The November War
Every November there’s a war that rages on social media. It begins the day after Halloween with a post about how it’s Christmas time! and a response with how it’s not Christmas until after Thanksgiving, and back and forth it goes on walls and in gifs and image macros for the rest of November until after Thanksgiving when it’s generally agreed that it’s finally okay to start Christmas and the whole thing drops until next year. This is the war of Christmas, not to be confused with the war on Christmas which is an imaginary thing that we won’t get into here today. This is the real war, and it’s going on right now.
I am in the after Thanksgiving camp. For me, Christmas has always kicked off Thanksgiving night as we’d listen to Christmas carols on the drive back from my aunt’s house. Then with Miracle on 34th Street after the Dog Show when my family started celebrating at home. It’s a very important holiday transition for me, and I want it to start with the people I love most of all. My husband doesn’t care for Christmas at all, so for him if we can wait to start Christmas as long as possible that is preferable. I’m not allowed to put the tree up until after December 1st.
I have to admit, I am struggling this year to not engage in the war of Christmas now/Christmas later. I have contributed in the past with snide comments and posts asking others to refrain from their jolly celebrations until the appointed time, but this year I would like to be more respectful of other’s choices. I don’t get it, and I won’t participate in the early Christmas celebrations, but I don’t want to be part of the problem, either. You want to celebrate Christmas ridiculously early? Go right ahead.
I think for a lot of people the offense with early Christmas celebration comes from the skipping over of Thanksgiving. There is a whole holiday between Halloween and Christmas and it deserves it’s own time to shine. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I get the inclination to be offended that others are ignoring a perfectly good holiday. Thanksgiving is so simple and untainted by commercialism. It’s really hard to commercialize a holiday that’s completely centered around eating as much food as you possibly can and hanging out with your family for a few hours. Aside from some decorations and all the food, there’s not a lot to sell in connection with Thanksgiving. So I get that retail stores want to skip it because its not a lucrative holiday for them. Still, it’d be nice not to completely ignore it.
While retailers are all about extending Christmas for their own selfish gains, however, many people have much better reasons for wanting to start the season as soon as possible. It still pains me to see the “Merry Christmas”es come out on the second day of November, but I understand a little better now why they do. Over the years I’ve had conversations with several friends who are all about early Christmas and they’ve all had pretty legit reasons for celebrating early.
I have friends who have adopted teens from out of the foster care system. Their first daughter was 8 when she came to live with them, their second was 12 or 13, I believe, their third is 11. That’s roughly 10 years each of missed Christmases. They start early partially because this friend never does anything small. She is the very definition of “go big or go home,” and she never goes home. But also because they have so much time to make up for with these girls. They’ve already missed out on so much Christmas joy and excitement, they deserve the extra month to make up for it.
I have another friends who loves Christmas more than anything. She struggles with a lot of chronic pain and illnesses and is often too exhausted or in too much pain to engage in all the Christmas fun she wants to get to in a year. She explained to me that if she doesn’t start early and give herself enough time to rest between activities, she simply won’t have time to do all the things she loves to do at Christmas time. Things that we don’t think twice about doing all in one day, she has to spread out for her own health.
I can’t say that I really get the whole Christmas hype in general, but I respect that for others, this is a big deal. I like Christmas well enough, but it will never be that big of a thing for us. Sure, I’m excited for the boys’ first Christmas. I’m looking forward to sharing all of our favorite traditions with them. I can’t wait to take them to Pittsburgh and to decorate cookies when they’re older, and share all of the Christmas fun with them, but I’m also excited to take them on the Turkey Trot this year and feed them sweet potatoes and squash while we eat Thanksgiving dinner. That’s just me, but for a lot of people, this holly jolly time of year is everything. I know that some people don’t have a logical reason for starting Christmas directly after Halloween. Some people just really like Christmas, and that’s okay. I don’t get it, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t start their Christmas carols and put up their tree on the first day of November if that’s what makes them happy.
So instead of being a Grinch about all the Christmas posts I’ll be seeing over the next few weeks, I’m going to politely ignore them and enjoy the rest of my fall while whoever else wants to rush into Christmas can do so. I’m not going to comment or complain about the Christmas stuff floating around in stores and on the radio (which I don’t listen to anyway). You do you, friend. Enjoy this season, or that one coming, which ever you want.