On the crisp autumn November eve that directly followed Halloween, I bundled up and went for a stroll to marvel at the piles of colourful leaves on the ground.
I laughed and admittedly rolled my eyes as I instead found twinkling red and green lights wound around an apartment railing.
A few steps more and I found myself being waved to by a very friendly mechanical snowman.
I checked my phone and confirmed that November had only just begun, but gasped as I caught a glimpse of some neighbours through their living room window, hanging ornaments all around a tree.
Every walk since that day, I have encountered more and more holiday decor.
Perhaps a few years ago, my eyes would glow red and steam would billow from my ears.
I would shake my fist and scream “how dare they,” on just about every other year.
But not this year.
As Christmas makes itself all the more present in our community, my smile widens with glee.
“Let’s light up the town,” I say instead.
2020, it would seem, has brought on a Grinch-like change of heart.
I was never alone in cursing the early decorators; it’s a hobby that annually unites the crankier folks on the block.
“It’s disrespectful to veterans to do it before Nov. 11,” they’ll say in protest.
“It wasn’t this early or this commercial when I was a kid,” others will add.
But I’ve come to realize that, unless you are putting mistletoe on the cenotaph and interrupting the ceremony by wearing an ugly sweater that lights up and chimes Deck the Halls, what’s the harm?
Can’t someone still reflect and pay tribute while enjoying the freedoms they were given?
You don’t need me to tell you that it has been a tough year and we all know the holidays are going to be emptier, dare I say lonelier, than usual.
I think having that in the back of my mind silenced my growling and helped me embrace the instant influx of TV advertisements and front-lawn reindeer like Scrooge on Christmas morning.
But it dawned on me that any type of approval or opinion on what time someone chooses to light up their house with holiday cheer does not matter in the least.
If a co-worker wants to hum carols all-year-round or Costco wants to add a yuletide section before back to school begins – that’s their prerogative; there’s no criticism required.
I know the season can be a hard time for many – even divisive for some seeing as how there are many faiths and beliefs in our region.
Losing my family at the end of the year made me detest the season for a very long time.
But with each year that passes, I find myself understanding what this time of year means to me.
It’s not about presents or turkeys or gathering with others to battle it out over the results of the U.S. election over a few glasses of egg nog; it’s about love.
Love, cheer, reflection, and goodwill towards others.
If a few flashy lights and candy canes stuck outside someone’s front steps can elicit such positive feelings in even just one person, I say the earlier we decorate, the better.
So please, this year of all years, let people go wild and take distracting glee in their celebrations.
Christmas light tours inside your own car may just be the only socially-distant-safe activity of the season.
Or hey, remember when we banged pots and pans together for front line workers?
How about we make this planet twinkle and shine for them too?
Is there more to this story?