There are many things I miss about Germany and the lifestyle I had while living there. Quiet Sundays (stores are closed in Germany and loud noises such as lawn mowing are not allowed) is high on my list. Being able to go on the subway alone at two am surely falls in there somewhere. At this time of year, my homesickness centers primarily around German Christmas Markets.
Beginning the first Sunday in Advent, every town large or small has it's own Christmas market. This is true of the largest cities such as Frankfurt, and smaller villages. Although there are a few similarities, each market has it's own unique character. No market is the same, and the goal for residents (German or ex-pat) is to see a minimum eight Christmas markets in a season. Spiced wine, sugared nuts, nutcrackers and good cheer abound.
Here's the thing, though. Before that weekend, no Christmas lights, decorations or advertising can be found. Toy catalogs in the mail-never heard of. Christmas music playing in the mall? You must be kidding. Advent and Christmas are observed in the fullest sense. It's an all out celebration of chocolate, food, drink and decorations. Not only that, but the Germans celebrate two days of Christmas (day one for families, and day two for visiting, similar to boxing day). But they don't celebrate before it begins, and when it's over, it's over! As a comparison, this year when I went to buy Halloween candy, there were Christmas displays showing and Christmas music playing. Talk about overload!!
Life, for me at least, is best when you live in the moment. I like to appreciate what is going on around me at this unique time, place and season. When it's Halloween, I want to enjoy fall decorations and costumes and kids ringing my doorbell. Now that November is here, I'm enjoying the cooler weather (from a Texas perspective). I'm also looking forward to a cozy Thanksgiving dinner. We'll give thanks, enjoy a lovely family weekend, and watch lots and lots of football. Black Friday won't even enter our minds. Sometime soon after Thanksgiving, we'll start jumping headlong into Christmas. The house will be decorated by the first of December, holiday parties begin, and I'll pull out the wrapping paper.
I adore Christmas, don't get me wrong. However, I also love Easter, 4th of July picnics, Halloween and Thanksgiving dinners. As a frugal person, I allow SOME consideration of Christmas to enter my consciousness year around. By this I mean that it enters my budget, I do some advance sewing and knitting in gift preparation here and there. I also may buy a perfect gift, if I see it during my normal routine. Other than that, I wait for Christmas to enjoy and appreciate Christmas.
Maybe it's just me. From my perspective however, the cacophony of Christmas drowns out fall and it's respective holidays. Not only that, by the time many folks get to Christmas (which, by the way, begins December 25), they've experienced such overload that the ability to enjoy the day itself is often lost. Our senses can simply only take so much overload.
Rather than making me want to shop and spend more, the advertisements push me in the other direction. The earlier and nosier Christmas gets, the more I want to nest with friends and forget all the hype and return to the "meaning of Christmas". I'd also prefer to take the holidays one day at a time. As a nice Episcopalian girl all I can say is, "Let's first celebrate the American holiday, and then move on the the (often hijacked) religious holiday".
Whether any of the advertisers or anyone else hears me, at least I've gotten that off my chest. Thanks.