This is an important detail as the Fletcher family -- mom, Fletch & brother -- hasn't had an artificial tree since my parents' divorce. Even today, with my mom living alone, my brother in one part of the state and I in another... putting up the Christmas tree is a big deal. It's important to my mom that we all be there together to do it. Because of shift schedules and semester finals, that didn't happen this year until the 15th or 16th of December. Although the fact that the tree my brother bought had been drying out in a lot for three weeks somewhere had no resemblance to the past, the timing was sort of a throwback to the old days.
As odd as it sounds, when we had a tree that we could leave up for weeks on end and not have it die or catch fire, we didn't. The tree was always up by my birthday (the 18th), but never much before then. Thanksgiving leftovers were long gone and the school semester seemed nearly over before they pulled the tree and the 1970s ghetto lights down from the attic. One more thing... It didn't usually matter if we were all there together for the trimming of the tree. Perhaps it was because my brother & I were so young, but my parents did most of everything. I even remember one year getting off the school bus and them having already put up the tree and lights. Regardless of how it happened -- the tree was always the mark that Christmas had come. And the point of this story is that Christmas always seemed to come at the right time.
With only a few shelves of 80% off Christmas rejects remaining in the stores, it's a good time to wonder where those old days went.
I'm not going to lament how the retailers start Christmas earlier and earlier every year -- well, at least not yet. The biggest symptom of the problem that I see is the number of people ready for Christmas to be gone by the end of the year. How is it that we can spend months preparing for something -- on both a secular and religious level -- and be ready to pack it in only days later? Is it possible that we have the timetable in reverse? Shouldn't we drag the celebration out instead of the preparation? (Sure, I know the flaw in that logic is that it wouldn't make Wal-Mart a dime.) I mean... This isn't Mardi Gras. We don't have to open gifts and then be at mass the next morning to repent for them. (Well, not usually.) I've said this before. I'll say it again. Where are the 12 days of Christmas?
All of these thoughts were brought on today when I was browsing music at iTunes. I stumbled across a few Christmas carols mixed in among "winter" music and even though Christmas has barely been gone two weeks... the music seemed so out of place. Yet, one of the radio stations in Franklin starts piping in the carols shortly after Halloween. How can it be okay to celebrate something more than a month in advance but seem so awkward to celebrate it two weeks after it passes?
Of course, there's not much that will come from this rant. I'm not going to place a moratorium on Christmas celebrations. After all, I'm Mr. Christmas in these parts. I've got a reputation to live up to. It's just a shame that something so wonderful is shoved down our throats so much before hand that we don't want to drag out the celebration just a little longer. Am I the only one that wants to hold on to Christmas as it passes rather that build it up beforehand?