WORDS BY BEN DUNGAN
I think it may have been the fourth house on the left, right as you turn into the
neighborhood where I live. But one thing I’m sure of, it was definitely the first house
that had its Christmas decorations up since March, right about the time when the
coronavirus pandemic became real to us all and sentenced us to stay at home.
Halloween candy wrappers were still littered throughout the neighborhood, but that didn’t matter to this family. They instantly segued from one holiday to the next without skipping a beat. It didn’t take long to hang the Christmas wreaths in the windows, wire up and anchor the spotlights into the ground and stage the evergreen reindeer right by the lit up crepe myrtles.
Let’s face it, Christmas had arrived in my neighborhood.
If there is one thing about the Christmas spirit, it can be competitive and contagious. It’s like a domino effect. It just takes one neighbor to get it started.
It didn’t take long before other neighbors followed suit. Icicle lights started going up. Inflatables began taking shape. Christmas light projectors were activated. The Hallmark movie folks would have been proud. The only thing missing was snow.
What started two streets over finally made it over to my street. That’s when I was told, by my better half of course, that the Christmas decorations were going up at our house, albeit two weeks earlier than normal.
That was a bit of a surprise, but when it comes to Christmas, the holiday itself is never a surprise. It comes at the same time, on the same day, each and every year. But for some reason, the year 2020 feels a little different. I know people like to jumpstart the holiday in November, but it felt extra early this year.
And for good reason. It’s been a year. I guess we’re all looking for a little extra joy this season, maybe more than usual.
Let’s be blunt – it’s not been a normal year. It’s been a long and trying year. We’re tired and we’re over it.
But Christmas has a unique way of making things right in the world, even if for just a moment. It doesn’t take much. The first few notes of a holiday song. That first taste of a Christmas confection. Sometimes it’s the little things that can ignite the senses of the season, and ultimately spark joy.
If decorations need to go up directly after Halloween this year, then so be it. And while we’re at it, maybe the Christmas lights don’t need to come down so quickly after New Year’s Day.
This may be the year old traditions are put on hold, while we give ourselves permission to create news ones in light of our situation. Some Christmas norms may need to be rethought, just like our lives have been in the wake of a global pandemic.
Katharine Hepburn once said “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” That goes for joy too. Christmas only comes once a year. Don’t miss the Christmas spirit when it moves in on your street.