Defining Traditional Christmas

Traditionally (and we’re going back to the Middle Ages here), Advent is the 40 days before Christmas. It’s a waiting period (Advent means “about to arrive”), not a decorate-the-house-till-it-can-induce-migraines period.

I know the stores started stocking for Christmas decorating in September (yes, I saw the first Christmas stuff right after Back-to-School was done), but that’s retail, not religion. They put the stuff out ahead of time so you can buy it ahead of time and already have it on hand when it’s time to decorate. Or at least that’s the theory.

Besides, what would they do with that empty Halloween candy aisle after October 31st if they couldn’t put out serious amounts of Christmas stuff? 😛

Advent ends with Christmas, and the Christmas season lasts for 12 days (remember the song!), until Epiphany, January 6th.

So, to celebrate a truly traditional Christmas, the tree goes up on Christmas Eve, along with all the other decorations, and it all goes back into storage on January 7th. Period. The UK Boxing Day holiday has never made a bit of sense to me for this very reason.

Another thing to consider when celebrating a truly Traditional Christmas is that any gift given on or before January 6th isn’t late. You can shop the “After-Christmas” sales without guilt.

Nobody has explained this schedule to my neighbors, who put up their external Christmas lights (that play music) over Thanksgiving weekend and promptly take them down the day after Christmas. These are nice people (and senior citizens), so I haven’t even considered explaining to them that they’re doing it wrong according to the Christian religious calendar.

Their schedule works for them and makes it pleasant to walk our dog in December, unless there are two competing carols going on at the same time (see migraine-inducing decorating, above).

I don’t have a tree up yet, because it’s not time. However, I probably won’t put up a full-size one. I have somewhat oversized house-cats and a large dog, which contraindicates a large Christmas tree, as well as glass ornaments and tinsel of any kind. Alas.

Of course, it’s all relative. Spooky Man is always one of the first to pipe up with the “Christmas is nothing but co-opted Saturnalia” line, because lambing happens in March-April rather than December, even in Israel. Whatever.

It’s cold outside, and it’s dark for way too many hours from mid-December through January. Let’s have a little color and light, and take a few days to show the people we love just how much we love them. Spooky Man is getting a new office chair and an Ipad (don’t tell him!), and lots of love.

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