Lee's Summit Journal

Oh, how holiday celebrations intersect in amazing ways

The combined holidays are upon us, ready or not.
The combined holidays are upon us, ready or not. File illustration

It’s coming. It’s no longer an abstract thought on a calendar page far, far away — it’s very real and very close. Get ready, people. The holidays are here.

Confession: I’ve never been exactly sure which holidays become “The Holidays.” I realize, traditionally, it’s the Big-Party Trifecta: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but from a purely calendarific (yes, I made that up) point of view I see two more: Halloween and New Year’s Day. Four consecutive months, five holidays. I’m willing to compromise on this and bundle New Year’s Day with the Eve due to a 24-hours In A Holiday rule.

But I’m holding tight to Halloween.

Think about it: You know people who like to mash Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s into one long mega-holiday. With well-planned decoration changes, they swap ghosts out for turkeys in their autumnal gourd and fall foliage collections, then move on to a full-on Christmas décor spectacular while the rest of us are still burping green bean casserole.

These holiday extremists put their Christmas lights up when they take their Halloween ones down. They put the book, “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” into action: “If I put the lights up, I’m going to want to put up the tree.” Up goes the tree…then the other tree…and, after that, the other other Christmas tree all done before the smashed pumpkin bits have disappeared from the street.

These Pinterwizards aren’t done celebrating when they toss wrapping paper into the recycling bin. Oh no, no. On Dec. 26 they’ll add a few sparkly 2019 tchotchkes to the mantle and the front door wreath, make centerpieces from noise makers, and everyone gets a festive, glittered headpiece. Only when they hang the final piece of tradition, a blank wall calendar, do these folks collapse, exhausted but content.

You know these people…you may be one of these people. Let me ask: as you were digging through the kids’ Halloween candy were you humming the 12 days of Christmas? No? How about “Mary, Did You Know?” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer?” I know…”I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” (I do, sincerely, apologize for any ear worms I just created.)

I admire these people a great deal. They seize the chance for happiness at every opportunity; they unapologetically barrel full-steam ahead into merriment and they do everything in their power to create loving, misty, thrill-of-first-snowesque memories.

I’m just not one of these people.

Imagine a Venn diagram of holiday style. There’s a ring for these extreme celebrators and a ring for the ones who leave their holiday light display up all year (but off, no one can see it then, right?) Add another ring to that diagram of people who buck trends (Festivus people, I’m looking at you.) Let’s add one more ring of people who solemnly celebrate something with faith and family.

I’m hanging out at the intersection of all of these.

I like to focus on one holiday at a time, go décor light, and essentially hang on by my fingertips until I’m flung dazed and confused into the new year. I love the idea of a porch railing full of carved pumpkins glowing as kids Trick or Treat; I love the idea of a filled-to-overflowing house on Thanksgiving; I love the idea of an activity and decoration filled Christmas, and a champagne-flowing party for New Year’s. I love the idea of it all — it’s the follow-through that I’m not so great at. All intention, little action.

I suspect that I’m not alone. I also suspect that each year, maybe each holiday, we could all fall into a different diagram ring of celebration.

I also know that the holidays are here, now, so we all better pick a method and celebrate.

Susan Vollenweider is a Kansas City based writer and podcaster. To listen to the history-based podcasts that she co-hosts or to read more of her work visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.