Saturday, 1 December 2012

1st December 2012 - It is December - Not Christmas

December dawns, how did that happen? Seems only yesterday that we were celebrating the lack of Summer, recalling a couple of warm days back in April, and counting the floods that formed the period from Summer Solstice to the first leaves dropping from the trees. And then, December!!
That means that Christmas will be on everyone's lips, covering the shops, the news, the streets.

Now, call me a traditionalist, but my tree and decorations go up on Christmas Eve, after the sun has set and not a moment before. Christmas commences with the car being put in the garage, locked away for the duration if possible, and the curtains closed except for the bay window that contains the Christmas Tree.
Once the sun has set, then it is time to set the tree, a family task to get the tree covered with as much sliver, colour and general "tat" as possible. We are not looking at symmetry, we are not looking at design, we are not looking at planning, we are looking at enthusiasm and abandon!!
We have gone through the stages of a star on top of the tree, there was a family Fairy that had pride of place for a number of years, but for the last couple of years I will admit that a small teddy bear in a witch's costume has sat at the top of the tree. Plenty of lights, mainly because I will buy some extra on the assumption that last year's lights will not work, but they often do...  But again - colour co-ordination is not what is required.

So why Christmas Eve and not before??   Because we have always done it that way would be a reasonable answer and quite traditional. It is a family tradition may be another ways of saying it. But mainly, it is that Christmas is a special time of year tome - and I do not like it being diluted by starting it in September. I know families who are taking their tree down on Boxing day - they are already fed up with having the tree there for so long..

For me 12 days is quite sufficient, and therefore Christmas Eve is the time to put the decorations up. In my view they should stay up for a full 12 days of Christmas and be taken down on the 13th day....
When the children were younger, excitement could happily build as we sorted the tree and got the house looking right for Christmas. An exciting evening and off to bed, to allow us to finalise the preparations for Santa to call. As they went to bed, there would be a few presents around the Christmas tree. Each child was invited to bring their presents suitably labelled and stack them under the tree. Likewise, there would be a present from Grandparents that had come through the post, and perhaps a present from Mum and Dad.
Yes, a few presents would be under the tree as they went to bed.... but the look on faces as they see what is under the tree in the morning is one of the great delights of childhood.

I always enjoy my Christmas, but Christmas starts on Christmas Eve with the tree. Christmas morning becomes special with presents being distributed by young "postmen" who have the opportunity to look through the presents and read the names, and then are responsible for  trying to distribute gifts in a fair and equal manner. One for Mummy, one for Daddy, one for Sister, one for me....  We normally insist that presents get opened one at a time, reinforcing that the pleasure of giving is equal to the pleasure of receiving. It is as much fun to watch someone open the present you have chosen for another.... Also, present giving lasts a lot longer....

After the joys of Christmas Day and perhaps some visitors and late present giving on Boxing Day, another ten days of decorations and Christmas Spirit seems sufficient to me. After that, the tree can be taken down, needles will mainly be falling off by now unless some imitation tree is at the core of the shining monstrosity in the bay window. Boxes can be filled and stowed away for another year....

Don't get me wrong... I enjoy Christmas, just don't want it to start too early .. Christmas Eve will be time enough...
Oh, and don't you dare come and sing Christmas Carols outside my house before Christmas Eve....
because it may be December - but it is not Christmas yet !!

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