In late November I started seeing Christmas decorations. I don’t mean in the stores–where they spring up immediately after Hallowe’en–but in people’s houses. Growing up, my family’s rule was that the tree couldn’t go up until my dad’s birthday in mid-December, and I’m surprised by how quaint that sounds today. Now that artificial trees are commonplace and fire-safe, some people put up their tree weeks before Christmas. But I was shocked last week to see someone tweet about getting all her Christmas decorations put away. Before New Year’s!
This isn’t an observation about the commercialization or ubiquity of Christmas. That’s someone else’s battle to fight. This isn’t really about Christmas at all. Instead, I’m mulling over the difference between the people who embrace the lead-up to a celebration, and those who prefer the follow-up. Let’s assume there’s some perfect length of time to celebrate a special event. Call it a fortnight. Would you party in advance, peak on the day itself, and pack things up the next morning? Or would you get things started with a bang on the big day, and then linger over leftover shortbread for a couple of weeks?
Sports fans like tailgate parties before a big game–lead-up–but we only hold parades after victories–follow-up.
There’s plenty of partying before a wedding–lead-up–but the newlyweds are looking forward to the honeymoon–follow-up.
It’s popular to claim that children look forward to Christmas. I’m skeptical. Do kids truly enjoy the suspense leading up to Christmas, or is it more that adults enjoy watching kids in suspense?
I remember how my grandmother liked to know months in advance if I was going to visit, so she could look forward to the occasion. Not just at Christmas but any time. She was all about the anticipation. I barely celebrate Christmas at all but it’s January 2nd and my tree is still sparkling. I like to savour things, drawing out the experience a bit.
Anticipate, or savour?
Enough with flirtation. I like the afterglow better.