December (and November) Magic

Not that long ago, Christmas was only one day… December 25th. People didn’t put up their trees until the night before and shopping didn’t start until around the 20th. Forget about stores advertising about sales and buying quickly.

Movies that illustrate this are:

“A Christmas Story” set in 1939

“Love Finds Andy Hardy” set in 1938

Then families started celebrating two days, the 24th and 25th to make the two sides of the family feel included. Trees were still freshly cut and dried out too quickly to allow them to be put up much earlier than the 21st. This fit with the Pagan celebrations of Yule, where they often decorated with ‘hanging of the greens’ ceremonies.

People started moving further away from one another that meant they needed to start their Christmas shopping a little earlier in order to mail them across the country or travel to visit in an attempt to get the whole family home for Christmas. Still decorating was limited to two weeks before Christmas.

A time came that stores started realizing that the major portion of their income came in the weeks before Christmas. They started making a big deal on the day after Thanksgiving. Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to make the Christmas selling season longer by making Thanksgiving a week earlier. The idea bombed.

A movie that illustrates this is:

“A Miracle on 34th Street”

Friday was reserved as the kick-off day for the Christmas season. Stores hired people to work late Thanksgiving night for the grand unveiling of the Christmas decorations on Friday morning. Santa arrived at the malls after he had traveled down 34th Street in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We still had the division between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What happened? Now Christmas items started showing up in some stores in August. Decorations were for sale with Halloween costumes and the stores started their Christmas decorating in mid-November. Santa had already been at the malls for two weeks!! On TV there were shows dedicated on how to survive Black Friday!! It was like boot camp for shoppers! Sales that never happened until Dec 26th were advertised a month earlier.

Jewish families felt like they had to compete with Christmas, giving more and more gifts than the traditional 8 that normally is given to children on Hannukah.

While I’m not a Christian, I still believe that the Christmas season is meant to be about family, love, appreciation, warmth, and light. It’s never meant to be about gross commercialization. Even in the original movie “Miracle on 34th Street”, they talked about selling simply to make a profit, and that was almost 60 years ago.

Then the pandemic hit, and rules and traditions changed drastically. Families were quarantined and had to stay home, and parents needed to come up with ideas for a Christmas version of the staycation. Most stores were closed but Amazon and online shopping took over. Many of us put up our Christmas trees early so the lights could bring joy during a dark time.

I used to be one of those who had a strict rule about not putting up Christmas decorations until the day after Thanksgiving. My daughter usually ignored me and put her small Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving day. Eventually, we started putting all of the big trees and outside lights up right after dinner on Turkey day.

It’s been a rough two years and a lot of people feel the need for more and earlier.

There has been a lot of discussion, posts, and articles about decorating early.

Christmas these days is more than just one day, or two… it is a combination of many holidays that range from St. Nicholas Day to Santa Lucia Day to Winter Solstice and Yuletide. Why can’t Thanksgiving just be one of these daily holidays?

Thanksgiving isn’t going away or being ignored. It’s just now going to be part of the holiday season. Putting up a Christmas tree on November 1st doesn’t “cancel” Thanksgiving. A lot of people are now realizing that the traditional Thanksgiving traditions are a bit singular and racist, that it’s only the holy and pious Christian Pilgrims who counted and who included the so-called “savage” Indians to their feast, forgetting that the Wampanoag Natives provided the majority of the meat to the dinner.

As a descendent of several lines of Pilgrims, I know that the Pilgrims were not as perfect that many Christians want to believe. The Pilgrims didn’t create a Christian nation in the United States, but they did inspire the ideas that are part of the US Constitution; freedom of religion, a government representative of all of the citizens, and three branches of government. Those things need to be honored as well, and the Pilgrims not to be idolized.

Thanksgiving is no longer just turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, none of which were at the original “Thanksgiving”. Now they can include Native American, Jewish, Muslim, Japanese, Chinese, Scandinavian, British and French traditions and foods. While Thanksgiving is considered an American and Canadian holiday, those immigrants (and we all are immigrants, the only true Americans are the Native Americans) whose roots extend to other countries are importing their own spin on things.

There are good reasons to put up Christmas trees and lights earlier than usual:

It Could Make You Happier

Christmas Desserts (start baking earlier)

It’s Getting Cold (and Dark)

To Enjoy Them Longer

You’ll Have Somewhere to Take Christmas Card Photos

Singing Christmas songs, carols, and hymns

I watched the movie “November Christmas”. It’s one of my favorites and it doesn’t hurt that Sam Elliott is in it. I noticed that a lot of us are having November Christmases this year. Between the agony of the elections and the fears of the pandemic, we are exhausted and need some joy, some color, and some light. I’ve been reading that people are already putting up Christmas trees and listening to Christmas music and I’m doing the same. The Tribe put up their lighting display earlier than normal. I was so ready for this year to be over and if an early Christmas can make things better, I’m all for it. Normally, I want to celebrate Thanksgiving but not this year. This year Thanksgiving will be a part of Christmas. ~ November 2020

2021 wasn’t much better than the year before. We still have Covid surges to worry about. Trump followers waged an insurrection. I became a widow after my husband suddenly died. I moved to the otherside of the state. But I still watch “November Christmas” and once again, Thanksgiving, for many of us, will be part of Christmas. ~ November 2021

To see more of my December Magic webpage, just follow this link:

But it’s still a work in project and I will be adding new things every day.

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