As November rolls around, Americans all start thinking about turkey.
I start thinking about turkey too, sort of. But the turkey I’m thinking about is the one I’m going to stuff and eat for Christmas.
There are many, many reasons that I love living in Canada. Among them are universal healthcare, clean air (up here in the North, anyway), and Thanksgiving in early October. Why, you ask, am I so happy to celebrate this holiday a month and a half earlier than my red, white and blue neighbours? Simple. As soon as the pumpkins have shrivelled up and I’ve sported my Remembrance Day poppy for two weeks, I start seeing lights.
One of my favourite things in life is dragging the Christmas decoration boxes out of the closet and spending a week leisurely decorating my house. I got bit by the bug two Saturdays ago, and on this past Sunday, I was finished. I sat back with a glass of egg nog, and basked in the glorious Christmas-y cheer.
Yeah, yeah, Scrooges, I know you all think that Christmas decorating should be done no earlier than December 1st. But I reject that nonsense and offer you a short list of reasons why Christmas decorating in November is not only appropriate, but why it’s good for your health.
1) Daylight Saving Time
This ludicrous event should actually be called “Daylight Wasting Time”. It gets dark at 4:00 now. 4:00. In the afternoon. And it’s dark at 7:00 AM. So for those of you who have to travel to and from work, you are now doing BOTH in the dark. Yep. Sure sounds like we’re saving daylight to me! Not.
This terrible blight on humanity causes a serious case of the blahs, decreases productivity, and leaves everyone in an all around crappy mood for months and months and months. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not going to put up with that. I have things to do, and I don’t have the time or inclination to just mope around my house all day long.
And what better way to combat the blues than by brightening up your house with Christmas decorations! Sparkle and shine, red, gold and green ornaments, lights, tinsel, greenery… I dare you to be all “humbug” when you’re surrounded by such beautiful, pretty things. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I’ve had the Christmas lights on for over an hour now, and they are serving their purpose very nicely. I feel great!
2) Spreading Good Tidings of Cheer
Okay, if I’m being honest, then I have to tell you that it’s pretty pathetic to think we all need a special date on the calendar to make us more friendly to each other. As even Scrooge would tell you, we should keep Christmas in our hearts ALL THE YEAR. Kindness, charity, good will and love should not be exclusive to November and December. But the sad fact is, many of us (even myself on occasion) need some help when it comes to being nice.
The Christmas Spirit is not just a myth. When people feel good, they act better. That’s human nature. If you can’t crack a smile while walking down a snowy sidewalk, Christmas lights glowing in the shop windows, decorations sparkling brightly, then something’s wrong with you. Simple as that.
So when people start crabbing about how early the stores put up/out their decorations, yammering about the commercialization of this blessed holiday, I always like to counter with the positives. Sure, maybe the stores are just out to pick your pocket. But if ushering in the most wonderful time of the year early makes people smile and puts them in the mood to be nicer to one another? What’s so wrong with that? Not to mention that the name “Christmas” alone gets people talking about our Lord. And if you have a problem with THAT, then I’m probably going to have a problem with you.
3) Thankfulness and Awareness
You’d think the holiday which best promotes a feeling of being thankful would be Thanksgiving. It’s right there in the name. But I don’t really think that’s true. For one thing, the day is different depending on where you go. In America, it’s the third Thursday in November. In Canada, it’s the second Monday of October. Each date reflecting the harvest season in its country. So I always kind of felt like Thanksgiving is more of an idea of a celebration rather than an actual one. Which is fine! Jesus wasn’t really born in December, yet we still celebrate Him then. But I find that it’s harder to come together when you’ve got a holiday being celebrated at two totally different times.
And just what are we celebrating? Now, I’m not going to be a hypocrite and slam Thanksgiving the way others slam early Christmas time, but it can be difficult to ignore the fact that the Native Americans got shafted in a major way by our beloved ancestor Pilgrims. Nothing says “I’m thankful” more than turning around and stealing someone’s land, right? Sorry, sorry, I’m not going to go there. (Hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving on Thursday!)
But the fact is, Thanksgiving is just kind of THERE. There’s not a huge build-up to it like there is to Christmas, and all in all, I feel like there’s just less to celebrate. I can’t relate to it the way I do to Christmas.
When the Christmas season rolls around, THAT is when I start feeling truly thankful. I’m more aware of what others don’t have, and I’m more thankful for what I do. The thought of my Lord giving Himself to us when we certainly don’t deserve Him is humbling, to say the least. God Himself appearing in mortal form to save a bunch of worthless sinners? That should make you thankful.
We give gifts at Christmas because of the gift we were given. We love each other enough to talk and celebrate and give and receive, all the while remembering Who made all of that possible for us. “Jesus is the Reason For the Season” isn’t just a cutesy tagline slapped on a day off of work.
So to anyone who is a Gloomy Gus over Christmases that start in November, I say focus on the positives and reject the rest. There are always going to be people who abuse, twist and bastardize what’s good in life. But when you find a rotten apple in the barrel, you don’t leave it there and let it spoil the good ones. You toss it out and get on with your life.
Christmas is a time for remembering, celebrating, and being kind to one another. And if like me, having your decorations up before America starts eating turkey makes you happy and helps you be a better person for a little while, then I say why the heck not? Brighten up your home! Liven up your life! Unburden your heart for a few weeks and think more about others than yourself. Be caught up in the spirit of Christmas. Reflect Jesus, the namesake of my favourite holiday. Remember that God is concerned with our mind and heart, not our flesh. Doing someone a kindness is even more important than giving them a material gift. God never asked us to sacrifice animals to Him. He wants us to give of ourselves. Give up your pride, tramp down your ego. GIVE. Not from your purse, but from your heart.
That’s what Scrooge learned. That the power of Christmas isn’t what’s found inside those pretty packages, all wrapped up with bows and ribbons. It isn’t found in the decorations we hang to brighten our houses. No, the power of Christmas is found in WHY we want to hang them, and WHY we want to give them in the first place.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and Christmas is the only holiday which I think takes care of both. Truly the most wonderful time of the year.