While Halloween may be my favourite holiday, Christmas comes in a very close second.
And, just like Halloween, I try to soak up as much of the holiday spirit as possible. For Halloween that means scary movies and decorations start to go up at the beginning of September. For Christmas it means decorations start to go up in early November, usually before Remembrance Day.
Is this because I have no respect for the soldiers who have fought and lost their lives? Absolutely not!
I put up my decorations early for a few of reasons.
The first reason is simply to have any outdoor decorations up before it gets too cold and snowy.
The second reason is the lights and sparkles, the music and terrible cheesy holiday movies make me happy – and this year I think we all need that little bit of happiness.
The third reason is because my granddad loved Christmas and would decorate as early as Gran would allow, which was usually the first week of November.
If it wasn’t for his kids’ love of Halloween, he probably would have started decorating for Christmas in early October.
My granddad, who is actually my great grandfather but he disliked that term because it made him seem old, served in the WWI as part of the British Army. He lied about his age to enlist and his squadron was one of the first to be doused with mustard gas. I remember he always spoke with a heavy rasp.
He was a quiet man, who loved his family and preferred to be outside rather than cooped up, even when the weather turned sour.
But there is a point in the year, usually as the leaves began to turn and fall, that he would get a little spring in his step. He would begin talking about his plans for Christmas, where he would put the tree, he needed to buy new lights, the reindeer for the lawn needs a friend.
He would see images of people from the United States who decorate so much, with so many lights, people come from miles around. He always said that was what he wanted to do, make a display so bright and amazing it was bring people from all around.
Gran would sigh as he made his plans, as he somehow persuaded her to let him start just a little earlier each year. My dad always said it looked like Christmas threw up all over their house, but our house was never too much better, if he was being honest.
While Granddad was always quiet, he was never serious. I knew from a young age that he served in the war, but it didn’t register to me what that meant until one day in early November I was helping him set up his display on the front lawn.
I was maybe seven at the time and I was holding a string of lights as he and my dad worked to set them up. A new neighbour came over to tell him he had to take everything down, because he was being disrespectful to veterans.
He stopped and stood up and looked at the neighbour and said, “How am I disrespecting myself? I served and fought for the freedom of my country. I am free to put up these lights, just as you are free not to.”
“Lights are not disrespectful, nor are they respectful. They are just lights that make me and my family happy.”
It is the only time I remember Granddad ever being serious.
He died a couple years later.
Now, about 20 years after his death, I put up my holiday decorations early, but not so early that it takes away from Halloween.
In doing so I am doing something that not only gives me joy, but honours and remembers my great grandfather who loved the holiday so very much.