Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 24, 2013

When is it too early to decorate?

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Do I dare hang a red, shiny Christmas ornament this close to Thanksgiving? Or do I patiently wait for the weekend after Thanksgiving? The two camps — those who decorate early and those who wait till after the big feast — are more vocal than ever about this year’s holiday season.

Some are complaining its too early. This is nothing new. For years, we have watched retailers march out the decorations way before December. I can speak on experience that special merchandise will always arrive early to ensure it is in the store. The reality is many store managers set up the aisles to prepare for the rush of December. They know if they don’t start early, the deadline will come all too quickly. When I was a store manager, Christmas was overwhelming. Boxers of stuff would be everywhere, mingling in with Halloween candy and the regular merchandise. It took two weeks to get everything unpacked and ready for the shelf.

Even the newspaper celebrates Christmas before the month of December. Back in September, I put together an entire holiday edition for Prerogative. While others were decorating pumpkins, I was trying to come up catchy headlines about Santa and his elves. The leaves were changing colors but we had meetings about the annual Little Jimmie campaign and the magazine’s animal shelter food drive as well.

Even towns and cities in the two Virginias decorated early. I don’t blame them for taking advantage of our mild  weather to hang up street decorations. Who would want to decorate in the snow and ice with wind chills dipping into the teens? Last year’s surprise snowstorm around Halloween is a good reminder why sometimes it pays to take advantage of good weather. I have seen lots of folks wrap their trees in lights, wearing T-shirts, soaking up the last of the warmth.

Thanksgiving falls late in 2013. Celebrated every fourth Thursday, it can fall anywhere between Nov. 22 and Nov. 28. On Dec. 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday.  He reasoned that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost. But this year, it gives shoppers less time to prepare for Christmas.

No one is right in the debate on when to decorate for the holidays. It all depends on the family, the business and the individual. We all live complicated lives and have different schedules. Why should we all follow the same decorating cycle? We don’t copy each other’s preference for restaurants, sports teams or even favorite colors. Maybe your favorite holiday is Christmas. But the neighbors love Thanksgiving because its easier for family members to travel in late November than at Christmas. Then there are some people who prefer Easter over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The appropriate time to decorate is when you catch the holiday spirit. Don’t wait on someone else to deliver your joy. If it comes early, take advantage of the childlike-happiness and decorate with zeal. I have no idea when my parents decorated our house for Christmas when my brother and I still believed in Santa. I certainly don’t remember the calendar. All I recall is untangling lights, hanging my favorite ornaments and drinking hot chocolate. I remember the memories. I am thankful for those moments, always.

So to those who are already sitting by the tree, enjoy the view. Be thankful for joy.  To those waiting for the weekend, drink some extra chocolate for me. For those who are unsure about their holiday plans, I hope the spirit of Christmas arrives soon with blessings. And remember, there are no rules for the arrival of holiday spirit as long as one welcomes it with open arms.

Jamie Parsell-Null is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline or on Twitter@BDTParsell.