Have You Decorated For Christmas Yet? When Do You Start?

Bunny-suit_large So, three weeks ago when we were putting up our Christmas tree, playing a little Bing on the old turn table, warming chestnuts over the fire, and sipping Egg Nog, I couldn't help but think about just how much I love Christmas.  All the presents were bought, wrapped, and under the tree and we had already purchased the Christmas goose and cranberries.  Each night thereafter, I cuddled with my kids and read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to them. We pulled out the Christmas programs on DVD and watched them all. Then, about a week ago we went and had our picture taken with Santa at the mall.  Finally, the big day will come tomorrow and we will open all the presents. We'll have grandparents over and we'll have a big feast. Everyone will wear their Christmas sweaters and we'll really "Deck the Halls," so to speak! 

We've decided to follow the lead of the retailers and start doing Christmas early this year to avoid the rush.  Next year, I think that we'll move it up to October. You can't get started too early, now, can you?

Seriously, guys, this is getting ridiculous. Everywhere I go, I am already seeing Christmas stuff. People are starting to shut down and get ready for the holidays. Folks all over our city are already putting up Christmas trees and are decorating in their yards. Plastic snowmen are beginning to dot the landscape. The insanity of it all!  The whole month of December is wiped out with Christmas celebrations and it is next to impossible to schedule anything that is unrelated. I was at a local Baptist association meeting last week and we were talking about some initiatives for 2009. We wanted to get some pastors together and everyone agreed that if we wanted to do it before January, we had to have the meeting before Thanksgiving. That is how it is with my church and just about everyone else that I know as well.  I stopped the meeting and asked everyone if things were like this when they were younger. Basically, people are out of pocket for about 6 weeks. Everyone agreed that it was not this way years ago. Christmas celebrations did not start up until about two-three weeks before Christmas. That's how I remember it as well.

There are some reasons for this, I think.  Some of them good, some bad. Here we go:

  1. As people live further and further away from their families, Christmas is the one time of the year when everyone gets together, so it has become a REALLY big deal.  "I'll Be Home For Christmas" puts more of a lump in our throat now than it ever has. Christmas' little brother, Thanksgiving, is an alternate Christmas for many families that are split because of divorce or it is a time to meet with one side of the family or the other. Our family rotates Christmas and Thanksgiving between my wife's side and mine. But, gifts are exchanged over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend every year now.
  2. The commercialization of Christmas is completely out of hand. Our consumeristic economy depends on us spending truckloads of money on stuff that few of us really need or want. I recently saw that Americans spend $500 billion a year on Christmas!  Alternatively, $10 billion would provide clean drinking water for every person on the planet and would help prevent the deaths of 1.6 million children a year that occur from lack of access to clean drinking water. Shocking, isn't it?
  3. I think that a lot of people are looking for the "perfect Christmas."  There is this ideal that is promoted that has you gathered with your family and friends experiencing warmth, peace, and comfort. There are so many different ways to experience Christmas now that you can't possibly do all of them, so, you have to spread it out for six weeks or so to get it all in. It seems that we aren't getting enough of what we are supposed to be getting during the year, so we try to get it all in at Christmas. Or, we are so empty as a culture that we can't wait to start celebrating something that makes us feel loved. 

Is any of what is driving the expansion of Christmas into November even remotely related to the birth of Jesus Christ?  Remember Him? He is the "Reason for the Season," isn't He? It seems that Jesus isn't talked about much until right around the actual day of Christmas.  We kind of wear ourselves out regarding Christmas and then remember that this is supposed to be about Jesus (or for most, family) after all. I know that I just explained the plot line of just about every Christmas movie ever made, but there is some truth to it.

So, this year I have decided to NOT celebrate Christmas at all until 18 days before.  Why 18 days? Because that is when our church Christmas Party is. On December 7th, we will gather with Family Life Bible Fellowship and have our annual Christmas Extravaganza. If I can't fit it in in 18 days, then it is too much, right? 

Everything else, I'm calling Festivus after the Seinfeld episode where George's father came up with a different holiday besides Christmas. I don't think that we'll do the "airing of grievances," the "festivus pole," or the "feats of strength," but I am going to survive this year by recognizing that everything that is not fairly close to the holiday or is not related to Jesus in some way is just Festivus. 

In case you're wondering about Festivus, here's a clip:

So, no Christmas for me until the time is right. I think that I'm actually going to enjoy Thanksgiving!

Poll: When do you decorate for Christmas?

28 Responses to Have You Decorated For Christmas Yet? When Do You Start?

  1. In all honesty (and recognizing that this is all rather subjective), it seemed to me that this year they were a little later than normal in rolling out the Christmas decor (except in Kohl’s, where they had stuff up in late Sept/early Oct). In my own experience, I would say that it has been like this (early decoration, meaning early November) for at least 20-25 years.
    For our family, the tree comes out every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, usually that Saturday.

