How the Grinch Saved Christmas

My daddy told tales from his childhood of putting up the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  In the old Cary Grant-Loretta Young version of "The Bishop's Wife", they decorate the tree on Christmas Eve.  Donna Reed and kids are decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve when Jimmy Stewart comes in with trouble from the bank examiner.  According to Anglican church tradition, Christmas decorations don't go up until after all four Sundays in Advent have been celebrated.

This year we're following suit. 

It seems that the Christmas creep gets earlier and earlier every year.  Stores were decorated this year even before Hallowe'en.  The week before Thanksgiving there were at least two houses in our neighborhood in full Christmas-light regalia.  Some of my high school friends asked on Facebook whether the day before Thanksgiving was too early to put up the tree.  And some of my close friends put theirs up on Black Friday.

Through the years, I've begun feeling that people seem to be hanging onto Christmas a bit too much.  They try to milk every last drop of party time out of December and leave up the lights on their houses until St. Valentine's Day.  I'm reminded of the Chip and Dale cartoon where they wished for Christmas to happen every day.  After a while it got old.

To appreciate the specialness of the season, it must be fleeting.  To appreciate the happiness of Christmas, we must remember Good Friday.  For to really understand and have a gauge for happiness one must understand grief and sadness.

[This is where my mind races off in tangents about non-Christians, especially those raised in the church who never darken the church door, adorning their living rooms with evergreen trees and giving presents to each other on December 25th.  But that's another rant, er, I mean, blog.]

So in these days of Advent, there is going out a decree from Mrs. Gaelic that all the Gaelic household shall observe Advent during Advent and Christmas during Christmas.  There will be no pop-guns, bikes, roller skates, or drums, no checkerboards, trikes, popcorn, or plums.  No presents, no ribbon, no wrappings.  No tags, no tinsel, no trimming, no trappings.  Not one little speck of the holiday season.  Not 'til the calendar says it's time for the Christmas season.

[Yeah, yeah, I know I'm mixing my allusions here.]

While everyone else in the world (so it seems) is decorating their trees, and mantles, and banisters, and front doors, we'll be lighting purple and pink candles.  And while everyone else in the world (so it seems from past years) will be flooding the stores for 75% off Christmas merchandise, we'll be just getting started with our celebration. 

I may sound like the Grinch with my stern decree.  But for twelve short days, my family will know that Christmas is here for only the briefest of moments before being swept away into the gift-giving season of Epiphany.


  1. I agree completely. When I was a kid, we never actually decorated the tree until Christmas Eve. Then we caught so much teasing and flack by the neighbors that we gave in a bit and put up the tree and decorated it a week before Christmas. And it stayed that way. The tree came down on New Yrs Day and was put into the back yard still trimmed with the popcorn strings for the birds and wildlife.
    Here, the entire street already has everything up and lit, except for me. When I see it all so early, it makes me want to get lit myself, lol. I hate looking like the Scrooge house, so I'll cave and do the same but it won't be until another week or 2 goes by (hopefully the 2).

  2. I certainly agree about the overdoing of Christmas - AND Halloween - AND Easter, etc. Somehow Thanksgiving avoids this creep (little to sell?). I don't put up a tree at all, anymore - nor do I decorate unless I am in the mood and see a nice door wreath. However when I DID, or if I do again (which would mean finding someone to celebrate with), my tree will go up no more than a week before and ideally come down the day after New Year's day. No fire hazard like a dried out tree - and yes, it starts seeming old and tired. I'll bet some of those folks that never darken a church door (me!) hold to the spirit of the day way better than the shouting, singing masses who can't elbow enough people aside on Black Friday or drink enough, or snarl enough at the kids - I have HAD the religious end of holidays in my youth and it damn near broke my spirit. Of course I still love the pretty bible story where Joseph and Mary put up their tree and - oh wait...
    The problem is adults have taken over a lot of holidays that are mostly for kids - Halloween grows like a cancer and yet the kids are now often kept in because of overhyped news stories of events that maybe happen ONCE in the whole nation. The razorblades in apples has never happened, for instance, except in one or two cases where it turned out that the parents did it. ("I'll be famous! I'll be on the T and V!!")
    You don't sound like a grinch at all, you sound like someone who is holding to her own customs, and if there is a little Christian disdain for your atheist neighbors creeping in - well, what is more in keeping with the holy message? BTW, when I arrived years ago at my Hindu friend's house on Xmas Day (sheer coincidence) I thought I was in the wrong place because there was a big lit star on the house. He told me, "Oh, we celebrate them all!" I kind of thought that was neat.

  3. I guess I'm a scrooge in seeing that Christmas is all about money and it's not really the celebration of Christ's birth. He didn't even tell us to celebrate His birth. I finally put up a tiny tree mostly to see how Kassey would react with it and last year my TN son brought us a tiny decorated one, so I used it.They are pretty and everyone likes lighted trees. I only give gifts to the wee ones in my family. Yes, it is for the kids.

  4. @David, You remember my Hallowe'en rant! Hahaha. Anyway, I guess I'm just more opinionated in my old age. You have such great insights and comments. Too bad you live so far away. I'd love to talk over a big bottle of wine.

  5. Girl! This was a blog among blogs! GOOD on you and hallelujah! I agree whole heartedly.

    I detest the commercialism and that now we can't even get Halloween over before Christmas things appear to sell. I detest Halloween too..always have, but..I recognize that's just me.

    I'd love to join you and David over that bottle of wine. Chardonnay? Cabenet Sauvignon?

  6. Well said Wifie, but being a true Scot, New Year was celebrated more so than Christmas, that was solely for the children, in fact I can't remember when the fashion for giving presents to grown ups started, I can't recall ever seeing adults exchanging gifts. This year i've treated myself to some trimmings such as fairy lights, as I stopped decorations when the children left home, perhaps I'm entering my second childhood.

  7. I will put up a little tree on the 23rd and do my Christmas shopping on the 24th. I generally feel the Holiday season ends on January 1st.

    I tend to like the Holiday season because people seem a bit nicer and perhaps a bit kinder. More hungry people are fed and people feel more charitable. And really if you think about it anything that makes people act better for a time is worthwhile.

  8. HEY! Don't leave me out of that bottle of wine with David, yourself, and Carole!

  9. Hear, hear! I'm with you but I know the rest of this family will overrule (is that one word?).