When What to My Wondering Eyes Should Appear …

LEAVES CONTINUE to fall from the trees, a week remains in November, and all of America will gorge themselves on turkey sandwiches this afternoon. Today’s retail tsunami notwithstanding, we have every reason to bask in Thanksgiving’s glow for a little while longer.

But I’m ready to turn the page. I’m ready for bells jingling, chestnuts roasting, and herald angels singing. I’m ready for Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., and the Waitresses. I’m ready for classic holiday specials old and new.

I used to delay my Christmas reveling until well into December. Chalk it up to some kind of weird purist streak–one heavily marinated in Catholic guilt–that demanded proper respect for the season and all of that nonsense.

In recent years, I’ve shifted seamlessly into Yule mode the instant my eyes open the day after Thanksgiving. And it has nothing to do with Black Friday. I enjoy giving (and, yeah, getting) gifts, but for me the joy of Christmas, and the reason I want it to start as soon as possible and last as long as possible, is that it’s the one time of year when we pay more than lip service to thinking about anyone besides ourselves.

In our increasingly disposable society, where nonstop information crushes us minute after overwhelming minute and our gadgets and devices–which, I freely admit, I love–crank us to a constant state of manic connectedness, Christmastime gives us the chance to step back.

We drop some scratch in the Salvation Army kettle and buy gifts for impoverished families we’ll never know. We reflect on the past year and think about how to make the next one better. We gather the family around the fire, we sing carols around the piano, and we leave cookies and milk on the coffee table to give Santa a much-needed pick-me-up. And none of it feels anachronistic–it feels timeless, and classic, and true.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have near enough of that in my life. I’ll happily take these last few weeks of the year to grab some more. | DL

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