So it’s Thanksgiving. Are your Christmas decorations up yet? Ah yes. By the second sentence I’ve already stepped in it, haven’t I? When is it too early to decorate for Christmas? When is it OK to put up the tree, hang the lights and deck the halls? Before Thanksgiving? Wait until Dec. 1? Do it the day after Thanksgiving?
In our house, we have always started decorating on the day after Thanksgiving because I believe in fully relishing that family holiday. Even for the nearly two decades I lived multiple states away from family, I always held a “friends-giving” in my apartment. I have many wonderful memories of those times.
But back to Christmas. My motto is “go big or don’t bother.” My husband is more tolerant. When I scoff at a house with a single light strand around a door, he says, “Well, at least they tried.”
When I say decorate, I mean everything. Outdoors, we drape lights over every tree branch and bush in the yard; hang those giant bulbs from those tree branches and bushes; pull out the inflatables (more on those later); position the family of fake deer and their sparkly red neck ribbons; and pull out the unstable but well-loved plastic 2-foot-high plastic Santa and snowman. Spotlights are sometimes added. I haven’t quite yet embraced those things that project images on a house. We tried one a couple of years ago that projected red and green dots. I aimed it at the house and at nighttime, went to observe the Christmas miracle. It looked like our nice little Lakewood bungalow had the measles. And the lights projected inside the house were making the dogs go insane.
Getting to our inside decorations, I drape twinkle lights and garland on the mantel; pull out a large manger; drape twinkle lights in every room (OK, the family room has twinkle lights year-round attached where the walls and ceiling meet. Don’t judge.); and basically bedeck and bedazzle every surface.
Once everything is up, for five weeks I smile every time I drive home at night. Walking into the house makes me smile broader. I love it.
This year … yep, we really need a little Christmas. Many have already put up their Christmas lights. It’s fine. We need some brightness after a dark year of worrying about our health and the health of our fellow humans. It looks like national statistics bear out what we already know: We need the holiday season this year. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items such as decorations and food, and additional “non-gift” purchases.
This is only slightly down from last year. Overall spending in these categories is down by about $50 from last year. According to the NRF, “nearly all ($45) of the decrease comes from consumers’ hesitation to use seasonal sales and promotions to buy other, non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.”
The spirit of giving is high in 2020: “Consumer spending on gifts is on par with last year, decreasing by only about $8, while per person spending on other holiday items like decorations is actually up slightly. Expected spending remains significantly higher than the 5-year average for both those categories,” according to the NRF report.
My Thanksgiving wish for all is a safe and healthy holiday season. Let’s be grateful for what we have, take a deep breath, and look forward to COVID-mitigated 2021.
Throwing a few twinkle lights around the house and leaving them up all year wouldn’t hurt either.
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