With Thanksgiving behind us, the Christmas season is now fully upon us.
But let’s be honest. The Christmas season was fully upon us after Halloween.
And no, this will not be another rant about how it all starts too early and how I simply cannot abide non-stop Christmas music (and yet another updated rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and/or “All I Want for Christmas is You”) starting the first day of November.
To each his/her own. It’s not my preference to get it all going in early fall, but if it’s yours, knock yourself out.
Here at our house, we have to pace ourselves. We had 17 folks for Thanksgiving. My wife, the chief orchestrator of it all, sliced off a chunk of her thumb with her new “mandolin” (which I thought was solely the name of a musical instrument, but is also the term for a super-sharp slicer) the day before, rendering herself 90 percent unable to perform any hands-on preparation.
Typically, she still rose to the occasion. With her thumb wrapped in a large bandage and operating at a fairly high pain level, she gave instructions to all of us so we could help her carry out getting that meal on the table on Thursday and hosting our guests.
It also helped tremendously that she had a number of dishes already prepared.
I say all that to underscore the fact that, even if we were inclined to get all the Christmas decorations out and the tree up, it’s hardly feasible.
As I come up on deadline, it’s still November, so I’m not terribly concerned. I have no doubt we will have a tree standing and a wreath on the door by Christmas Eve.
We still purchase a live tree every year. I would catch all kinds of grief if I ever decided to go the artificial route because I have made such a big deal out of the years I have fought the tree, stood it back up after it fell over (numerous times) and swept up thousands of the needles that inevitably fall to the floor. And don’t even get me started on lights, and finding that one bulb or string that doesn’t work, thus darkening most or all of the other ones, despite claims and warranties to the contrary.
I will put up a few outside lights, usually intertwined in a garland around our door, but not surprisingly, I don’t overdo it.
The previous owners of our home went all out, and the address was included in a list of “must see” Brentwood homes for Christmas lights. I am sure it was a great disappointment to many the first Christmas after we moved in and things were dialed back, and I mean dialed back in a big way. As my former next door neighbor quipped back then, “Well I was used to living next to Opryland. I guess I can get used to Motel 6.”
That stung a little, but not enough for me to ramp it up.
Even though I tire of ubiquitous Christmas music on the radio and elsewhere, and love to make jokes about it, the music at Christmas is in fact one of my favorite parts of the season. I try to make it to the Christmas concert at Brentwood Baptist or the service of lessons and carols at Brentwood United Methodist, or both if I can work them in, and if I can’t attend a live performance of Handel’s Messiah in the area, I pull out an old CD and listen to it that way.
My wife and I usually pick out a couple of the Christmas concerts at the Ryman or the Schermorhorn to attend if we can, and purchase tickets months in advance.
I also am responsible for sending our family Christmas card and writing a letter to go with it if I decide to do so.
And yes, I have some opinions on Christmas letters, but I’ll keep those to myself.
As for shopping, that’s pretty simple. I don’t shop.
While there is much to be done, in this empty nest phase of life, my spouse and I are determined to not let it overwhelm us or let the early decorating (and music!) pressure us into something we are not ready for.
So let the festivities begin – all in due time, as you may define it.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].