is pretty boring, then there's Valentine's Day. Big deal. I got over Valentine's Day when I was a junior in high school. St. Patrick's Day? Again, if you have kids you might see a green cupcake and a Guinness after they go to bed, otherwise that ship has sailed into the green sea for the most part. If not and you DO actually get to go out, it's one day of drinking in the cold and then a hangover. Woo! I'm going to end the Eh Season here because spring and all that goes along with it is already sort of tacked onto Summertime, so there you go. There are your three seasons.
That being said, if you are so inclined, go celebrate them the way you want to, no judging here. If you're a solid HalloThanksMas person, you go put that Christmas tree up now! Or go look at the one you already put up last week (weirdo). For me, I'm going to attempt to ignore those candy canes till December 1st. I will tune my radio past the "All Christmas Music All The Time" stations until the week before actual Christmas. I will firmly keep my "fall" decorations up until at least December. I am going to try to keep these holidays separate, so they all have their own special-ness, so they don't lose that magical quality they still have.