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I’ve always been the type who likes to let the Christmas season unwrap, slowly and beautifully, like the perfectly conceived and packaged gift, whose undressing leaves us rapt in anticipation. Or maybe it’s like savoring a 7-course gourmet meal, with its full aromatic elegance to be absorbed slowly.
Either metaphor, the bottom line is simple: No time-collecting device – no calendar, no clock, no racing heart – should accelerate that repast. There should be no clearing the way for Christmas Day without taking moments to consume the slow-baked traditions that define our season.
The Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving morning is our appetizer. Throw in some holiday music and movies, and then I’m ready to roll. But don’t push me just because the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas was a few days tighter. Let’s just breathe and let the scent of fir wash over us and the joys of long-patient practices settle into our marrow and tissue.
Some of you, frankly, don’t. You attack Christmas like it was the last piece of pie on the buffet. Some of you make it a pushing, shoving siege, not a holy holiday to be approached with a modicum of reverence.
For instance, I’ve found more than a few people who decorated their houses before, oh, Veterans Day. A guy in the supermarket told me his son wanted to put up a Christmas tree before he had eaten all of his Trunk or Treat candy, or something like that.
If you ask me, decorations won’t be less beautiful and meaningful if you employ some deliberateness. Maybe that’s a view formed by a childhood when Christmas trees were cut and trimmed precisely a week before Christmas and taken down precisely a week later.
That probably was as much for fire protection as tradition, given that we cut our easy-to-brown cedar trees in the back fields of our farm and toted them to the house on a tractor and slide, but that process also formed in a young mind certain expectations that not every nuance of the season had to be accomplished by Dec. 1, or before healthcare.gov worked properly, whichever came first.
Some of you seem to be in a race with your neighbors, as if every street and corner were as described by John Grisham in Skipping Christmas. If your Frosty isn’t on the roof post haste, the homeowners association might come around to address that “problem” as if you had painted your garage door chartreuse and dug up your front yard for gravel and a koi pond.
Too many of us seem crouched and on our mark for a 4-week sprint.
But I prefer distance races, with time for Holiday Inn and Miracle on 34th Street before jumping right in with White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. These movies sort of form the narrative, and sometimes that is a bad idea. Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer was on network TV this year before Santa had arrived in Herald Square.
Thanksgiving indigestion barely was remedied when we settled into this ho-ho-holiday frenzy.
For some of you, that meant storming the gates of stores everywhere, even as early as Thursday evening. For the rest of us there was A Christmas Carol at Shelby County Community Theater or maybe a wonderful holiday concert by the Louisville Orchestra and Louisville Youth Choir on Saturday. Either way, the spirit floated through the room and seized control of our senses.
Christmas trees that seemed to arrive on lots when we were picking up our turkeys suddenly were on the move. I saw one strapped to the top of an SUV at the parking garage outside the Brown Theater, where the orchestra and choir entertained. I saw another stuffed into the back of a pickup at Kroger. Santa has been spotted in a variety of locations, even walking the aisles at said concert.
And now a special note for you Gray Thursday and Black Friday shoppers. I’m so sorry, but you’ve lost your moral compasses in a race for deals. I appreciate a good sale as much as anyone, but I appreciate the fine traditions of Christmas far more fervently.
I realize there are people I know and love who fit this description, but I shake my head sadly when I hear of a family who spent the entire overnight into Friday morning shopping. I know another guy who got every deal Walmart had to offer. I heard of some who accomplished all their shopping and barely were home in time to do the morning milking. The Oscars’ after-parties don’t last that long.
Did you know that there is a Web site that compiles the injuries and deaths brought about by Black Friday? Deaths! As of Monday, there had been nearly 100 injuries, and one in 10 of those persons had died.
Dying on the shopping trail for Christmas?! Have we lost our blinkin’ beacons?
And then there is this: A lot of those shoppers were out there not to find a good deal on nice gifts for family and friends but to buy stuff for themselves. During Christmas season.
Another sign that I am old: I endorse a constitutional amendment that prohibits purchasing something for yourself between Nov. 1 and Dec. 26. No selfies allowed.
This always has been a pet peeve, mainly because too often the perfect gift I had had in mind was usurped by a self-purchase. And don’t get me started about people who choose a gift for themselves and then give that gift to a person to give to them. Since I’ve grown too big for Santa’s lap, I always felt awkward suggesting my own gift.
So, yes, Congress should enact a new law, but with one pardon: The last survivor of the Black Friday sales, you can buy for yourself.