Archived Story

How early is too early?

Published 2:35pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

Though Christmas is 26 days away, it seems like everyone was decking the halls with holiday decorations before the Thanksgiving turkey was even carved.

Christmas tunes have been playing on the radio almost since Halloween ended, and Black Friday brought hundreds of thousands of frenzied shoppers to stores to purchase gifts more than a month early.

Admittedly, Christmas is one of my favorite seasons. There is nothing better than being able to spend time with relatives and reflect on how thankful I am to be surrounded by those I love.

But all of this holiday talk has me wondering – what’s the rush?

It’s hard for me to understand the intense buildup to a holiday that technically lasts 24 hours – 48, if you count Christmas Eve.

By noon on Christmas Day, most people are busy loading their trashcans with wrapping paper and boxes, cleaning up from big meals and worrying about when to take down the tree.

Don’t misunderstand me – Christmas traditions are an important part of everyone’s childhood and family life.

But I think we really miss the point of family togetherness when we spend the month leading up to the holiday worried about details of Christmas parties, driving around the state in search of the “perfect” presents and spending hundreds of dollars in the process.

I’ve heard many people mention how they are already anxious about being “behind” on their Christmas shopping, even though there are plenty of weeks – and weekends – to acquire those gifts on Santa’s list.

We get so caught up in the commercialism of the holiday that we forget why we’re celebrating in the first place, and we forget that the greatest part about giving a gift isn’t the dollar amount on the gift – it’s the simple act of altruism, of giving something to someone else and not expecting anything in return.

I’m sure I’ll join the fray at some point soon, shopping for presents for my family and friends.

But until it’s actually December, my Christmas tree, ornaments and other decorations will be safely tucked away in the attic. I’ll take my time setting it up, and once I do, there’s no doubt I’ll enjoy it while it’s there.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year – but I want to show my holiday spirit from the inside for now.

As Calvin Coolidge said, “Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

Spears is general manager and managing editor of The Outlook.