I was driving home from work after dark tonight when I spotted a beautifully lit Christmas tree framed by my neighbor’s bay window—my first Christmas tree of the holiday season.
Call me Scrooge, call me Ishmael, but Christmas trees and mid-November go together like Charlie Sheen and church.
I nearly stomped on the brakes and screamed, “Hey, you fucking moron, unless your fucking name is Santa fucking Claus and you’ve got a crew of merry fucking elves building toys in that fucking shithole you call a basement, stuff your fucking tree where the sun don’t shine for another couple of weeks! It’s not even fucking Thanksgiving yet! Celebrate one holiday at a time, you fucking asshole!”
I didn’t do it, though, partly because I abhor inappropriate language, but mostly because I don’t know my neighbor. For all I know, he really is Santa Claus and there really is a gang of elves working in the basement, and that thought scares me more than I like to admit.
You never want to piss off a brood of elves. Those tiny roustabouts might seem cute in cookie commercials and animated television shows like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but most of them are practically begging to prove their manhood in a fistfight because they’re short and contractually obligated to wear girly tights and pointy green elf shoes with ruby-red bells at the tips.
Hell hath no fury like an elf with scones.
Anyway, there was a time when Americans never considered putting up Christmas trees until Christmas Eve. It was a simpler time, and some people say it was a happier time, too, although I doubt it. I don’t know how anybody can be truly happy without television. You can only sit outside on your front porch whittling and playing the banjo for so many nights in row before you go stark-raving berserk and start taking potshots at your neighbor’s kitchen windows with your Winchester. Thank God for The Mentalist and The Daily Show or I’d probably be in prison by now.
Still, I think fondly of the olden days. It’s not because I remember them, I’m not that old. But I have watched The Homecoming: A Christmas Story almost every year since sometime in the late-1980s, and it’s a movie that will make you crave the minimalist pleasures of early 20th-century rural American life like Charlie Sheen craves cocaine and crack whores.
The movie’s plot is very basic.
The Great Depression forces patriarch John Walton to leave home to find work in the city, far away from his adorably cute, Mormon-sized family. When he fails to return home on Christmas Eve as promised, his hardscrabble wife faithfully struggles to maintain control of the household and her deep well of anger, which probably comes from living in the sticks surrounded by nothing but trees, farm animals, a flock of kids and her cranky in-laws. Eventually, she sends her eldest son, John-Boy, out into a blizzard to find Papa John, but not before John-Boy and Grandpa Walton cut down a fresh Christmas tree so the family can decorate it to celebrate the blessed birth of the baby Jesus.
A bunch of other important stuff happens before and after the tree-cutting-and-decorating incident, including a remarkably frank discussion about puberty and the local sheriff’s dramatic capture of a daring turkey thief. But I don’t want to talk about all that stuff because I want you to focus on the movie’s central theme, which is that people shouldn’t put up their Christmas trees too early.
Okay, okay! I admit the movie’s main theme doesn’t have anything to do with putting up your Christmas tree too early. The main theme has something to do with the importance of familial love and the true meaning of Christmas.
But between Oprah and Dr. Phil, I figure you’ve had it up to your ears with all that feel-good family togetherness crap, let alone the true meaning of Christmas. What nobody on television ever talks about enough in my opinion is Christmas trees and the putting up of Christmas trees too early.
Resist the urge.
Don’t do it.
Slow down a little. After the summer’s over, enjoy Halloween and then ease gently into Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving before rushing into the sweet celebrations of Christmas.
Because if you don’t, I just might drive by your house one night and throw a brick through your fucking picture window.