Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Haul out the holly...

Ready or not, here comes Christmas!

Or at least, this is what retail America wants us to believe until New Year's Eve approaches and it becomes Valentine's Day season. In fact, some stores didn't even wait until Halloween was over this year to start bombarding us with holiday cheer -- the CVS in my W. Philadelphia neighborhood started putting up the twinkle lights and cone shaped pine trees on Oct. 20, and the following weekend, I saw Santa's workshop open for business in the Ithaca mall. If Halloween isn't a barrier for early Christmas decorating, does this mean that Christmas in July might really be a reality in Macy's next year?

It is no secret that I love Christmas. LOVE IT. Advent season in the Catholic Church is my favorite time in our faith, but I also love the commercialized rituals -- the cards, the specials on TV, the parties, the decorations (the tree!), the presents, the songs, the food...and yes, the cheesy Santa hats. I love taking time to go shopping for the people I love, on a quest to find an absolutely perfect present. But all of these early Christmas displays (and overly loud holiday music!) in stores everywhere do not help rekindle my Christmas spirit...they are a buzzkill. They ruin my excitement. It's hard to be full of anticipation for that special time of year when the definition of special becomes extended to a three or four month period.

So, to try to get in the swing of the holiday season, I started brainstorming for Christmas presents for my relatives (and David's) and friends. Nada. I could not think of a single thing that would make any of them happy! I browsed all of my favorite online shopping sources...and was totally uninspired. I began to panic. What was I going to do? I suddenly felt enormous pressure -- what if I never came up with good presents for all of them? All of a sudden, my annual shopping trip to King of Prussia with David didn't seem so appealing.

However, on Monday morning, there was a snowfall in Ithaca that was breathtakingly beautiful, and I marched through the cold just to be a part of it. Perfect white flakes fell all around me, and through the woods, the trees had a slight dusting that made them shine in the afternoon sun. As one would expect, I needed no sound system blaring Dean Martin or incredibly tacky garland to become excited about Christmas...that scene was enough to put a smile on my face, and holiday spirit in my heart. (NOTE: This is not an open invitation for Target to install a snow machine in their storefront doorways nationwide.)

And then, as I walked in the door to David's apartment it hit me -- the perfect gift for my sister. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here...even if it's a little before Thanksgiving. Let the holiday preparations begin!

P.S. Do avoid the radio though. Flipping through stations on my way back from Ithaca today, there were FIVE that were already non-stop Christmas music. SERIOUSLY? Those songs only have a limited lifetime before they defeat their purpose.

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