It’s not the boot and sweater weather, and it’s not the re-emergence of holiday cups at Starbucks. It’s also not the cold weather, nor the fact that we ‘fall back’ for DST either. While these are some of the things that I certainly look forward to, my societally-perceived “bad habit” of decorating for Christmas in November is important to me for a deeper reason.
When I was a little girl, I distinctly remember the Christmas season beginning the same way each year. The sun was already set before 5 pm in November, and the afternoons were chilly. Then, I remember leaves crunching underneath my feet as I ran home from the bus stop faster than Mariah Carey could clear her throat through the speakers in Macy’s. I’d bust through the front door like Kool-Aid Man, and, sure enough, my Mom was already halfway done hanging Christmas lights in our living room. Our sofa had already been slid over to make room for the tree. So I’d fling my backpack into the corner and grab the hot chocolate she always had waiting for me. Then, I would jam to the Christmas classics as I sipped and watched her work her magic.
Our house was also one of those houses other parents made a tradition of bringing their kids to see every year even though we weren’t aware of it. We finally noticed when my mom decided not to decorate until December one year since we were spending Thanksgiving out of state. When we returned, we were completely blindsided by the pile of letters in our mailbox from concerned neighbors. Some even thought we’d had a death in the family, so they were sending their condolences!
That was the moment decorating for Christmas in November became our family tradition.
This tradition always gave me warmth throughout the entire holiday season. My cousins would come over for Thanksgiving dinner, and we’d all sit around laughing at old stories. We’d also run around and absolutely destroy the house, which was typically a hard no in my strict household. But the joy of the festivities surpassed our parents’ drive to keep telling us to quit our bullshit; they’d even say, “Just let them be kids. It’s Thanksgiving.” Because of that, it was the most carefree time of the year for me, and it created some of the best memories I have to this date.
As an adult, I realize those memories all have one thing in common: They’re all tinted in that warm, yellow glow of the Christmas lights my mom painstakingly put up each November. Without the decorations, it would’ve been just another family get-together.
I now have the opportunity to carry on my mom’s tradition of decorating in November. That way, my daughter can hopefully grow up with similar memories from her own childhood that make her smile.
I hope these memories will give her the same warmth mine gave me each holiday season. Most importantly, though, I want her to remember that holiday traditions are your own to create, tailor, and pass down. No one should ever dictate when you choose to practice them. So if decorating for Christmas six minutes after you take off your Halloween costume makes you happy, you do you! And if you’re fed up with all the razzmatazz and prefer to wait until the week of Christmas, do your thing!
Life is short. If your holiday traditions bring you peace and happiness, practice them unapologetically.