It was Sept. 19 when my daughter and I walked into Costco to discover Christmas trees and decorations. I know the exact date because I took a picture of her hugging a tree and posted it to Instagram — like any good millennial mom would do. Honestly, it was just her joy I was trying to share. This child of mine was elated to see the first hints of Christmas coming her way. And as far as I'm concerned, her joy is contagious . . . a sentiment that is apparently not shared by the rest of the world. At least not when Christmas is the source of her happiness.
Instead of commenting on the joy in my child's eyes, I was quickly surprised by just how many people weren't up for any of it. "Seriously, can't they wait until Thanksgiving is over?" some people asked. "Why do we have to put up with four months of this?" others moaned. And I sat there, perturbed, wondering why they couldn't just walk past the single aisle of decorations if it bothered them so? Why be irritated in the face of a child's joy?
The thing is, I get it to an extent. I used to be a Scrooge myself. For most of my life, the holiday season was my least favorite time of year. I had my reasons, including less-than-ideal holiday memories from my childhood and a fractured family that made the holidays feel even lonelier as a result. I spent more than a few Christmases completely on my own, and at least a decade of holidays working in bars and restaurants, where I had to listen to Christmas carols on repeat for two to three months straight. The holiday dread is something I can completely relate to.
But then I became a mother, and seeing Christmas through my child's eyes changed everything for me. Year after year, I got more into the holiday spirit. The decorations, the traditions, the building happy holiday memories for myself and my little girl today, to make up for the less-than-happy ones from my childhood.
And now? I'm a damn Christmas elf. And the honest truth is, I got just as excited about seeing those trees and decorations in Costco that day as my little girl did. There's something about that first appearance of Christmas that just sparks so much joy. If I were to Marie Kondo that sh*t, I'd throw none of the holiday spirit out.
But plenty of people feel differently. And sadly, their Scrooge-y ways put a damper on my initial joy — and my daughter's. Because yes, she noticed the people complaining as they walked past, even as she was beaming with excitement. "Why are they so mad, Mama?" she asked. And while I tried to explain that not everyone celebrates Christmas, and that some people just think it's too early, I also found myself faltering. Why are they so mad, I wondered.
These are the same people who get irritated when others decorate their own homes before Thanksgiving, or who complain about streets with too many Christmas lights. But how does it affect them, really? Why can't they just look the other way? The thing is, stores wouldn't put out these displays so early if the majority of their customer base weren't ready for it. They wouldn't waste the space if no one was browsing, or if the displays themselves weren't bringing people joy. They do it because most people are ready to buy for, and embrace, the holiday season. Even if everyone isn't.
But one thing I know for sure is that if it's too early for Christmas, it's definitely too early for the Grinch to make an appearance. Because four months of complaining about holiday decor, especially to the people who get joy from it, is a third of a year of negativity that I simply cannot take.
So how about we call a truce? You ignore that five percent of the store is currently marketing to a holiday that seems to make your blood boil, and those of us who love it will try not to rub it in your face.
But just remember, a child being truly excited about Christmas trees isn't trying to make anyone else uncomfortable. She's just happy. And maybe it's OK to see the joy in that, rather than trying to strip it away so early.
P.S. Psychologists have found people who decorate early for Christmas are happier. Just saying.