  2. Decorated with the fam last weekend. Complete with Michael W. SMith and Amy Grant Christmas music and wassail. (sp?)

  3. Okay, I don’t mean to be a Scrooge here. If everyone wants to decorate for Christmas in November and get started with the festivus, I mean, festivities, that’s fine.
    As for me and my house . . .
    Of course, I haven’t exactly cleared this with Erika yet. I imagine that we’ll be putting up the Christmas tree sometime in the next week or two. Sigh. 🙂

  4. I have nothing to do with that pagan, demonic holiday.
    No where does the Bible say, remember Christ’s Birth. It is his death that saves.
    Also Jeremiah 10 is similar to the xmas tree.

  5. Geez, party at Dr. Paul’s. 🙂
    The decorations start getting hauled out the weekend after Thanksgiving here, along with lots of YankeeScents.com potpourri. We may actually cut our own tree this year, so I’m not sure when we’ll be killing and decorating that demonic thing.

  6. Wow, Dr. Foltz. Wow.
    I really don’t get into discovering the demonic origins of Christmas traditions because even if we do understand all that, I doubt that anyone worships the Christmas tree or the Yule log. At any rate, Merry Christmas.
    For everyone else, a good portion of this post was meant to be humorous. As for the serious parts of it, my point is just that we stay balanced and we keep things in perspective. 6 weeks is a long time to drink wassel and play Christmas records. In the joy of the season, let’s keep our focus on Christ.

  7. Since the grandkids were little, we’ve been going out the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to get a tree. We cut one down at one of those tree farms.
    Last year, a week after Christmas, I saw an absolutely gorgeous 8′ tree all decorated, at Home Depot. They kept marking it down, and finally took half off, so I bought it. The salesman said I should open a charge there, as they’d give me $25 off the purchase. So, I ended up buying the prettiest artificial tree I’d EVER seen, for about $30.
    It’s gorgeous, and we’ll probably put it up weekend after next. We always do Christmas here, so we’ll start accumulating packages under it right away, I suspect.

  8. And I’m not into demonic, pagan holidays either, but then I doubt the Heavenly Host, singing “Glory to God in the highest” was, either, the night Jesus was born. I figure THAT was OK with God, so I figure celebrating it today might be OK, too.

  9. Yesterday was 78 degrees here in Wagoner, OK (Today’s high will be 50 with 30 mph winds from the north) No, this isn’t a weather report, but I did put up the lights on the roof yesterday! I usually do this Thanksgiving weekend, but the weatherman said that yesterday was the last warm day of November, sooooo.
    My family has always decorated for Christmas Thanksgiving weekend. We put up my mother-in-law’s tree two or three hours after dinner on Thursday. My side of the family celebrates Thanksgiving on Saturday, a concession because all the kids were coming to dinner already full from the previous family’s meal. So, Friday is my family’s decoration day. It works well for us.
    I just don’t like seeing Halloween and Santa’s on the same aisle at K-Mart. That is kind of crazy!

  10. I agree, Bob. My favorite part of Christmas is thinking about the glory of the Incarnation. Nothing pagan about that. It always amazes me the way that Jesus was born and it says so much about our God.As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas differently from the world, I suspect, but I love the fact that people are full of joy and are experiencing peace this time of year.

  11. Christmas celebration starts on 30 November for me this year because it’s the First Sunday of Advent. We’ll decorate our sanctuary (complete with Advent wreath and candles) and celebrate like crazy for the next 4 weeks. We even have a Festival of Carols and Lessons, a tradition I began in my first year here.
    Yes, we’re Southern Baptist.

  12. We have decided not to decorate for Christmas. We have a 1 year old and he is into everything, so we would rather not have the battle.
    I’m so unamerican. But I guess I’m not pagan. I’m conflicted…

  13. Have you seen the Veggie Tales on St. Patrick? “Oh, mighty twig!” Cracks me up every time.
    But, then, I’m from Oregon where we DO worship trees. Right before we chop them down.
    What was this post about? Oh, yeah! We travel every other Christmas, including this one, so we have a fake 18″ tree we’ll decorate with the smallest of Star Wars ornaments. Never before Thanksgiving, though. Although, while cleaning out Jack’s toybox today, I did find a sock snowman, so he’s sitting on the bookcase. And, I think around here somewhere is another sock snowman who didn’t get put away last year. We have about twenty of them, so we lose track.
    But it will probably be the weekend after Thanksgiving, just because I want to get as much work (and decorated housishness) in before we leave for Seattle. Then we’ll probably have to help my ma decorate her house.

  14. PS: To clarify, the snowman is sitting on the bookcase. Jack is in the shower, singing at the top of his lungs about a moose who wants to fly.

