I know I'm not breaking any news with saying The holidays seem to start earlier and earlier every year. If you know where I can sign a petition to keep Christmas in December, let me know!
For me, the official start has always been December 1st. As a child growing up in Germany December 1st was synonymous with chocolate, the 1st of 24 pieces out of my Advents-calendar. Hooray! This was it - the countdown had begun! I learned early on that if one eats all 24 pieces at once it does not mean Santa will come by tonight, only that you'll end up in time-out and have to watch your sister for the next 23 days sucking on her piece very, very slowly every day.
Nowadays, Santa shows up right before Thanksgiving just after Halloween as soon as the Easter bunny leaves ... at least that's what it seems like anyway and I don't like it one bit. I don't know about you but it kinda puts a damper on the magic of the season.
There is one more phenomenon that I have witnessed, however, one that has far reaching consequences - Santa is multiplying at an alarming rate. Seriously! Can anyone still keep track of all the Santas they encounter during just one Holiday season?
There's Santa at (pre)school, Santa at the X-mas tree farm, Santa at the library, Santa at the Zoo, Santa at the Museum, Santa downtown, Santa in front of Walmart (I can never figure out if this one is supposed to be there or if it is some dude following his "calling") and a Santa at every Mall - actually make that 2 Santas at some, just like at Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, MD. The "Mall-Santa" has been setting up shop right by the food court but has been facing stiff competition from the "Bass Pro Santa" during the last couple years or so.
I remember only one place where we met Santa as children and that was during the annual Christmas market downtown. One place - one Santa. Seems simple enough. And pictures were free, imagine that. Of course Santa always showed up at our house December 24th (presents are opened Christmas Eve in Germany) but we always JUST missed him coming home from a walk or from sledding depending on how white Christmas was any given year. Sometimes we caught a glimpse of him just turning the corner or heard a distant "hohoho" ...
If your children are grown this may not bother you much but I tell you it means major trouble for me! My daughter is a smart cookie and it kinda dawned on her last year that something is not quite right. Thus, THE questions started: How come Santa can be in 2 places at once? Why is he hanging out at the Mall anyway? Mommy, did you notice that the Santa at the Zoo was a lot shorter/bigger/heavier/nicer/had whiter hair/whiter teeth/no glasses than the Santa at the Mall? And the question of all questions: Is Santa even real??
*gasp* Nooo! I'm not ready! She is only 5 (now 6)! I cannot allow for the magic to disappear already. I just can't. This is what Christmas is all about! Have you ever seen the eyes of a little girl light up when she sees Santa for the first time? Have you ever witnessed how Lil Miss Smartypants turns all shy when it's her turn to sit on Santa's lap?
I'm not ready to lose the magic of the season and want to keep the belief alive as long as possible. There are only two things I can do - no trips to the Mall during December (and only one carefully planned outing to see Santa) and putting on The Polar Express as soon as I sense the tiniest amount of doubt.
My days of being able to have some control over my daughter are numbered anyway, so I might as well do this one right, right? Yes, I know, good luck with that!