(If you aren’t hearing that song in your head in Angela Lansbury’s voice, you’re doing it wrong.)
Full disclosure: I’m the person who usually starts listening to Christmas music around Labor Day. The religious stuff I find very worshipful, and the less-religious stuff are full of whimsy, fun, and optimism. I like that, and I make no apologies for it. In fact, I think any Christmas song worth singing is worth singing any time of year, if the message is correct. (“O Come Let Us Adore Him” – as relevant in February as December, IMO)
But, I do have a hard-and-fast rule that Christmas decorating is a Day After Thanksgiving tradition. Christmas cards don’t get done before then, either.
I fall somewhere in the middle on the “When does ‘Christmastime’ actually start” debate, which is more divisive than the “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas” wars.
Also – I love Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of my favorites, because (usually) it means the family comes to US for once, and WE get to host everyone, and I like that. Or, a least, we get to host company. And I love to eat. So I’m not saying in any way that Thanksgiving should be overlooked.
But I also get the people who start the seasonal celebrations early. And I have seen an unusual amount of Christmas trees in November on facebook this year.
In case you haven’t seen the movie or musical from which the title song of this post is taken, Mame is a ridiculously wealthy woman in 1920s NYC. And then the stock market crashes and she’s beyond broke, owing tons of money and fighting for hourly jobs at which she’s no good. One day, to boost her (and the rest of the household’s) spirits, they decide to decorate for Christmas, in mid-November. And even thought they all think it’s silly, “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute” to forget for a few hours that life has taken a downward turn and to just be happy.
I think that’s a factor in real life nowadays. The economy is awful, jobs are scarce, unemployment is on the rise (if you look at the un-fudged numbers), and the world news kinda sucks right now. (ISIS beheaded someone else this week, in case you hadn’t heard.) Things cost more and we have less to buy them with. And we’re deploying the National Guard to “fight” Ebola. For crying out loud.
So I don’t blame people for wanting to get in a festive mood earlier than is traditional. Sometimes, you just need a little Christmas.
People (the responsible ones) start their Christmas budgeting earlier in the year. I don’t think that’s de facto “materialism.” I don’t fault a parent at all for wanting to give their kids gifts – kids who had tantrums all year and gave you the stomach bug that was going around and don’t pick up their toys and almost certainly won’t be buying you a present with their own money because he’s 7 years old and has no money – to give a present to someone who can’t do anything more than say “Thank you,” that’s pretty selfless and underrated. I know someone will say, “But [extreme example]!” To which I reply, “Yeah, whatever.”
And it’s not just presents. We started pricing flights back home in October. And kenneling the dogs. And probably no new decorations this year (although Walmart is challenging me). Churches and community choirs start practicing Christmas music months ahead of time. The handmade goods professionals – like a lot of my friends who have home-based businesses of things they actually make – have to front-load their inventory right after Summer. Christmas is part of our lives earlier.
And, I think that sometimes, you just need a little Christmas. I get it if that’s not your thing (well, no, I don’t actually). But I see why people need it.
In case you haven’t heard the (only correct) Angela Lansbury version of “We Need a Little Christmas,” here it is: