I am a traditionalist. I don't think we should decorate a tree, listen to Christmas music, or generally think about things Christmasy until December 1.
Don't get me wrong - I love the Christmas season. I sing the songs - from "Here Comes Santa Claus" to "Messiah" - with great gusto. My house is (largely due to the efforts of my bride) decorated with the best of them. I go to the parties and dutifully watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and the Grinch every year.
But I also understand those who are fed up with the commercialization and the over-production of the season. I laughed all the way through John Grisham's Skipping Christmas.
So I want my Christmas, but I don't want it overdone. And, usually, I only want it in December. The competition between the Christmas decorations and the Halloween costumes in Target bugs me.
This year is different. The calendar falls so that Advent starts in November. Most of my neighbors had their lights up by nightfall on Thanksgiving. A couple had their lights up before that. Even we got our tree up on Thanksgiving night.
For some reason, this year I am ready for it. Christmas cannot start too soo for me. I wonder why?
Surely part of it is a genuine thirst for Advent, for a reminder of the coming of the Christ child and the hope that means for all of us.
Perhaps some of it is a longing for good news to end a year that has been trying in a lot of ways. Serving as executor of the estate of my uncle has been a constant reminder that he is gone. Friends have died; other friends are sick. Family strife has struck some very close to us. We live in a world of recession and "maneuvers" in the waters off Korea. The divisive political rhetoric continues to turn up the volume and the vitriol on both sides.
Undoubtedly, part of my feeling this year is because it is the last year that my oldest child will live at home. He has made a point of wanting us to decorate the house "fully" this year, his last Advent here with us. What has been something of a task in the past this year seems to be more of a joyous gift, both to him and to the girls as well.
Whatever the reason, though it is still November, I am ready for holly and mangers, flying reindeer and Magi, gift wrap and candles, carols and hymns, Santa and the baby, "Ho Ho Ho" and "And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. But the angel said unto them, 'Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord!'"
Bring on the good tidings of great joy! And go ahead and turn your lights on.