I'm going to open a can of worms.
It's Monday night, two nights before Thanksgiving. Is it too soon to play Christmas music?
I'm browsing Spotify playlists, having exhausted all the new podcasts on my Stitcher true crime playlist. Buried among "Digging Now," "The Newness," "Rap Caviar," and "Viva Latino" (I have no idea what music I listened to to prompt Spotify to offer those suggestions.) is "Christmas Classics". More than half a million followers. I tap the icon—a 1970s-style album cover featuring a couple in striped socks lying in front of a fireplace and a Christmas tree. The playlist includes "Jingle Bell Rock," "Let it Snow," "Silver Bells," "Sleigh Ride," and about three dozen more peppy songs that make me think of animatronic snowmen in store windows, red Salvation Army kettles by store entrances, and parking spaces in store parking lots that seem twice as far away when your arms are laden with shopping bags than they did when you arrived at the store with empty hands and full wallet.
Sorry. Hang on.
(Sounds of a scuffle, huffing and puffing, a door slamming.)
I'm back. Had to lock my inner grinch in the Closet of Cynicism. As I was saying, Spotify offers me a plethora of pop songs that remind me of tinsel, candy canes, and the Hallmark Channel. My finger hovers over the "Shuffle Play" button. Do I tap it?
I do not. It's tempting but I resist the urge and go back to browsing.
You see, I have a tradition. The Christmas season doesn't officially start for me until the Santa float appears in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. No Christmas music or decorations or junk food treats before then. I have no idea where this tradition came from but I've followed it since childhood. It wasn't my parents' idea, although they indulged me when I told them about it. They never handed down any prohibitions against starting the Christmas preparations five minutes after the last trick-or-treater leaves your door. I don't remember them consciously choosing a date to start decorating. We began, always after Thanksgiving, whenever Dad talked me out of getting the tallest (most expensive) Frasier Fir on the tree lot and into getting something more affordable and small enough to fit into the family room and Mom hauled the ornaments up from the basement storage closet. My family isn't anti-Christmas. It's a religious holiday for us, more hymns than ho-ho-ho, but we enjoy making merry and we ooh and ah over tinsel and twinkle lights as much as anyone. But not before the fat man rides by on his float. Earlier just feels wrong.
Back to that can of worms. I have to ask, are you a put-up-the-mistletoe-as-soon-as-you-toss-the-jack o'lantern type? Or do you wait for the official Christmas season to decorate for the Christmas season? (Advent begins Sunday, December 3, if you're wondering.) Do you break out the holiday sparkle somewhere in between? (Hanging ornaments burns Thanksgiving calories, doesn't it?) Do you say, "Bah, humbug," and hibernate until the fuss ends?
When do you take your decorations down? The day after Santa departs? New Years' Day like my mom? Twelfth Night/Epiphany (January 6, 2018), like me? (I think whoever finds the baby in the King Cake should have to take down the Christmas tree.) Later? I knew one priest who kept her décor up until the Feast of the Presentation in February. But that's just procrastinating.