Step away from the lights; back off from the ribbons; put down the hot cocoa.
Even though there is still more than a month left until the big guy in red makes his rounds, Christmas is breaking out all over. I haven't even gotten one bite of Thanksgiving Turkey, yet I am already being force-fed sugar plums and candy canes at every turn.
The local mall has been smothered in sprigs of holly. Downtown is plastered with industrial-strength garland. Bell ringers are out in force, trying to guilt me out of my hard-earned change. I can't even hear Jingle Bells - which has already started playing at every big-box retailer - without feeling compelled to reach into my pocket and dig around for a donation.
Everywhere I go, it seems like people are trying to jump-start the joy. Maybe it's because we've had such a rough year. Perhaps the theory is that by nudging up the noel, we can put the mortgage meltdowns, gargantuan gas prices, epic election and, of course, that Phillies win at the World Series, behind us that much faster. But gingerbread glee is not the panacea for end-of-the-year blues. With all we have already survived this year, surely we can make it two more weeks before breaking out the holiday guest towels.
Christmas, jubilant and momentous as it can be, does not need the entire tail end of the calendar. Rudolph's ego is big enough with out designating everything after Halloween as his. Personally, I think even the traditional four weeks are a bit much, but since the invention of advent calendars allows me to consume a festively molded candy guilt free for 25 days in a row, I'll swallow my chocolate-covered pride and keep quiet.
Giving Christmas too much leeway just sets a bad precedent for the other holidays. They can't all get a two-month introductions. We don't want to be singing Auld Lang Syne while trimming the tree, or snipping hearts during Dick Clark and the ball drop. We don't want colored eggs in our Valentine cards or, fireworks at Easter dinner. It would be celebratory chaos. We must preserve Santa's status quo and keep the "Holiday Season" within its pre-designated December boundaries.
We must fight the urge to deck the halls. We must hold off on the boughs of holly. Yes, I know they are pretty, but if you string the suckers now they are gonna mold and fall dead before you get halfway through that carton of spiked Eggnog stashed in the back of your fridge. It's OK to not be the first one in your neighborhood to put up lights. Put it off. Procrastinate. Beside, if you wait until it gets really cold you can just drive the bulbs directly into the ice, no hooks required.
Above all, however, we must not get hoodwinked by the sappy, touching, Norman Rockwell-esque advertisements that have been running nonstop since November. If you let them get you, you're done for. You will be out caroling at 3 a.m. and passing out cocoa to your bewildered coworkers in felt antlers and a light-up sweatshirt.
You must resist the urge to well up when you see that diamond commercial with the guy and the snow and the angst-ridden indie rocker playing in the background. Don't let the adorable eyes on those computer generated soda-pop polar bears suck you in. Your precious tears are like hard currency to retailers. Don't spend them so haphazardly or before you know it, the holidays will have passed you by and you will be sitting along, all poor and dehydrated.
I am no scrooge. I love the holidays and everything that goes with them. I am counting the days until I can snuggle up in front of a fire, watch "A Christmas Story," and lament the fact that I never got a Red Rider BB gun of my own.
But the point is, I am counting the days. I am willing to wait. I don't want to rush into the holidays so quickly that I forget to enjoy them.