Christmas starts earlier every year.

We know that. As technology improves and competition increases, businesses have pushed Christmas up. This year, for the first time that I have seen, Christmas was pushed up before Thanksgiving. I can’t remember how many stores had Christmas items for sale, and nothing promoting Thanksgiving, but I do remember it was at least half of those I visited. Maybe it was the economy. Maybe they were just trying to beat their competition to the early sales. Maybe Christmas sells better than Thanksgiving.

I find it disappointing that as Christmas has come earlier and earlier each year, I seem to get to enjoy it less and less. The opposite should be true. I should be have more time and more opportunities to take in the smells and sights, the merry music and good cheer. But by the time I get to enjoy it, it is Christmas day and enjoyment is the last thing on my mind. I have a hundred other nagging worries and pressures and concerns that steal away the joy.

As a boy, I remember the long weeks leading up to Christmas. They took forever to pass. In elementary school we decorated the room with cotton balls and cut out snowflakes. We made Christmas cards for our parents from red and green construction paper, returning home in the evening with telltale sparkles all over our faces and hands. We sang Christmas Carols in music class and wrote letters to Santa in English class. When we got home, we baked cookies with mom and hung up ornaments on strings strung across the beams. By the time Christmas day came, I was saturated with Christmas.

These days, I feel like a dry sponge though. I hunger for that saturation I felt as a boy. The moments of Christmas cheer I get come quickly and rarely leave me satisfied. I walk through the mall and see signs of Christmas as I hurriedly grab up the few lasts gifts and hop back into my car. I hear Christmas songs as I pop into the bank and zip through the grocery store. Someone else makes the Christmas cookies and if I am lucky I get to nibble a few from the plate passed around work. I have Christmas parties that are more about the obligatory holiday party than they are about actually celebrating Christmas.

There are no more hand made Christmas cards or holiday chains made from loops of construction paper. In fact, if I experience Christmas at all before the actual day, it is in the heavily marketed world that I pass through. And for that reason, I do not mind how early Christmas starts.

I know I need to slow down. In an ideal world, I would. I would take the three weeks leading up to Christmas off. I would spend time with those I love and make sure that I did all the things I did as a boy, minus all the clinging glitter. I would walk through the mall and buy my presents with love. I would bake cookies and reminisce about winters past. I would decorate my tree and take pictures of it and wrap my presents before Christmas Eve. I would soak in the season and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. I would watch all the old classics that should be watched every year like Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life. I would even go caroling.

If only there weren’t so much else clamoring for my time and attention. Whose fault is that? My own or the world that says I have to fill my moments with busyness? Maybe I shouldn’t seek to blame something and instead solve the problem the best I can. And until I think of a good way, and can afford to take off three weeks before Christmas, I will enjoy the marketers and their faithful elves who have moved up the date of preparing Christmas.

© Seth Crossman