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Early decorating harms Christmas spirit

Ah, Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the old song says. However, at least these days, there seems to be growing disagreement over what time of year constitutes the Christmas season.

For many Americans, the Christmas season is sensibly defined as the weeks leading up to Christmas Day, usually within the month of December.

However, for some people, Christmas is the one holiday to rule them all, and the expected festivities, like putting up Christmas decorations, can’t start soon enough. This might seem harmless, but as someone who loves Christmas, I think decorating for Christmas too early cheapens the holiday.

Christmas has been a part of America’s culture wars for quite a while now, and we can all remember at least one occasion where we got caught up in the crossfire. For Americans, Christmas is more than a holiday. It’s a matter of politics, a battleground upon which we fight for our ideas about what it means to be American in the first place.

From snooty liberals looking to scold people for saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” to rabid conservatives who seem to think that mandatory nativity sets are somewhere in the Constitution, everyone has a proverbial dog in the Christmas fight, and no one is willing to compromise.

Anyone doubting this fact need look no further than Fox News, where one can watch political pundits argue about Christmas with the kind of fierceness that makes the war in Syria look like an episode of “Mister Rogers” by comparison.

Central to our country’s annual Christmas conflict is the question of decorating, or, more specifically, when it is appropriate to begin decorating for Christmas.

Americans are hotly divided on this issue, and UW Oshkosh students have equally passionate opinions.

Sophomore Daria Chirhart is one example of a student who thinks that some people begin decorating for Christmas too early.

“The second week of October,” Chirhart stated firmly, when asked about the earliest time of year she saw Christmas decorations.

Though October might seem way too early to be decorating for Christmas, the practice appears to be alive and well in the United States. Common as the practice may be, however, Chirhart said she thinks that such decorating could be undermining the celebration of Halloween.

“They’re shameful human beings who don’t know how to eat candy,” Chirhart added humorously, commenting on the motives of October Christmas decorators.

But early Christmas decorating isn’t necessarily limited to the months leading up to December. For some people, Christmas decorations are a year-round affair.

Senior Collin Killoren said his family keeps their Christmas lights up all year long, even though they don’t start using them until the Christmas season.

“I know that we still have our Christmas lights up around our porch because it’s just too much work to take them down and put them back up,” Killoren said. “So they’ve literally been on our porch for over a year.”

Between people decorating for Christmas in October and leaving their lights up all year long, it would seem that early Christmas decorating is quickly reaching epidemic levels in this country. Strangely enough, however, some students don’t think this is a problem at all.

Freshman Megan Olson thinks people should respect each other’s choices when it comes to Christmas decorating.

“It’s each individual person’s holiday as well as the holiday as a whole,” Olson explained. “Don’t try to stomp on other people’s fun if they want to decorate early. It has nothing to do with you. And there’s nothing wrong with driving down the street and seeing pretty lights on people’s houses. I don’t know why people get so mad about it.”

At first, this perspective seems reasonable enough. After all, can’t we all just get along and accept the different ways we choose to celebrate Christmas?

Well, no, unfortunately. At least not while I have anything to say about it. Though some misguided Christmas enthusiasts are bound to accuse me of having a heart two sizes too small, I think we have to cut through the politically correct nonsense surrounding this issue and face the facts.

Ultimately, we have to come back to what it means for a day to be considered a holiday in the first place. Inherent in the very concept of a holiday is the notion that the day itself is special.

In order for a day to be truly special, it cannot be like any other day, which is precisely why decorating for Christmas too early is such a bad idea. It takes Christmas, a day that should stand alone as a time of unique significance and makes it just one more day of the week, one that can be experienced at any time of year.

And if we’re being honest with ourselves, I don’t think anyone, even the most rabid decorators, want that to happen to Christmas.

Whether you believe Christmas to be the day Jesus was born, or simply a day to eat a ton of candy, Christmas should be a special day and special time of year for all Americans.

No one has to give up Christmas. But those who wish to celebrate Christmas with decorations should wait until December, when the holiday is fast approaching and their beautiful decorations will carry the meaning associated with the most wonderful time of the year.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Early decorating harms Christmas spirit