I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. What started as a purposeless meander through the aisles of my local Home Depot resulted in a panicked check of the date on my watch. No, it’s actually still September, as I thought it was – whew. But then, why was there an entire row of Christmas decorations on display already? Artificial trees, ornaments, lights, all topped off by a lineup on top of the shelves of grotesquely inflated giant Christmas figures – Santa himself in several comical incarnations, reindeer, snowmen, and the up-and-coming neighborhood favorite, the giant snowglobes with internal fans blowing around fake snow inside. I swear, they all get bigger and bigger each year. Makes me wonder when I’ll finally start to see some of them in a parade, floating above some urban street somewhere, controlled and guided with taut ropes by a small team of people on the ground?
September…really? We’re talking three full months prior to the holiday itself. Do we really need that much of a jump on the holiday? It makes me reflect about the real meaning of the holiday, as it was intended, before the commercial machine known as “retail sales” twisted and perverted it under it’s thumb. Plus, in Phoenix where I live, it was 105 degrees that day (yes, in late September – it happens), so I wasn’t really moved by the “wintry-holiday-nip-in-the-air” vibe that the decorations were meant to stir up within me.
Pretty much every year, late in the year, as decorations start to appear in stores, I go through the same thoughtful process, a process that continues to nudge me toward the possibility that I’ll make this year different. That I’ll finally and completely rebel and be more faithful to the spirit of what I believe the holiday was meant to truly elicit from people. Instead of fights breaking out at Walmart over $39 DVD players, how about we all volunteer at a homeless shelter? Instead of trampling the common laws of etiquette at the malls, why not donate unused items to a family in need? Instead of giving purchased items as an embodiment of our fondness for someone, why not truly give from our hearts in the form of a letter to someone about what you like about them, a handmade gift of some kind – something, anything that shows true thoughtfulness and caring?
Just a hope that this year will be different. Whoa, gotta go now. Toys-R-Us is having a raffle for the Christmas-edition Justin Bieber doll.