I am 100 percent on board with celebrating Thanksgiving all month long. Thanksgiving is an all American holiday that involves no gifts, little decorations and less fuss all around than Christmas. Just family, food and a time of thanksgiving! I love the idea of an entire month that reminds us to be grateful. Despite difficulties and disappointments, most of us have far more blessings than we deserve and Thanksgiving gives us a chance to reflect on what we have, instead of what we want.
However, that being said, I also crank up my Christmas music as soon as possible...without shame. They nay-sayers can judge away and can choose to abstain until Dec. 1, but I will continue to hum along to my favorite holiday music weeks in advance.
Reasons why I listen to Christmas Music in November:
(1) It makes me happy (with no consequences to anyone else). That's really my #1 reason. Generally, choosing to do what makes you happy is not always the best course of action to take. That's how affairs, divorces, broken friendships, hurt family relationships occur-- because we do what makes us happy and forget the consequences to others....but, turning on some Christmas carols while I clean my house or ride the metro doesn't hurt anyone. It's one of those decisions I can make simply based on what I want to do, and so I do it. The only consequences is that it might annoy a friend, spouse or family member -- in which case, I will change the Pandora station or stick my earphones in!
(2) It gets me in the Holiday spirit. I know, I know, I can hear you saying, but what about Thanksgiving? I am including Thanksgiving in my "Holiday season" -- because whether or not we like it, the Holiday season is Nov. 1 - Jan. 1. That 2 month period will be full of gatherings, happy memories, traditions, stress, family, friends and food. In fact, I usually take a sigh mid-October because I know that starting with Halloween events, life won't be slowing down until January. I have happy holiday memories, so mostly this season is joyful for me (although I know it's not that way for everyone), but even for the lucky ones with happy memories and traditions, the Holidays can be full of stress and busyness. Listening to carols while cooking, shopping, cleaning or wrapping gifts helps me remember the reasons for the Holidays and get into a more joyful Holiday spirit. I can't help but focus on memories of Holiday seasons past as I listen to Christmas Tunes: Thanksgiving meals with my family, watching the Macys parade with my sister, decorating the tree, Christmas eve communion, opening gifts Christmas morning, the perfect NYE kiss, etc. Holiday music re-energizes me and reminds me to focus on the many good things about this season, not just the stressful parts!
(3) There is no Thanksgiving music. Sure, there are a few hymns about thankfulness that we sing in November, but it's not an entire musical genre. If there was a "Thanksgiving" genre, I would probably be listening to that right now, not the "Dave Barnes Christmas" station on Pandora.
(4) Many Christmas songs are Gospel based. Seriously, a large part of the music we listen to at Christmas are really hymns about Christ's birth, an essential apart of the Gospel story. I don't know about you, but I benefit from hearing the Gospel in some form every day....which is why the older I get, the more I find myself listening to Christian music on the radio. Christmas music is another way to hear the Gospel daily.
(5) Christmas music provides Hope. Along the lines of Christmas music being Gospel based, carols and hymns provide Hope to the hurting, stressed out, sick, disappointed Advent provides us the comfort that Christ came and lived in this same broken world we do and can relate to our heartache. He then died, rose, conquered death and will come back for us. The lyrics to many Christmas hymns and carols provide Hope, not just in December, but in November and year round. The Lord came. The Lord understands. The Lord saves. (My current favorite Lyric: A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!)
(6) Christmas is more important than Thanksgiving. There, I said it. Christmas is a time where we celebrate our Savior's birth. It's a religious Holiday (although I know it is also very secular) Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder to be grateful and count our many blessings, but it is not a church Holiday. It's American made. So I am okay if Christmas music encroaches on Thanksgiving a bit.
(7) It reminds me of home. Dave and I get pretty itchy to go home this time of the year (last year we counted down and I caught him singing "I'll be home for Christmas" in the shower)....but going home for Thanksgiving is not really an option. (Although we get two long weeks at Christmas!!) Throughout the holidays, growing up, my Dad played Christmas music. It was constantly on at home and in the car. Playing music while we go about our daily business reminds me that we will be going "home" for part of this season. Having music playing while we meal plan for Thanksgiving, wrap gifts, run errands and decorate help make our little home more "homey" as well.
(small side note in full disclosure: Last year we did decorate early for Christmas because it's so much work to pull all the decorations out of storage and we were leaving for Mississippi around the 20th, so I wanted the tree and other decorations to be up for a month to justify the effort. Also we were hosting Thanksgiving at our house and our apartment was still not fully decorated but hanging a wreath and putting up the tree definitely livened things up for guests. This year, I have not decided....if it goes up early, it won't be until a day or two before Thanksgiving. I love our fall decor and want to keep it up as long as possible...)