As Halloween comes to a close and the weather gets colder, the debate over when it’s appropriate to start decorating for the holidays gets more heated.
Poinsettias and the rosy-cheeked face of St. Nick can be found filling the aisles of local stores as early as September and “Christmas in July” is an actual event on the Hallmark Channel. It begs the question. Is it ever too early to get into the holiday spirit?
Perhaps it depends on individual family traditions. Maybe the holidays can just be an excuse to spread a little bit of joy.
Whatever the case, the holiday season is coming, and some are more excited than others.
Christmas should start mid-November
By: Arden Koenecke
Twinkle lights, festive music, Starbucks Christmas cups, gift exchanges, ugly sweaters and Hallmark movies: I love the Christmas season.
There’s a sense of magic in the air that makes everyone feel cozy and festive as the holidays approach. For me, I want to relish in that feeling as much as possible, which is why I’m an advocate for Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.
I’m not a staunch believer in Christmas decorations on Nov. 1. There’s a necessary transitional period between Halloween and Christmas decorations that involves toning down the fall vibes from witches and ghosts to pumpkins and leaves just for a bit before we jump into mistletoe and holly. My perfect date for Christmas decorations is Nov. 15: not so early that we skip over the waning days of fall, but not so short that we cut our Christmas cheer to just one month.
Don’t get me wrong. I love fall too, with its crunchy leaves, sweater weather, apple cider and college football. We get fall, however, for three months: September, October and November. There’s plenty of time to enjoy everything fall has to offer us.
However, if we limit Christmas decorations, and therefore Christmas spirit, to after Thanksgiving, we only get one month of holiday cheer. One month is not enough time to see all of the best light displays in the town. Out of an abundance of caution in making sure we get to listen to “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses while driving around looking at lights enough times, it’s best to decorate a bit early.
Christmas also brings a great deal of nostalgia that’s worthy of celebration.
Growing up, my family and I would always attend church on Christmas Eve, sometimes multiple times because my mom is an organist at our church. We’d go home after church and feast on prime rib and sparkling cider before opening most of our presents on Christmas Eve.
After running downstairs to open our presents from Santa the next morning, we’d embark on the three-hour road trip to Watertown, South Dakota. With all 50 plus members of our family, we’d share belly laughs over family lore, exchange gifts of anything from new winter hats to barrels of cheeseballs and eat way too many Christmas cookies.
These fond memories bring a sense of joy that’s unparalleled by any other holiday, which is again why Christmas is worthy of early celebration.
Last, Christmas makes winter bearable. It stinks when the weather gets cold and the snow starts to pile up. Despite the magic of the first snowfall of the season, it’s always a little disappointing when it gets cold again. Christmas helps remedy this by bringing a spark of happiness through decorations and cheer.
Instead of being annoyed at having to pull out the winter boots and trek across campus in sub-zero temperatures, we can be happy knowing that when we get home, we can turn on the Christmas lights and watch movies with hot chocolate next to our Christmas trees. In South Dakota, when the first snowfall comes earlier than we’d like, it’s best to be prepared and make sure the Christmas decorations are up in mid-November.
While some are prepared for Thanksgiving with their pumpkin spice lattes and turkey decor, I’ll be over here sipping my peppermint mocha and listening to Michael Bublé — yes, on Nov. 15.
There should be time for autumn decorations
By: Olivia Bertino
The most magical days of my childhood were the afternoons when I’d walk in the door after school to a home that was freshly decorated for the season.
I was lucky enough to have a stay at home mom. One of her favorite pastimes has always been home decorating and cleaning, so bleach and holiday spice were the smells of my youth.
Immediately after October’s end, my mom would spend her afternoon while I was at school hauling decoration tubs up from the basement and replacing the Halloween items with Thanksgiving decorations. She’d clean every surface in the process, which made for a fresh canvas for the new season.
Walking back into the house around 3:30 was like coming home to a new place. All of the familiar spooky faces had disappeared, not to be touched for another 11 months.
There were the new nostalgic pieces that always came out instead, like the two harvest themed Jim Shore scarecrows. For my fellow suburban kids, white moms were obsessed with Jim Shore decor in the early 2000s.
The living room was always bright with freshly washed curtains blowing away from the open windows. The air running through the house was thin and crisp, and it was the only day that all of the candles were lit to help dissipate the cleaning chemicals. Hence the bleach and holiday spice smell.
The house had a new aura — a feng shui by similar means. The aura changed per the season, and I’ve got a certain nostalgia for the warm relaxation of Thanksgiving decor. The feeling manifested in my chest and pulled tight around my heart. Welcoming that decorative change meant acorn squash dinners and fresh sherpa blankets. It meant my dad started taking more days off work so he could cook his childhood holiday meals. It meant my mom was baking more and more and our backyard pear trees would soon lose the last of their leaves.
None of the warm-and-fuzzies I feel can negate the background of why white people feel the need to celebrate the last Thursday of November, though. Thanksgiving itself is a racist holiday. Even my sweet, decoration-crazed mother was unaware of the true roots of Thanksgiving. She relied on her elementary school teachings that the pilgrims came to the U.S. to find a better life and worked with the Indigenous people to learn how to live in a new land.
Granted, it’s not smart to teach a seven year old about genocidic bloodshed, but our education system never goes back to the first colonizers and the war that was fought because of European exploitation of Indigenous peoples. Popular home decor stores like Hobby Lobby still sell racist representations of Indigenous peoples right alongside the falsely angelic white colonizers.
This seems like a great reason to skip the holiday altogether and go straight through to decorating for winter. Besides, for those that go all out on decorations (like Mama Bertino), it gives the decorator an extra few weeks to enjoy their hard work. And when decorating in the Midwest, it also means putting up exterior decorations before a foot of snow has covered the ground and frozen fall-themed lawn ornaments into the dirt.
Still, I can’t ignore the rest of the season. I just won’t give up that tingly feeling. Immediately on Nov. 1 of this year, I continued the tradition that my mother began and swapped out the Halloween decorations for fall. I’ll be replacing each of those the day after Thanksgiving for the Santas and snowflakes, giving a month to all three end-of-year holidays.
Granted, my decorations make no reference to Thanksgiving itself. My house is merely an ode to the autumn season, which technically won’t come to an end until just before Christmas. I don’t want my decorations to serve as a reminder of colonizers’ past, but instead as a reminder to my childhood, where I could walk in the door to a cozy home presented lovingly by my mother.
Someday, the Jim Shore scarecrows will come into my possession, and I’ll set them out with my own fall decor, and my kids can laugh at the amount of time I spend fussing over the perfect placement of those statues just like their grandmother did.
But that’s a piece of my childhood given to me by my mother (and yes, Clorox bleach). I’ll have the honor of passing that nostalgia on to my future kids, and hopefully they’ll do the same.