  15. We will decorate on December 1, but I’m already suffering through the horrible “Christmas” shows that they are airing 9 days before the “25 days of Christmas”.
    Bah, Humbug!!

  16. So I guess I shouldn’t tell anyone that you watched the entire movie “Christmas With the Kranks” Friday night (including the shushing of the kids) and I think I saw a tear or two. Love you.

  17. I know. I’m cracking. The pressure is just too great.
    Lord, have mercy on my soul. Perdition awaits.

  18. So I just moved into my first real non-seminary apartment in Texas, and I got myself a tree at this craft-place that is like the Mega-Lo-Mart of all crafts called Garden Ridge (seriously, my aunt and uncle took my family to the one in Katy, Texas when I was a kid… it’s a whole mall there, but the one I went to in Fort Worth is just Home Depot sized). Anyway, I got this 4 footer a few weeks ago, and to make sure it was all there, I pulled it out. Once it was out of the box… it just seemed like I should go ahead and put it up. So I did. But my tree is like the Charlie Brown tree of artificial trees. It leans, it’s weak, and I didn’t have any ornaments until yesterday, when I bought two from a local pueblo.
    When I get home Tuesday night, I’m putting my two Christmas ornaments on this tree. Probably not close together… got to spread the love around. =)
    Oh… and as for when to celebrate… well, I like trees. I wouldn’t be opposed to keeping my tree up all year around… it looks cool (minus the pitiful 2 ornaments). Besides, didn’t we learn that Jesus COULD have been born in November, or even as my Messianic Jew guest teacher once said, Spring! Well we just don’t know. How’s that for rationalization?

  19. And on a serious note… doesn’t the Bible tell us we can choose our own holy days, feasts, and festivals?
    Alan, I love thinking about John 1 at Christmas time.

  20. Joe, I guess that you can make it up all willy-nilly if you like. I’m more of a traditionalist, I guess. 🙂
    Also, you are right about John 1 at Christmas. That is my devotional guide through this holiday. Meditating on the Incarnation gives this season meaning and depth and I am better for it.
    By the way, I ALMOST put on Christmas music in the house on Saturday. Erika walked by and said, “Festivus.” I hung my head in shame yet again. This isn’t working very well, I’m afraid.

  21. Is there any chance we can have “The Airing of Grievances” at the Christmas Extravaganza? I have some bones to pick…

  22. Alan, just do it. I was listening to the Elf Soundtrack on my way into Glorieta Thursday night and as it got dark, I thought, “Isn’t it usually the guy listening to old 50s music while driving through New Mexico who gets abducted by aliens?” Then I changed albums.

  23. Okay…I’ll admit that our tree went up this weekend. Mostly because we have 2 children that I think truly believe that if the tree goes up & Mommy decorates, then Christmas will actually come sooner! Being from Canada…we never decorated until Dec. 1st until I moved south to the U.S. and was informed that Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. I guess I’ve conformed by now (it was part of my citizanship exam! :)~ )

  24. Joe,
    I’ve had that same experience when driving. Sometimes, it does seem like you’re in a bad movie, especially when the right music is playing.
    Don’t conform. We need someone around here to set a good example. I’ve just realized that I have about a 3 week shelf life on the Christmas thing. If I start too early, I end up getting tired of it BEFORE Christmas. I love it, but I’m trying to hold out. I’ll give updates as the date to begin celebrating approaches.
    It is getting harder and harder each day!

  25. Alan,
    For me the magical number is 10 days before Christmas. As with most, my lovely wife wants to decorate the house after Thanksgiving Day. She does not understand why I do not share in her excitement. For years I tried to create the same enthusiam but failed and grew tired of the month long Christmas Cheer. I finally realized why I could not start getting into the “Chrismas Spirit” in November. As a child my father would always go buy a Christmas tree 10 days before Christmas, that was the expected life of a tree after it was cut before it started shedding it’s needles (According to my Father). We all participated in decorating the tree as a family and that really created some lasting memories.
    I will join you in the Christmas festivites on December 15. haha

  26. Joe, I hear you. My first Christmas away from home was in the officer’s billeting at Shephard AFB in Wichita Falls, TX. I had carted my decorations all the way from Montana, but I couldn’t find a tree to save my life. Wound up hanging ornaments on the silk plants in my room.

  27. Alan,
    For me Christmas does not start until December 15. As a child my father would go out and buy a live tree 10 days before Christmas because that was suppose to be the life of the tree before it started shedding it’s needles. We would all participate in decorating the tree and would start looking forward to the big day. My lovely Bride of course starts decorating the house the day after Thanksgiving and cannot understand why I do not share in her enthusiasm. She usually grows tired of the season before Dec. 25th about the time I start getting into the Christmas cheer.
    I will join you guys in the festivities on the 15th. Merry Christmas !!