Joy to the world

Over the last week, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they want to put up their Christmas decorations early this year, probably right after Halloween.

I’ve seen a lot of folks on social media express the same sentiment, even saying that, while they would normally provide a tsk-tsk to people doing so, this year, everyone gets a pass.

And I couldn’t agree more. I try to live my life not getting upset about what other people do if it doesn’t affect me or hurt other people. And putting up a bunch of lights surely doesn’t check either of those boxes.

That said, I am normally a Christmas decorating stickler. For me during normal times, no lights or trees or Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. But this year, I may, too, break my personal guidelines and light the house up Griswold-style sooner rather than later.

I’m not exactly being a philosopher when I say that 2020 has been kind of a bummer year. And I also know the joy that Christmas decorations bring so many people. So, folks, if there is joy to be found out there, by all means get that joy up sooner rather than later.

My Christmas decorating tradition usually starts on the weekend after Thanksgiving. I bring out all of the boxes with our outside lights, and I pop open the lid to find my usual nice surprise: My note from last year’s Mike reminding this year’s Mike which lights go where. I am always appreciative of past me.

My kids usually enjoy decorating with me, although I will say that if I ever decorated without my daughter, it would be one of the more hurtful things I could do. My son is usually like, “Yeah, if I’m around, cool, but if not, it’s fine.” But the toughest thing about my daughter’s first year at college? Her worry that I would light up the night without her. Don’t worry, kid. I gotcha.

My wife also loves to decorate the inside of our house. We always do a live tree, but we have now added an artificial tree as well. My wife loves the tree because it is one of those all white ones, and she can hang a bunch of our nicer ornaments on it and make it her little art project. Which brings her joy. And thus makes me happy.

Our live tree will be adorned with lots of homemade ornaments, going all the way back to when my wife and I were kids. It also has at least one ornament from every vacation we’ve taken, so it’s always a fun trip down memory lane when they go on the tree.

And it will also be time for the birds. I am not sure how it started, but my wife has begun to amass a collection of these adorable birds that are about six inches tall. They are plump little rascals, and are all decorated with different seasonal flair. Currently, the birds that line our stairs have very fall-themed looks. But she has a host of Christmas-themed birds she can’t wait to put out. As she said just this morning, “I usually only get to see my Christmas birds for four weeks. This year, I want to see them for eight.” Joy. And I agree.

We also have a plastic Gingerbread house that the kids have decorated for years. If you are not familiar with it, it’s awesome. It’s a plastic frame that can be washed. You coat it with icing, and then decorate it with various candies and treats and such. You don’t just have to do it for Christmas. Name your holiday and decorate accordingly. Even though my kids are now 17 and 20, it’s still something fun to do that, again, brings joy.

So if you are feeling festive, get the decorations out. 2020 is probably still not done doling out unpleasant surprises, so every little bit of joy can help. Be well, readers, and find – and share – joy.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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