4:07 PM EST, November 30, 2012
No one has ever accused me of being early for anything.
Sometimes I can trick myself by pretending my deadline is earlier than it actually is. But usually, I can see through the "Kate-time" ruse and find myself scrambling.
Take Christmas, for example. No. Don't "take" it. I want to keep it — peaceful, unfrenzied — a time for family and friends to be together and appreciate and enjoy each other.
I've never ventured out to shop on Black Friday. It saddens me that some stores opened for business on Thanksgiving this year. Although I understand that consumer spending is good for the economy, "Christmas creep" — the monkier for starting the holiday shopping season earlier every year — creeps me out.
I am not a total Scrooge or Grinch. As a child and later as the mother of young kids, I loved the excitement and magic of Santa.
When I was a kid, we'd go out to find a tree the weekend before Christmas. There were no cut-your-own farms near my Jersey shore hometown, but we had fun finding the just-right tree in a used car lot. My younger twin sisters and I were impatient while Dad carefully secured the tree in the trunk of the car, eager to get it home and bring it in the house. With Andy Williams crooning carols on the hi-fi, we'd hang the ornaments, delighted at seeing our favorites again each year.
I'm sure there were New Jersey families who started their Christmases earlier than mine did, but I never noticed. When I came to Maryland in the early 1970s, I was surprised to see houses lit up with fully decorated Christmas trees standing at front windows on Thanksgiving weekend.
I never managed to follow that local custom. Embarrassingly, one year I didn't get the tree up until the day after Christmas. It was before kids, and with the heat out on the first floor of our farmhouse, it was just too darned cold. Now my kids are grown and back home for just a few days of the winter holidays. For the past few years, I've been satisfied with the little Charlie-Brownish tree my neighbors surprised me with.
Last year was different. My daughter, Maggie, and her New York roommate/musical theater collaborator, or as I like to call her, my Greek "daughter," Erato, were in town for Thanksgiving. They told me they'd head out early Saturday morning to a Shepherdstown, W.Va., coffee shop and were gone before I got up.
Not fully awake as I rolled to the kitchen for my coffee, I passed the new Christmas tree they'd sneaked in. It was lighted and outfitted with ornaments we've collected through the years. Santas, snowmen and the Nutcracker stood watch atop the bookshelves. I swear I heard strains of "We Need a Little Christmas" from "Mame."
The girls were back this year. Antonis, a new friend from Greece, joined us and brought me a sweet, hand-knitted owl to hang on the tree. Again, I have a little Christmas. It's early and I love it.
It's a wonderful life.
Kate Coleman covers The Maryland Symphony and writes a monthly column for The Herald-Mail.
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