Even with all the warning, I just can't see to get up to speed with the holidays.
Way back around Halloween when the first hints of Christmas decorations were sprouting like too-early crocuses poking through a February snow, I looked around and figured there was plenty of time. My kids still had uneaten candy from trick or treating.
Thanksgiving, which I swear someone moved so it fell the week after Halloween this year, was fast upon me and there was a lot of cooking and cleaning to do. By now Christmas hype was, as it always is at Thanksgiving, turned up to full volume. Still, it was easy to ignore because Christmas was still weeks away.
My wife, Anne, dutifully decked the inside of the house with decorations and my only responsibility was to bring up the artificial tree (our preference would be for a real one, but allergies make that an unpleasant proposition). Me? Well a few years back I bought a few dozen ornaments that are fairly weather resistant and good for decorating some of the outdoor shrubs. I had good intentions of getting around to this, but they're still in the garage, and too far out of reach for me to give serious thought to going in after them at this late date. That's OK. They'll be there next year and I swear I'll put them near the door at the end of August.
Another thing I've never gotten around to doing around Christmastime is finding out about sugar plums. I'm fairly confident plums aren't in season in late fall, so it strikes me that some sort of dehydrated plum will come into play. Now dehydrated grapes are raisins, dehydrated tomatoes are marketed as "sun dried," then there are banana chips and dried apricots, all of which have a certain culinary cache. Dried plums, however, are prunes, and, while they're tasty enough, their main claim to fame is their singular natural prowess at draining the alimentary canal.
Possibly that's why, though I hear about visions of sugar plums every holiday season, and I'll hear 10 versions of "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, I've never actually seen a sugar plum. As a result of not knowing what one looks like, I've never actually had a vision of one.
So by now I've gotten pretty far afield from where I was headed when I started this, so let's get back to my theme, namely the early start of the Christmas season and my resulting holiday procrastination.
Before Christmas, a lot of times, my procrastination on the grounds that Christmastime starts so early I've got plenty of time translates into getting less accomplished before the holiday than expected. But there is an upside to that, and one I've come to notice in a few other people as well, namely that if you let the holiday season drag on past the new year, it's increasingly OK to have low key holiday parties now that there's not so much to do before Christmas. It's easier for people to make it to a Christmas party in mid-January than it is in mid-December, probably because there aren't very many of them.
Personally, I'd like to see that change. It is possible you've gotten the impression from reading so far that I'm mildly against the extension of the holiday season, but that's not really the case. Every year I hear expressed a sentiment I wholly agree with, though that sentiment fades fast starting on Dec. 26: "Wouldn't it be nice if the holiday spirit were in effect throughout the year."
My answer is: "It sure would."
The way to accomplish this, however, isn't by extending sales and having Christmas Parties in January (or summertime, like the gathering one of my daughter's friends had a few months back) but by trying to be a little nicer every day. It ain't easy. I've tried it and sometimes I just can't hold my tongue. But I have found I am able to hold the door, or hold the elevator or even lend a hand with a chore that isn't my responsibility, and without expecting to be owed one.
When it comes down to it, Christmas, which literally translates to celebration of Christ, is the holiday that denotes the humanity of the Christian savior rather than his divinity (that's Easter). Every one of us has a birthday, but resurrection? That's another matter entirely.
The human example in the savior's life was one of washing the feet of his friends, making sure the crowd had enough to eat and (at the request of his mother) making sure the wedding party didn't run out of wine causing an early end and embarrassment.
The example addresses the very human concerns of our everyday lives and, at least to me, represents what the coming holiday is all about and how much better place the world would be if we lived every day like it were Christmas.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun