Thanksgiving doesn’t have feelings.

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With Ugandan Santa in November 2013.

Before living in Uganda in 2013, I was a hardcore “no Christmas ANYTHING until after Thanksgiving” type of person. I felt like doing anything Christmas before Thanksgiving was just, well, rude. Who were we to pull out our red and green before the calendar was done with orange and brown? How dare anyone disrespect Thanksgiving!

But in Uganda… there was no Thanksgiving. I even went to work on Thanksgiving because, well, it’s not a holiday in Uganda. We went to Christmas craft shows in early November. We put up our tree in November. We even started listening to “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and no one judged us! Basically, we didn’t have to worry about hurting Thanksgiving’s feelings because it didn’t exist in Uganda.

When I came back to the U.S. in 2014, I found myself wanting to experience Christmas cheer before Thanksgiving. But I felt awful. I felt terrible. NO CHRISTMAS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING! We simply cannot celebrate Jesus’ birth with trees and tinsel until after Turkey Day!

Last year was really difficult. I felt the Christmas itch in mid-November, and it was strong. There is so much crap in the world, and Christmas is all about JOY and HOPE! Couldn’t we all use a little more joy and hope? However, people around me said, “Don’t do it! It’s not even Thanksgiving!”

I ended up caving about a week before Thanksgiving. I decorated for Christmas. It felt great. It prolonged the joy I feel from Christmas decorations. It made me happy. And I would love to decorate my home for Christmas right now, in early November. I’ve had my fall decorations out since September, and I’m tired of orange and an unimaginable number of pumpkins. But the world (eh hem, Facebook) tells me that I can’t decorate for Christmas yet. It’s disrespectful to Thanksgiving!

IMG_9560Then it hit me. An incredible, unbelievable, thought occurred to me: Thanksgiving doesn’t have feelings. Thanksgiving will not have even one negative thought about me putting my tree up before its special day. This is because Thanksgiving doesn’t have thoughts. Or feelings. It’s a holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving. I love the food and fellowship. I’ll wear my turkey scarf on Thanksgiving proudly. Thanksgiving will have its day!

Another thing to think about, though, is how late Thanksgiving is this year: November 28. That leaves less than four weeks until Christmas. If you’re like me, you put A LOT of work into your Christmas decorations. To do all that work and enjoy it for less than a month is just sad, especially knowing it brings so much joy.

I will not offend Thanksgiving by decorating for Christmas. Thanksgiving doesn’t have feelings. I recently saw a post on Facebook that was going viral. It read: “How about instead of rushing from Halloween to Christmas, we use November as a month of THANKS to properly prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas for what it is really about, the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The comments were hilarious, in my opinion. So many people were saying, “Amen!” And someone even said, “So sad that you even had to say that to remind people.”

Wait… it’s sad that people “rush” into Christmas? What exactly is so sad about it? Thanksgiving doesn’t have feelings, it’s not sad if I put my tree up before it’s had its day. And I don’t know about you, but I try to be thankful year-round. I try to prepare my heart for whatever God has in store for me every single day! Decorating for Christmas has nothing to do with whether or not I’m thankful OR preparing my heart for the birth of Jesus.

I will say, most of the “haters” on social media do it in good fun. They just like razzing their friends about decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. And I used to be one of them, until I realized how much joy my Christmas decorations bring me each year. But some people are really nasty about it, and it baffles me. Especially those who act like Thanksgiving will be hurt and wounded by it.

Whether you’re a strict, “No Christmas until after Thanksgiving” type of person, or a “Bring on the Christmas cheer NOW!” type of person, you do you. And know that if you do decorate for Christmas before Turkey Day, Thanksgiving will not be offended. Thanksgiving doesn’t have feelings. So spread that Christmas cheer!

When Starbucks ruined Christmas (or so they say)

STARBUCKS COFFEE CANADA - Red Cup Pre-OrderIt was early November when the latest meeting of the “Angry Christians” club was called to order in a small American town east of the Mississippi. Everyone had come with their list of things to be angry about, and they were ready to discuss.

As the president of the “Angry Christians” club started the meeting, someone burst in.

“You won’t believe it!” the man said. “You simply won’t believe it!”

All of the Angry Christians turned to see a man holding up a red Starbucks cup.

“Christmas is ruined!” the man shouted. “Christmas is gone! America is taking Jesus out of Christmas, and that is obvious because of this red Starbucks cup!”

The Angry Christians’ blood began to boil. They tore up their lists because nothing was worse than this.

“Starbucks hates Christians,” the president said. “Starbucks hates Christians, and it hates Christmas! We have to tell Jesus!”

Meanwhile in heaven, Jesus was sipping on a Starbucks peppermint mocha when one of His angels walked in shaking his head.

“We’ve got another issue from the Angry Christians,” he said. “This time it’s over a Starbucks cup.”

The angel put some paperwork in front of Jesus, who read it, and then sat back in His golden chair. He looked at His own Starbucks cup. Then He looked at the angel.

The angel was tired of waiting for a response, so he said, “Sir, what do we do about this?”

Jesus put His cup down and stood up.

“Is Starbucks a Christian company?” Jesus asked.

“No, sir,” the angel said. “They have no religious affiliation.”

“Did they ever have my name or image on their cups, and now they have removed it?” Jesus asked next.

“No, sir, they simply took off things like trees and snowflakes. They change the design of the cup every year.”

“Christmas is when Christians celebrate my birthday, right?” Jesus said.

“Of course it is, sir,” the angel replied.

“And does a plain red Starbucks cup mean it’s no longer by birthday?”

“Not in the least!”

Jesus was perplexed. “Will any fewer people become Christians this holiday season because snowflakes and trees were removed from this year’s Starbucks holiday cup?”

“I don’t imagine so, Lord,” the angel said. “If the Christians are doing their jobs on earth, they should be the ones leading people to you.”

“Then why,” Jesus said as He picked up His peppermint mocha, “are they letting a cup get them so upset?”

“Well, they feel it just another way America is taking you and your name out of Christmas.”

Jesus looked at the angel and chuckled. “Take ME out of Christmas?”

“Lord,” the angel said, realizing that taking Christ out of Christmas was impossible, “forgive me for even approaching you with this. For I have forgotten that you ARE Christmas. Starbucks can’t remove you from Christmas. America can’t remove you from Christmas. NO ONE can remove you from Christmas because you are God and you ARE Christmas!”

Jesus smiled. “That’s right. And I always will be.”

The angel gathered up the paperwork to bring the news to the Angry Christians, but Jesus stopped him before he walked out.

“And let’s be honest,” Jesus said. “Christians love their coffee. Do you really think Starbucks would purposely try and upset Christians and lose all of that business? Of course not. And if my followers were to boycott every business that didn’t glorify me, I’m not sure they’d have many places to go. Do they research the religious beliefs of each and every place they spend money?”

“Sir, you always have the greatest points!” the angel said, as he left the room.

Jesus sat back down and again looked at the Starbucks cup on His desk.

If the holiday season is about me, how many of my followers are doing things I actually called them to do?  Jesus thought. These people who are angry over a cup, are they feeding the poor, visiting the orphans and widows, fighting for justice of the oppressed? Or are they just looking for something to be angry about….

Back on earth the angel returned to the Angry Christians meeting, but no one was there. He hoped maybe they were downtown passing out free coffee to the homeless or visiting the sick in the hospital. Instead, they had all gone home to update their Facebook pages with anti-Starbucks status updates since Starbucks had ruined Christmas.

The angel shed a tear at the actions of the Angry Christians members who were allowing anything to ruin what Christmas really means. “Christmas is still about Jesus,” he said. “It can’t ever NOT be about Jesus.”

A Penguin Riding a Peppermint…

Some people like big, perfectly decorated and color-coordinated Christmas trees. I don’t disagree, those trees are beautiful, but what I love is the type of Christmas tree that I grew up with. No rhyme or reason, no color coordination, and no “theme” other than “a bunch of random ornaments from throughout the years.”

I used to love decorating the tree with my mom and dad. We’d pull out our favorite ornaments from over the years and almost always add a new one or two to the collection. Since I left college, I’ve taken over the decorating of the tree, and I still get excited when I pull out my favorite ornaments. Most of them wouldn’t do well in the stores. Most are old, some are falling apart, and I think one is even molding. But for me, Christmas ornaments aren’t about the glitz and the glam- they are about that happy feeling I get just seeing them on the tree.

IMG_20121130_200915My Favorite
I didn’t even remember where this one came from, but my mom says it was from my babysitter who lived next door. For as long as I can remember decorating the tree, this has been my favorite ornament. I love penguins, and the fact that he’s riding a peppermint is super cute to me. This is always the first ornament I put on the tree, and it always goes towards the top.

 

IMG_20121130_200955Handmade Ornaments
They look pretty rugged, but I love the ornaments I made in preschool and IMG_20121130_201038elementary school. I don’t know what the moon is made of- it is almost like a cookie. The candy cane I painted when I was two is another favorite, and I adore the dove I painted. What makes it especially unique is the bright yellow piece of yarn it hangs from. Sure it would look classier hanging from a hook or a silver ribbon of some kind, but it’s the yellow yarn I remember most. I’ll never change that.

Grandma’s OrnamentsIMG_20121130_201007
What’s super cool about my little pre-lit tree is the fact that it was my grandma’s tree when she lived in assisted living. I also got a few of her ornaments after she passed away. My favorite is this clear bulb filled with snow and a piece of paper that says her name, “Rita.” I’m brought to tears when I put it on the tree, as I miss her so much that it hurts.

IMG_20121130_200430This year my other grandma was put into the nursing home. Just today my dad brought me a box of ornaments from my grandma’s attic. I’m so excited to add them to my collection, and I know they will always make me think of my grandma.

 

IMG_20121130_200903Ornaments Around the Globe
Within the past five years, I’ve started buying ornaments as mementos of my trips. When I was ina Niger, Africa in 2009, there were no ornaments to purchase. Not only is it a Muslim country, but it’s not a tourist destination. However, I did find a few keychains to buy, and I use one as an ornament.

On that same trip, I purchased an ornament on our long layover in Paris. Another one of my favorite ornaments from my travels is the one from Cozumel. I can’t wait to get an ornament in Zambia this summer!

New Ornaments
My parents know that I love me a cute moose. So when they went on an Alaskan IMG_20121130_201217cruise this past fall, they had lots of opportunities to get me something with a moose on it. Sure enough, I ended up with a moose ornament, and this handmade clay ornament is one of my new favorites!

My tree and ornaments may not be worth a lot of money, but I don’t care. You really couldn’t put a price on the memories and the sentimental value they have in my heart.