This past Monday night, Oct. 27, taking back roads home from Greenville, what did I see in the window of a modest brick ranch out the passenger side window?
A Christmas tree.
Ya’ll: a 6-footer, festooned with lights and doing its best to create a cozy ambiance as the day’s Indian summer ebbed into the mid-70s.
So that’s who was buying the Christmas baubles and tinsel from the Dollar Store in late August. I had sorta wondered …
Craning my neck like a hypnotized deer at the lights, I wheeled the car up the next side street to circle back and make sure I saw what I thought I saw. Yep. No doubt — there it was, in living color.
So I figured one of two things were going on: Either this is the home of a deployed soldier keeping a tree up all year-round to welcome him home (I’ve heard about lights in the window, so why not?) or somebody’s got a bad case of Yuletiditis. Well, it’s a free country — if you want to put up your tree before Halloween and begin listening to Mariah Carey warble away on her holiday album, go right ahead. I admire your tenacious spirit. Not your musical taste, but your spirit.
Because I’ve gotta tell you: As much as I love celebrating Christmas, or going to the movies, or eating pizza, or anything, really, the thought of doing it for eight straight weeks is horrifying. There are radio stations that begin playing Christmas music, I kid you not, at midnight on Halloween. That might work in frigid New Hampshire, but in a southern climate, where temps are often mild and downright balmy in November, hearing Bing croon, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” while I’m as sweaty as the unseen crevices of a Sumo wrestler in the interior of my non-air-conditioned truck, is nothing short of torture.
I don’t want to get into “the Christmas spirit” yet. I’d like it to happen organically, well after Thanksgiving, upon hearing there is a chance of snow flurries one afternoon, or noting the local grocery store is displaying cracked walnuts and candied fruit for holiday baking. Paul and I aren’t even sure where we would put a tree this year — I’ve inherited my mother’s cherished Edwardian china cabinet. It’s a beast, taking up almost the entire wall against the stair railing that our Christmas trees have previously occupied. To put it there, now, would look like Neil Patrick Harris wedged up against the window seat by Michael Moore (or Chris Christie, depending on your political point of view), overlapping and taking up both arm rests on a plane. It would just look pitiful. And painful.
Growing up, my mother was keen that we children should observe the season of Advent, first: preparing ourselves for the coming of the Christ child by opening festive cardboard calendars and slamming our siblings head first to the floor for the piece of chocolate that fell out, like baseball fans grappling over a foul ball, before she would even begin decorating for the season. But it didn’t matter … regardless of our greed, we were aware of her point, and it is one that has stayed with me to this day.
So go ahead, Dollar Store, stock your shelves, and be my guest, Fraser fir farmers, haul your trees to the vacant lots come mid-November. I’ll turn a blind eye as I drive by and probably stop listening to the radio as well. Time to download.
Because I’m pretty sure Iggy Pop never put out a Christmas album.