The Rules of Christmas


It’s November 24th and many of you will begin the process of decorating for Christmas. You’ll drag the tree in from the garage and try to remember how in the world the pieces fit together. When you get it set up, you’ll grind your teeth in frustration over the section that refuses to light up. It’s as if some of the lights have gone on strike over being stuffed into a box or tree bag for the last eleven months.

Here is where I have to admit something: my house has been decorated for Christmas for the past twelve days. Yes, outraged reader, I took down my fall decorations and pulled out the Christmas trees, ornaments, and wreaths on November 11. That’s right … twelve days before Thanksgiving! I fully expect many of you will unfriend me on facebook because of this heinous crime. I have heard your arguments against pre-Thanksgiving Christmas, but, regardless of your stringent views on the matter, I’ve changed things up this year.

I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, every year we spend Thanksgiving with my family in California, usually spending the week after there as well. Trying to recover from jet lag, decorate the house, make cookies for the neighbors, send out cards, buy and wrap gifts, serve at the church outreach event, attend parties for work, school, small group, volunteers, etc., build gingerbread houses with the kids and watch Christmas movies, all in the twenty days between the touchdown of the flight back home and Christmas Eve is impossible. I’ve proven it’s impossible to get it all done every year for the past 80 years. Okay, that’s just how many years it feels like.

This year I will not be influenced by your heckling cries. Decorating before our trip will free up time for enjoying all the fun of the holidays when we get back. We will be able to focus on the true meaning of the season–peppermint mochas and all the calorie-free food we can gorge on (everyone knows that holiday food calories don’t count).

But, seriously, I’m looking forward to a Christmas season of interruptions. I want to bless a family with a bag of groceries when God brings them to mind while I’m in the canned vegetable aisle shopping for Christmas dinner. I want to chat with my neighbor, asking how I can pray for her (then taking the time to really listen to her answer) instead of rushing off to the next neighbor’s house to drop off cookies before the party we’re already late for. When my son asks to watch Home Alone again even though we’ve watched it so many times that he can quote all of Kevin’s lines, I don’t want to miss that opportunity to spend time with him in order to wrap six gifts before the UPS man comes to pick them up in 15 minutes. If a friend texts me on a whim to go shopping for the only Angel tree gift ornament left on the tree at church, I want to say yes.

So, let me warn you ahead of time, if you’re tempted to debate the value of your rigid Christmas rules about when the appropriate time for trimming the tree is, your words will fall on deaf ears. I am a lost cause. I have found the answer to de-stressing our holiday season, but here’s the good news: you and I don’t live together. If you want to wait until Christmas Eve to create your winter wonderland, more power to you. If the day after Thanksgiving is the sacred day of decorating, blast those Amy Grant and Steve Green Christmas albums and flood your house with tinsel and lights. No matter what day you decide is the right day to start the Christmas season, immerse yourself in all that this time of year has to offer. Don’t miss the interruptions for too many plans.

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