In mid-October, I was in a large, chain drugstore and was flabbergasted to see they were selling Christmas decorations! Now, a week before Thanksgiving, practically every store, from mega-box to mom-and-pop, is decked out in Christmas stuff.
Xmas stuff by Patrick Q
It's understandable; the economy is dragging along for a second, sorry year. Retailers are scared, and they're hoping to prod us into buying more, and buying it earlier, to make up for some of their losses.
But what really freaks me out is people are starting to follow suit in their homes! A solid week before Turkey Day, on a walk through my neighborhood, I saw icicle lights hanging from eaves, inflatable snowmen on front yards, and red-and-green wreaths on front doors
Come on, people! We can love the seasons without turning this into Seasonal Affection Disorder! (Yeah, that's an illness. And yeah, I just made it up.)
Just because the retailers are in a hurry to push the Season of Buying upon us, doesn't mean we have to follow suit. We don't have to buy those mistletoeglittergarlandsSantaornamentsHanukkahgeltwrappingpaperdreidelKwanzaacandlesflockingstockings before we've even finished passing out the Halloween candy. And if we do buy our seasonal goodies early (pre-sales! gotta get them before they run out!), we don't have to put them up the moment we buy the stuff.
So I have a humble proposal: Let's hew to a new, saner, calmer schedule of honoring the holidays by celebrating them closer to when they really are. Here's my proposed schedule for the year (feel free to adapt it to your beliefs/observances).
Christmas/Kwaanza: Decor up on December 1; decor down by the first weekend after New Year's Day.
Hanukkah: Decor up no more than three weeks before the first night. Decor down by the first weekend after the last night.
Valentine's Day: Decor up on February 1; decor down by first weekend after February 14.
St. Patrick's Day: Decor up on March 1; decor down by first weekend after March 17.
Easter: This one is tricky because the holiday floats around the calendar a bit. Decor up no earlier than three weekends before Easter Sunday. Decor down by the weekend following Easter.
Passover: As with Easter, this holiday is based on the lunar calendar. Decor up no earlier than three weeks before the first Seder; decor down by the weekend following the last (eighth) night.
Memorial Day, Presidents' Day, Flag Day, Veteran's Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Flags up no earlier than sunrise; flags down a half-hour before sundown. If your flag is properly illuminated, it can stay up until midnight, then down it goes.
Independence Day: Decor up on July 1; decor down by midnight July 5. See Presidents' Day, above, for flag etiquette.
August, thankfully, has no major holidays in it. Take a breather and don't think about decorating at all.
Rosh Hashanah: Unless you have little kids who are coming home from Hebrew school with construction-paper shofars, you don't really have an excuse to decorate for this holiday. Save your energy up for Yom Kippur. And if you even think of decorating for Yom Kippur, you need to have your head examined.
Halloween: Decor up on October 1; decor down by the the time you go to bed that night. Yeah, I know this is harsh, but think about it: Do you really want carved pumpkins and straw scarecrows out on your front lawn while gangs of mischief-makers are up to no good while you're asleep?
Didn't think so. Besides, you want to get those puppies up off the lawn and front door so that you can decorate bright and early the next day, November 1, for...
Thanksgiving: Decor up on November 1; decor down by the first weekend after the holiday. You have my permission to recycle any intact, uncut pumpkins from Halloween for this month.
Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, Graduation season, June-bride season: People don't decorate their houses for these days. Stores do. Unless you run a shop, keep your observances to gifts, cards, and a festive meal for the honoree. You are not a Macy's.
And thank you for recycling your Christmas trees.