Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Hallmark Christmas Lesson

I vowed I wouldn't start Christmas early this year. I'm one of those people that usually starts listening to Christmas music in October. I justify it by saying I need to get in the spirit to start crafting all those handmade gifts I talk about making. But the fact of the matter is, I just love it. I'm one of those people. But since this is Dayton's first Christmas I wanted him to get the full dose of it in December. I didn't want the experience muddled with it being all drawn out. As if a six month old has a clue anyway...

But Hallmark started showing their Christmas movies this weekend and I got sucked in. There was nothing else on TV worth watching. I can only watch so many episodes of the Food Networks' 'Chopped' or reruns of 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. So I succumbed to the Hallmark channel's cheesy Christmas movies.

And this got me thinking...why does Christmas seem to creep in earlier and earlier each year?

Many people say it's because it's so commercial. The stores can make an extra sale by plastering the word 'Christmas' on everything. When they trot out the holiday merchandise early and start those holiday sales people buy, to get it out of the way, to avoid the long lines, to avoid the hustle and hassle later.

But I don't think it's all commercialism. Maybe I'm a Linus in a Charlie Brown world, but I don't think this early Christmas creep is just to make money. It's not all aluminum Christmas trees and holiday parties.

I think we crave the feeling of Christmas. We love the twinkling lights and snow covered roof-tops and lopsided but happy snowmen out in the yard. Who doesn't look forward to delicious holiday cookies and steaming mugs of hot cocoa with marshmallows bobbing like buoys? Every family has their own traditions and favorite movies. As a kid the Halsey family watched 'White Christmas' each and every year. I think my own family, the Berry family, will watch 'Muppets' Christmas Carol' every Christmas eve...and anxiously wait for all the cartoons to be on TV. There's a whole atmosphere of Christmas...rituals, traditions, that are familiar and homey and snug and warm.

Perhaps that's why I couldn't resist the Hallmark channel's Christmas movies. They have a particular gift for crafting Christmas. All of their movies take place in quaint towns full of quirky but lovable people. There's usually an old person who needs cheering up, or who cheers up a jaded young person. There's always a love story and a cute kid or two. The towns are all bedecked with wreaths and lights and snow always falls at just the right moment. And in the church there's always a Christmas pageant or a carol sing on Christmas eve. The Hallmark Christmas world is perfect. Just the right amount of greenery, mistletoe, cocoa, and carols. And we want that world...

Because that world isn't too busy for family and friends. That world seems so restful. The long lines and frazzled shoppers and exhausted salespeople don't exist in that world. Priorities are straight, or straightened, and there's something we crave in that.

I think this is the real reason Christmas sneaks in a little earlier each year. It's the whisper carried on the frosty winds...the whisper to come back to traditions of our youth...the whisper to cherish these fleeting moments...the whisper to worship the Savior.

Of course, the whisper gets covered up by the shouts of holiday deals and must-have toys and bargains and black Friday!!!!

An exclamation mark always overpowers an ellipses. The rush always overtakes a pause. But it's the pause we long for...and it's why we let Christmas come a little earlier every year. Because maybe this year, we'll get it right. We won't worry about that perfect gift or holiday dinner. It won't matter if we burn the cookies and all the gifts look like the dog wrapped them. Our holidays don't have to look like a Hallmark's the feeling we crave. The slowing down...the coming together...the worshiping on a holy night.

So, yes, I gave in when I said I wouldn't...I'm letting Christmas start early...this first weekend in November. I haven't started the music yet. We'll see how long I can delay that itch...but I won't apologize for letting Christmas come early in our house. I think maybe I need to let it in early because maybe I need that long to figure it out...not how to get have the perfect Christmas (thank you very much, Good Housekeeping)...but how to really have the right Christmas spirit in my heart and home.

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