Friday, November 09, 2012

Holidays are sneaking up too fast again

From today's Briefing:

If we can agree on nothing else this week, can we agree on this?

Thanksgiving is creeping up on us too fast.

My favorite holiday of the entire year is less than two weeks away. We need more time. Because as soon as Thanksgiving is over, all things Christmas take over. Then Christmas Day rushes by in a blur of ribbons and paper and then — bam! — it’s a new year.

Actually, Christmas seems to have taken over already. Stores jumped straight from Halloween candy to Christmas trees. Last weekend, Katie and I searched all over Target for some Thanksgiving decorations. There were none.

“There’s only Christmas stuff,” my 7-year-old said. “Are we too late for Thanksgiving?”

I’m not going to let retailers rush me past the one day of the year that’s devoted to counting our blessings and eating more pie than is socially acceptable. At the same time, with the Christmas season creeping in, I realize I have some decisions to make. Such as:

Will we get a new tree this year? We don’t do live — rather, cut down and dying — trees in this house. I’m severely allergic to evergreens. So, every few years we invest in an artificial tree, a Damm tradition since 1994.

In the meantime, though, the industry has revolutionized the fake tree market — and made them much more frustrating.

Pre-lit trees seem like such a great idea, until year three, when half of the strands don’t light and you spend two hours trying to locate the faulty bulb and then give up and just string extra lights on the tree. Lights, by the way, that never exactly match the other lights on the tree.

Will I send Christmas cards? The 2005 version of me wouldn’t even recognize this as a question. Of course you will send Christmas cards, woman. You live in a society, don’t you?

But the single mom version of me is less likely to follow the unwritten suburban rules that mandate a perfect photo on the highest quality cardstock with the most charming mix of fonts and cheerful words.

Here’s what will most likely happen: As soon as our tree is up and decorated, I will occasionally ask Cooper and Katie to stand in front of it. They will just happen to be wearing coordinating colors or patterns. I will take about 50 photos, hoping that all four eyes are open and looking in the same direction in just one photo.

If I’m successful in that quest, I’ll consider the rest of the Christmas card hurdles involved — not the least of which is developing a mailing list, which is a much easier task if you actually send cards annually instead of sporadically. The 2005 version of me is saying, “I told you so.”

When will our Elf on the Shelf make his first appearance?

A warning to the uninitiated: Once you become an Elf-on-the-Shelf family, there’s no going back. You can’t have an elf for three years then say, “Huh, I guess our elf decided to go elsewhere.”

We’re a committed Elf-on-the-Shelf family, so the big question is how soon he will arrive. Some families say the elf arrives when the tree does. Or on the first of December.

Our elf has always appeared the weekend after Thanksgiving. Of course, he doesn’t just arrive and settle in one spot for a month. He moves nightly, always finding a new sneaky perch for spying on behalf of Santa. That magic requires dedication and some behind-the-scenes maneuvering.

Am I ready for that magic to begin in two weeks? Not yet. But give me a little time to breathe between Election Day and Thanksgiving, plus plenty of pie, and I’ll be there with bells on.

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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