After all, the Christmas season had officially been in full swing since Thursday’s leftover turkey went into the refrigerator. Yet somehow, I had pretty much managed to avoid the holiday all together.
The weather around here had been doing little to persuade me otherwise.
Yes, the ubiquitous holiday music had been piping into stores for days, but even then, I’d somehow avoided all the displays and fake Santas and forced commercial cheer.
I had not participated in Black Friday madness, nor had I logged on for “Cyber Monday” deals. I hadn’t even read or watched any news accounts of shopping madness. I didn’t care if people were squished against the plate-glass doors of some Buffalo-area big-box retailer that was going to offer super-cheap electronics at four a.m. I didn’t care who had what stuff on sale for how long and at what discount.
I didn’t brave the crowds or the weather for the local annual Santa Claus Lane parade, either. My closest experience came through reading the comments my friends posted on their Facebook pages.
I’d not yet been down to look at the city’s festival light display, either. In fact, the only display I’d really much noticed at all were several light-bleached plastic figures set up in a small nativity scene in front of the equally small church I pass on my way over the hill on my way into work.
In my own neighborhood, the closest sign of the season was a plywood-cutout snowman that hung from the utility pole near the end of my driveway. Down the street, there’s a plywood-cutout Christmas tree. I don’t even know when they appeared.
I did notice, in early November, when someone down the street planted their front yard with Christmas lawn ornaments. They had a big inflatable polar bear and lots of lights—enough to make the electric company happy, for sure—and I remember thinking how depressingly early it seemed to be. First had come the Christmas displays in the stores before Halloween, and now this.
But such holiday gun-jumping can easily be dismissed with ne’er a “bah” or a “humbug.” “It’s early,” we can all say—and we do. Anything before Thanksgiving can be written off as early because, after all, we can’t just steamroll over Thanksgiving in our rush to Christmas.
“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday,” a friend told this year, “because it’s all the great things about Christmas—family get-togethers, good food, and friends—without the stress of shopping.”
I long ago learned to ignore the retail world’s rush to cram Christmas down my throat. It’s the same lesson the Grinch realizes, as he stands ice-cold in the snow at the top of Mt. Crumpit: Christmas doesn’t come from a store—maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
So I steadfastly resist the commercial cues for Christmas and concentrate, instead, on one holiday at a time.
Because I was out of town, I missed the first brush of snow on Thanksgiving weekend. I had sunshine and temperatures in the mid-40’s—hardly Christmas weather.
When I got home, the rain soon followed.
Through all of this, then, I somehow managed to miss the whole festive holiday spirit altogether, even after it officially started. It wasn’t even because of an intentional effort on my part to be Scrooge-ish. The Christmas season just sort of happened, and I missed it—despite all the early warning signs all around me.
I had even recorded a series of holiday-themed segments for a local radio station and I still missed the start of the season.
And suddenly, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
The driving that morning was atrocious. I couldn’t even make it over the hill to get to work. It was nothing short of awful.
Yet the snowfall was nothing short of wonderful, too: big, wet, sloppy flakes falling from the sky so thickly they nearly erased the world. It looked like a ton of scattered feathers from a massive pillowfight between Mother Nature and Old Man Winter.
The weather that day, I realize, was not so kind to everyone—something I didn’t learn until later. November’s rain brought a lot of flooding throughout the region.
But for me, in that snowfall, the holiday season had finally arrived. I said a prayer. I slapped on some snappy jazz from The Charlie Brown Christmas Special and then “Welcome Christmas” from The Grinch (which I read at home later that day). I made it a point to look at Christmas lights, including those in the city park. I came home and lit a candle. I e-mailed Happy Hanukah notes to a few friends. I called my kids just to tell them I love them.
This time of year comes with so much hubbub—holiday-related and otherwise—that it’s easy to get caught up in the ratrace. It happens to me every year, and look: even this year it has happened to me already.
In the rush to celebrate the season, it’s easy to forget to enjoy the season.
And so that is my holiday wish for you and your family this season: may you remember to enjoy yours.