Everyone has a certain point when they feel like the holidays have started. Sometimes, it’s when they’re able to haul the decorations up from their other-seasonal hiding places. Or when Pumpkin Spice is replaced with Candy Cane everywhere. Or when butter is on sale so the Zero Threshold on baking must start now or you won’t get all those cookies made.
For me, in general, it starts around American Thanksgiving. By then, Michael’s Craft Store has had their half-price Christmas Tree Event. At the back of St. Clement’s, there are booklets (one per family, please) to help The Flock reflect on the journey to Bethlehem. People in northern climes have attached their lights to their houses (before the really nasty weather arrives). There’s a low ring of multicoloured lights on the huge pine trees in front of the Cambridge hospital to symbolize the success level of their Angel Campaign. By mid November, we’ve got one of the Cambridge Santa Claus parades under our belt, and Child’s band is preparing for the 6 other ones they’re intending to visit in the coming weeks. By then, there are holiday specials on TV: When her father falls ill right before Christmas, a high-powered executive must return to her hometown to help them finish plans for the Christmas pageant at her parents sleepy Vermont inn. Hi-jinks ensue, including a visit from her high school boyfriend-turned-contractor who is there to help them repair the roof damaged in The Snowstorm. And he remembers just how she likes her hot chocolate! Will she remember what Christmas is all about with help from the sugar cookies from her former BFF’s mom’s bakery? Or, yaknow, Why couldn’t Hans Gruber just repent his misguided ways before he had to fall off of Nakatomi Tower? Yippie-kai-yay, indeed.
And the surefire way I know that the holidays have started is that in every newspaper, and a few times a day on social media someone has their panties in a bunch and are offended to their very core about people/businesses/townships saying Happy Holidays.
Its such a weird thing to be offended about. “I want to wish you good greetings, but I don’t know what your faith/cultural belief is, so I’m going to offer you a generic good wish” How dare I try to be nice to strangers! The nerve of some people!
Between the beginning of November until the middle of January, there are 29 religious holidays celebrated by 7 major religions. I don’t feel like my touchstones are more touchstone-y than other peoples. And my “reason for the season” isn’t more reasonable than someone else’s reason that differs from mine.
This Advent, may I respect that mine is not the only journey underway, and may I not impede other’s path their own destinations.