Amy Calder

When we were kids, my father would scoff at businesses that decorated their shops for Christmas in November and touted holiday sales before Thanksgiving.

Come early December, we’d beg Dad to go out to the woods to get our Christmas tree.

Our pleas were predicated by the fact that our neighborhood friends already had their trees up and sparkling by that time. We played on his emotions, trying to make him feel sorry for us.

“The Butlers have had their tree up since Thanksgiving!” we’d croon.

Dad would just chuckle. He loved telling that story at Christmastime for years after we had all grown up.

Dad is gone now, but I’m fairly sure he would agree with me that this year, more than ever before, it’s OK to start spreading holiday cheer early in the season.

It has been a bad year in terms of the number and kinds of horrible and bizarre events that have occurred: the son of state Sen. Creigh Deeds of Virginia stabbing his father and then killing himself, sexual assault and suicide in the military, a girl putting a kitten in a microwave, a train wreck in Canada, a woman hanging herself in downtown Waterville, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford entangled in a drug scandal and refusing to give up his post, young men killing their girlfriends, a youth in Massachusetts brutally killing a popular teacher, and on and on.

When we think the news can’t get any worse – or stranger – it does.

We need a break – a good long stretch of nothing but joyfulness. What better time for that than the holidays?

Call me a Pollyanna, but I guess that’s why I have always loved the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For a few weeks, we share a sense of hope. People are kind to one another, generous, optimistic.

Our homes are warm and welcoming, colorful and enticing, filled with the aroma of evergreens and holiday food. We revel in things that delighted us as children. Family members who live far away come back. We talk, laugh, tell stories. For a brief period, we insulate ourselves against harm.

This year, we are indulging in the magic early, it seems. I believe the reason for that is twofold.

First, Thanksgiving came late on the calendar, catapulting us into Hanukkah and Christmas, right on the heels of turkey day.

I think that, from what I’ve been witnessing lately, we humans have a built-in seasonal clock that is telling us it’s time to decorate, bake, prepare. Secondly, I believe we are yearning for peace and lightheartedness, a reprieve from all the mayhem in this increasingly frightening world.

I, inexplicably, started shopping and preparing for Christmas early this year.

For the last couple of weeks, in the evenings, I’ve been holing myself up in the sun room, wrapping gifts, making notes and writing cards.

A couple of days ago, I called my sister, Jane, to ask what she was doing.

“Putting up Christmas lights outdoors,” she said.

She never does that this early in the season.

My friend, Don, who is long retired, was listening to Christmas music when he called me on the phone the day before yesterday. Very unusual for him to be thinking about Christmas in November.

So, it’s begun.

And I say, bring it on.

Haul out the decorations. Put up the tree. Turn on the music. Ring the bells.

And pray for the one thing over which we have no control.

A nice, big white storm.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]