The evening of Nov. 3 started as any other Thursday night. After my son’s karate class, we picked up his twin sister and headed to Kentlands to get a quick bite of dinner. Then, later in the car heading back to our home near Olde Towne, the kids discussed which two pieces of Halloween candy they were going to have as a special treat when they got home.
We turned on to Muddy Branch Road, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but … wait for it … a shopping center decorated in faux pine swag, twinkly lights and red bows. This not-so-old driver did a double take and couldn’t believe that this center was ready to greet St. Nick.
Maybe Oct“snow”ber was the inspiration this year, but it seems over the last decade we can barely come down from our Halloween sugar high before the Santa’s Village pops up at a mall nearby and stacks of candy canes in all sizes and flavors become a ubiquitous entrance display at retail stores across the region.
Before you accuse me of having a “Bah humbug” attitude, you have to know how much I love Christmas. Every year I look forward to selecting ornaments I’ve collected since I was a child, putting them in just the right place on the Christmas tree in our front bay window, and placing front and center on the mantle the strikingly strange and beautiful ancient stone carving Celtic nativity set my husband and I found on our honeymoon.
I eagerly anticipate seeing our house tastefully decorated with white icicle lights and window box garland as I pull in the driveway. And now that we have kids, I treasure the time that multiple generations can share, celebrating long-time traditions and building new ones.
But for me, Christmas doesn’t begin until I see Santa driving his sleigh to Herald Square at the conclusion of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yes, I realize that, in part, the Macy’s parade is a great marketing tool to kick off holiday sales. And, in many ways, the holiday decorations now popping up across the region are a similar marketing ploy, designed to not so subtly pressure everyone to start making that list, checking it twice and buying presents before it’s too late.
November isn’t a month when we should be stressing about Christmas consumerism because we’re being hit over the head with it at every turn. Instead, November is a month during which we should be giving thanks — for the family and friends with which we’ve been blessed, for the prosperity and good health during another year, and for the promise of the year ahead.
After seeing the premature decorations, I briefly considered boycotting any retail establishment that was decorated for Christmas so far before Thanksgiving. But then I reconsidered … within days, I feared, we wouldn’t even be able to go to the grocery store without the constant reminder that Christmas is just 51 days, 6 hours and 13 minutes from the moment I saw the first major decoration display of the season.
Gail Norris is an East Deer Park resident and active city volunteer, including serving as public relations co-chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival.