Bah Humbug Blues

It’s enough to give a curmudgeon heartburn. Every year I lament that fact that certain members of our human race (I call them “idiots” in private, but I shouldn’t say that in public), conspire to start decorating for Christmas earlier and earlier. This year is no exception.

scrooge.gifI should warn those of the elf-hugging, ornament-dangling, Christmas-fruitcake-sharing persuasion that this article is…well, basically a rant. A well-deserved, well-intended rant, but a rant none the less. So cover your children’s ears and hide your puppies.

In years past, I’ve always complained about those early rushers who attempt to squeeze a few extra days (weeks really) into the blessed Christmas season. You’d hear me exclaim, “Dang, we just finished Thanksgiving and they’re decorating already!” Okay, so that’s a G-rated version. Most likely I would have said darn instead, but I digress. Over the last few years I’ve had to revise my statement to something like “Drat, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and they’re starting to decorate.” Well, this year takes the cake (and if it’s fruitcake, yes, please take it…as far away as possible). A few weeks ago Starbuck’s started decorating and doing other terrible things, such as playing Christmas music. Granted, Miles Davis’ rendition of Jingle Bells was noteworthy, but ask me again after hearing it forty times and I’ll use a different adjective. Yes, it really happened, and this was around the 10th of November! Oh, but that’s not the worst of it. Last month a few brave retailers started decorating BEFORE Halloween. If that trend continues, we’ll have to change that famous refrain to “Ho ho ho, trick or treat.” And to top that, last week, I spied a group of three Dickensian-attired carolers outside a favorite bookstore. It’s 80 degrees outside, and the middle of flippin’ November…hardly the time to get all Christmasy. Better yet, let’s all lobby to get the red, white, and blue approach to Independence Day changed to red, white, and green so we can start decorating in JULY!…not.

So what’s so wrong with decorating and celebrating Christmas WITHIN the month of December? Seems like this would be a more intense, enjoyable way to celebrate, and some of us would then be less likely to punch out carolers before it’s properly cold enough to carol. We should blame retailers of course, since they’re the ones pushing the envelope (and the ones mostly benefiting from rushing the season). I understand why they start the insanity, since the Christmas shopping gorge fest is what keeps them alive. For most stores over half of their annual sales occur during the blessed holiday. Unfortunately in this headlong commercialization of the holiday, the true meaning of Christmas has probably been lost, save for a few brave parents who attempt to instill the Christmas story and reasons for sharing on their children, who listen intently and politely then promptly hand in their extensive toy lists.

Before anyone think me a full-blown curmudgeon who totally disdains Christmas, I do enjoy celebrating the event, but typically this insanity comes on me like a fever about December 23rd, or in my bad years, December 20th. Thankfully the madness leaves around December 26th. I am blessed that while growing up, my family celebrated the season in good ways, and so I have Christmas memories beyond the presents received over time. I remember events and moments from the past that are nice reflections of true Christmas.

So go ahead elf-huggers, decorate early. Play your Christmas songs until we’re sick of them and Christmas still weeks and weeks away. If it makes you jolly, dangle that mistletoe and decorate that soon-to-be-dried-out tree before the Thanksgiving turkey carcass is picked clean. Whatever makes you happy. But I won’t be the one standing in the post-Christmas line, fighting to exchange Grandma’s gift sweater with arms of different length. Me and my lump of coal will be just fine sitting in front of the fire, worrying about important things, such as when retailers will realize that Santa is just a laborer and outsource him or race to start taping plastic holly up on September 6th. It’s enough to make a grown curmudgeon cry.