By Jason Jones
EAST TEXAS – Blame can be laid squarely at the feet of the retail industry. Given enough slack, I firmly believe they would begin setting up for Christmas just after Easter. While wearing shorts and flip flops, the retail giants would have us strolling through faux winter wonderlands, finding gift ideas and “getting into the holiday spirit.”
It’s a little unnatural.
While that extreme hasn’t been met, it does seem to start earlier and earlier every year. Even on a societal level, we all have an Uncle Perry and Aunt Jean who leave their Christmas decorations up year-round.
I would never stoop to make fun of those folks. After all, the worst part of decorating for Christmas is dragging everything out of a closet or the attic. These people are saving a ton of energy. Aside from replacing a bulb or two and shoring up that strand that started sagging back in July, their decorating chores are almost enviable. If they were to keep a fully decorated tree in a room or closet, the process would be a breeze. Now I’m making mental notes for myself.
At any rate, most folks are a lot like me: Christmas starts after Thanksgiving.
No, not everybody. My wife’s cousin, Denise, is a major player in the decorating department. Her beautiful home is truly a shrine to all that is Christmas. She starts right after Halloween. She has to, otherwise she’d never have a moment to enjoy the fruits of her labor.
But many of us are on the same page. Our decorating consists of a nice wreath, maybe a few outdoor lights, some garland and stockings over the mantle and a tree with a skirt and some wrapped presents underneath. If you’re like my wife, you also have 42 candles burning which smell like evergreen trees and apple cinnamon.
My point, though, is that it’s officially on. Get it started. We are now in Christmas mode.
It seems to be the perfect moment to begin. Thanksgiving rightfully deserves our undivided attention, and to be fair, it also has its very own motif – pumpkins and fall foliage… perhaps a cornucopia full of festive Thanksgiving stuff. It’s not uncommon to see a turkey and a tall black hat with a buckle in the front among the rest of the decorations. All very festive. All very Thanksgiving-ish. Nothing, though, that screams “Christmas,” and, conversely, Christmas décor probably doesn’t mesh well with such an iconic holiday either. At least not the way we decorate at our house.
But the Christmas season has arrived.
Christmas at our house is steeped in tradition. The level at which we decorate outside varies from year to year. It is usually decided by the level of energy we have right after Thanksgiving. I’ve been on the roof with a staple gun many times, but I’m also good with simply decorating the front porch.
Inside is a little different. The Mrs. Really enjoys bringing out the decorations. It’s a lot like digging through a giant book of memories. Every year she buys a new ornament for each member of the family. Usually something that commemorates an event or an accomplishment during the past year. As such, we now have an enormous collection of ornaments, and not enough tree to display them all.
There is one, though, that will always be on the tree.
One year when my wife was in grade school, her teacher had the class bring the wish bone to school from their Thanksgiving turkey. They painted it and added some glitter. To my surprise, that ornament came with her when we were married. The first few years I kind of made fun of it. I feel bad about it now but referring to it as “your chicken bone” always caused a chuckle. In the years since, it has become a family treasure that is loved and embraced. For the longest time we struggled each year to find the perfect topper for the tree. We had stars and Angels, just like everybody else. One year we had a Santa Claus head. We both stood back and decided it looked like a severed head on display to warn our enemies. We didn’t keep it long.
Later, we discovered an elf that belonged to her grandmother. It looks to be the inspiration for the modern day “Elf on a Shelf,” except it’s at least 60 years old. A few years ago, we placed him on top of the tree, one arm holding on to the top limb and one arm holding the wish bone. It is officially our topper and will remain so barring complete disintegration.
The older I get, the more I enjoy it. My Christmas memories from childhood were amazing. The memories from my Dad years were fantastic as well. Today it’s a pleasure not to be missed. My children are grown, and while my four-year-old granddaughter keeps the Santa joy at peak level, the time we spend at Christmas with family is priceless.
I also still get toys. Last year my son gave me a Hulk Hand drink holder and a Chewbacca mask. That sort of fun can’t be replaced by a pair of socks.
And it’s here. I’m looking forward to soaking it all in. I hope you all are as well. We here at the Messenger wish you all the very Merriest of Christmases.
Jason Jones may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org