Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Five Fun Facts About Christmas Creep

Holiday decor lines the shelves in early October
 Christmas “Creep” – the term used to describe the perpetual “moving up” of the holiday shopping season (and the squeezing out of Halloween and Thanksgiving) - is met with disdain.  Apparently people abhor Christmas Creep. One study found over 70% of Americans “annoyed or very annoyed” by this perceived phenomenon. But peruse these five fun facts about Christmas Creep, and perhaps you’ll reconsider your thoughts on the subject. 

The Peanuts gang experiences so-called Christmas Creep back in 1974.
Christmas Creep is a Myth

 As a self-described Christmas fanatic, I assure you Christmas Creep is a myth. Some of my earliest memories involve looking for signs of Christmas, and holiday merchandise displayed alongside back-to-school supplies was not unusual. In fact, a full FORTY years ago (1974) Charles Shultz was poking fun at the idea of early Christmas sales in this scene from “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown.” Holiday sales start early, but not necessarily any earlier than they have for decades.

Halloween still ranks high at my house!
The Christmas Creep Backlash is, well…Discriminatory

I know it’s all the rage to denounce Christmas Creep – to even boycott stores - but why pick on Christmas? This so-called “mashing” of holidays (when the merchandising of one holiday or season runs into another) happens all year. BBQ grills and patio furniture appear alongside Valentine candy. Fall sweaters and warm boots make their appearance right around the 4th of July!  

Thanksgiving fans can also be Christmas fans.
Christmas Creep is not an assault on Halloween and Thanksgiving

Halloween and Thanksgiving are alive and well! Costume parties, pumpkin patch excursions, and trick-or-treating fill the month of October. Stopping for a long lazy weekend of turkey, stuffing and football is still an American tradition. We are each free to choose when and how we engage in the holiday season, but beginning one’s Christmas preparations early and fully embracing the Thanksgiving holiday are, thankfully, not mutually exclusive.

Early planning makes for a smooth holiday season.
Christmas Creep is a Good Thing

Shortly after the “Christmas already?” chatter comes gasps of “Christmas really snuck up on me!” Consider the first few glimpses of Santa a reminder to get out your planner. The countless details of shopping, decorating, baking and travel can suck the “magic” right out of the holiday season. Use these early days to plan your most important traditions.

Even a hard-core Christmas fanatic like me has to ask: “What’s with the Santa Pig?”
Christmas Creep has a Fan Club

 Scrooge-ish comments aside, Christmas Creep has a huge fan club. These are folks who live one joyful holiday season to the next…people who secretly listen to Jingle Bells in August...people who buy a house because of its “tree-worthy” foyer. Some of these people celebrate the “true meaning of Christmas.”  
I happen to be one of these Christmas Creep fans. 
I make no apologies. 
I love Christmas.

Here we go, friends. Saturday morning, while kids sleep off their trick-or-treat sugar high and parents scrape pumpkin guts off their porches, the holiday season will be upon us. Jump in, hold back, or go with the flow – whatever your style – here’s wishing you a happy holiday season.

So…how do you feel about Christmas Creep? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are You a Nester? 5 Lessons for Cozy Living

Photo by Dan Liu

I’ve got that nesting feeling. That hunker-down, fluff the house, prep-for-the-long-dark-winter feeling. And fortunately for me, I recently picked up a few nesting skills from an expert extraordinaire, and I’m happy to share them with you here.

Photo by Dan Liu

This summer a Robin built her nest on our front porch. She flew by with a twig in her mouth, and I was thrilled to see her craftsmanship right outside my window.  A well-positioned video camera gave us our own little National Geographic show.

Photo by Dan Liu
Robin had two babies. She and her “partner” took turns foraging for worms and watching over the young. She spent what seemed like hours – with nary an iPad to pass the time – sitting on their little bodies.  The babies grew fat and healthy and took flight right before our eyes. The robins left behind a clean and spotless nest. It turns out we can learn a lot about nesting from a Robin.

Nesting, to me, says clean, comfortable, cozy surroundings, devoid of excess and clutter. I think Robin agrees.

Photo by Dan Liu
Lesson 1: McMansions are Overrated
 Does extra space mean extra clutter for you? Robin’s nest was just the right size – a little roomy in the beginning, a little tight near the end – but basically perfect. I wonder sometimes if too much space is too much of a good thing.

Photo by Dan Liu
Lesson 2: Manage the Memorabilia
 Pictures, awards, trophies – they all have meaning; but they can become burdensome, too. When the baby birds hatched, Robin tossed their egg shells to the ground – notwithstanding their gorgeous blue color! Imagine the sentimentality around their first little homes! But Mama Robin knew those shells would do more good to the camellia bush below than cluttering up her nest.

Photo by Dan Liu
Lesson 3: Clean House Daily
 Lots of people “spring clean,” but I do my heaviest cleaning in the fall, preparing my home for the indoor season. Robin kept an immaculate nest. God bless her for – um, consuming – every bird dropping after every meal. Not once did she let up on this necessary chore. Can I hear an “Amen!” that we don’t have to do that?

Photo by Dan Liu 
Lesson 4: Forage Mindfully
 Is your freezer or pantry stuffed with unidentifiable or expired foods?  The Robin was efficient in her “shopping.” She foraged for only one feeding of worms at a time, though the mouthfuls got bigger and grosser as time went on. Refrigerators saved us from our hunting and gathering days, but there’s still something to be said about limiting supply to only what we use in a given amount of time.

Baby birds with their new feathers.    Photo by Dan Liu

Lesson 5: Eliminate Excess
 When I get that “nesting” feeling, I know it’s time to purge. Too much “stuff” is usually weighing me down. Apparently the same is true for the Robin, as she had a regular routine of poking around her nest and discarding little downy feathers no longer needed by her young. What kind of excess is crowding your nest?

Baby birds prepare for their first flight. Photo by Dan Liu
Fifteen days after the twin birds hatched, they took flight and never returned to their tidy little nest. We were fortunate to catch this special moment on film – including nervous mom and dad chirping wildly on the roof next door.

 Dad is now an empty nester.  Photo by Dan Liu
 Our need for order, for cleanliness, for “nesting” is obviously shared by all living creatures. Imagine the comfort and coziness of our homes if we practiced these lessons from Robin.

Any of these lessons speak to you?