I’m Just Saying: Decorations up before Advent? Let it go this year.

Published 4:46 pm Thursday, December 7, 2017

Just a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how Thanksgiving is so often bulldozed by everything that’s wrong about Christmas: commercialism, materialism, fighting over sales items instead of savoring time with loved ones.

This week I feel as if I’m experiencing a 180 in regards to decorating.

When I drove Paul to the airport on the evening of first day of November, I was quite startled to pass Christmas decorations already up on a handful of homes along the way: wreaths encircled with white lights, a tree in the window….The sights reminded me how early decorating used to drive my mother nuts.

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 “It’s not even Advent!” she’d cry in dismay.

“You’re assuming everyone is an Anglican,” I’d reply. “Not everyone follows the same liturgical calendar as Episcopalians.”

“Well, I think it’s very sad not to even consider the meaning of Advent,” she’d counter, not accepting my explanation. “It’s a time of solemnity, self reflection. Not sticking a giant inflatable snowman on the lawn.”

I would shake my head as she felt compelled to add, her traditional English upbringing bursting forth, “And when those things aren’t inflated they look just awful–like dead bodies strewn across the yard!”

Well, Merry Christmas!

But truth be told, I also thought it was sad that such emphasis was put on decorating before anyone had even booked a flight reservation for Thanksgiving. This year, I confess my attitude is relaxing substantially in that respect.

“I bought a little tree and we’re going to decorate this weekend,” a dear friend of mine emailed a week ago. “I have never decorated this early before!”

And when she shared that her musings about why this year felt different she hit the nail on the head of my own feelings that I had bound inside and been unable to articulate until she gave them voice.

For those of you who have had a wonderful 2017, filled with love, success, prosperity and radiant health, I rejoice with you. I truly do. But Holy Bovine, for many this has been one of the saddest and most frightening years ever experienced.

We have wept and covered our eyes over unfathomable mass shootings in our country all year long, each seemingly larger and more barbaric. We are holding our collective breaths regarding the very real threat of a nuclear war and terrorism. Several friends have suffered heartrending losses and accidents. My own story was a minor surgery with a side effect resulting in losing my voice for over six months and being unable to work. Compared to others I know that was a walk in the park for which any of them would have gladly traded.

Today I am turning off the TV to prevent advertisers from telling me that if I don’t have a brand new Lexus in the driveway topped with an enormous red bow, my husband isn’t as generous as I thought he was. I am following Advent with my daily devotional. And you’d better believe not only am I displaying the unbroken pieces of my childhood nativity (if I turn a frankincense carrying king to face Mary, he fills in for the missing Joseph), but I am also stuffing every vase with freshly clipped holly, pine and cedar carried in from the woods. Those same woods with the newly cleared trails Paul and I labored over last week.

My favorite trail sweeps gracefully downhill, and with the leaves having fallen away from the hardwoods, the winter view of the majesty of the Blue Ridge rises before me. With it comes the recollection of a sermon my friend Sharon once gave…What an inspiring metaphor to faith a winter view is. Because when times are heartbreakingly difficult and Providence feels very far away, just because you can neither see or feel the comfort you seek, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

And if stringing lights across your front porch or putting candles in your windows or inflating that giant snowman gives you a much needed feeling of joy along with the intimate comfort of home and hearth, even if it isn’t December, baby, you go right ahead.

I’m pretty sure that especially this year, even my mom would agree.