Wednesday, November 16, 2011

As Much As The Turkeys Would Like It To Be So, There's No Skipping Thanksgiving

"Is that a Ferris wheel?" As we were driving down the freeway one evening, a slightly slanted column of blue and red twinkling lights could be seen in the distance. This is normally a sight associated with hastily assembled carnival rides promising the sort of fun that only comes in creaking, rusted out buckets hoisted 30 feet above the ground with few (if any) safety precautions. I was excited.

"I don't think so. It doesn't look death trappy enough." My companion, who refuses to sit on bar stools due to their "unnecessarily terrifying height," was not. "I think they are..."

"NO! NO WAY! It's only the beginning of November. It can't be..."

But they were.

Christmas lights. Five strands of poorly strung lights running up and down a 30 foot tall tree. Ugg.

Here's the problem. You see, there is this thing called a "calendar" which puts dates in an easy to understand chronological order. When used properly, it's very clear to see that Christmas (December 25th) is over a month and a half away. Far too early to start decking the halls. More over, there is another holiday between now and Christmas. You may have heard of it. It's called Thanksgiving. Kind of popular. It has a parade and everything.

When I was younger, it would have been absolutely sacrosanct to put up Christmas lights any earlier than the Friday following Thanksgiving. This was an unspoken neighborhood law. I remember spending many a frigid morning losing my footing on a frosty roof while trying to screw burnt out light bulbs into a frayed wire with hands so cold they had all they dexterity of wooden planks. And I lived in California. I could only imagine what it would have been like on the East Coast.

The point is, there was an order to things. After Halloween, you turned the jack-o-lanterns on the porch around, scattered some Fall colored leaves in front of it, and if you were feeling really festive, added a cornucopia to the mix. Ta-Da! Thanksgiving decorations! Appropriately timed!

I come from a family that believed if there was a holiday on the calendar, it deserved its own decorations. Sure, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day might not be "real" holidays, but the makers those horrifically bland nature landscape calendars my mother liked so much gave them their own square of importance in the grid. And we respected that decision by filling the house with gaudy knick-knacks conforming to that day's color scheme. Later in life, my brother would go on to celebrate even the Canadian holidays that were listed. But that's a different story involving Sherlockian border guards (sadly, non-Mounties) and an attempt to make peace with a land he was forbidden to visit... forgive me, I digress.

To skip over a holiday, especially one as major as Thanksgiving, was not acceptable. I should point out, we all hated Thanksgiving. The amount of cooking for a proper Thanksgiving feast is Herculean. It's five days worth of chopping, dicing, roasting, baking, and deep frying (yes, deep frying) condensed into the 8 hours before your (somewhat annoyingly prompt) relatives arrive. Then, in the course of a few hours, all your hard work vanishes, your house is wrecked, you're exhausted, and you can't get rid of that turkey smell for three weeks. So fun...

But you can't just jump over Thanksgiving to get to the consumerist freak out that is Christmas. It doesn't work that way. This isn't Doctor Who. Timelines matter. Christmas is a decidedly winter holiday. It is not winter yet, therefore we should not be decorating our houses to pretend that it is. Granted, it could be 75 degrees and sunny on Christmas morning here. I get that. Doesn't matter. The Earth hasn't tilted far enough off axis yet to even come close to justifying the use of fake snow.

Final point and then I'll let this go. If you must decorate for Christmas at the beginning of November, at least do it well. Those five strands of lights I saw were an absolute mess. Do I know how to string lights in a 30 foot tree? No. But it seemed like that person didn't either. Should they have taken more time putting them up (you know, like an extra month), I'm sure it could have been much more successful. Or to the very least, there would be other people's lights to mask their ineptitude.
posted by jw