December 5th, 2020

The Christmas lights have gone up early


By Lethbridge Herald on November 14, 2020.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald
abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com
How early is too early when putting up Christmas lights and trees? It’s a question I’ve asked myself for many years because there are so many opinions on the subject.
When I lived across the border from Minnesota in the 1980s, the consensus seemed to be that Christmas wouldn’t even be mentioned until after American Thanksgiving. Being a border town with so much activity from sports to shopping being done stateside and many dual citizens in both Fort Frances and International Falls, it was a common sentiment.
But here farther away from the influence of the U.S., I’ve wondered if it really matters. Some people are vocal that Remembrance Day has to be a priority in November and that putting up Christmas decorations before Nov. 11 is sacrilege. To debate it publicly in normal circumstances would probably be like putting a match to gasoline.
But 2020 isn’t normal by any stretch of the imagination. This year is a tough one for so many who have lost jobs or family members due to COVID, or both. Our whole world has changed since the pandemic struck so is it really necessary to follow the unwritten convention of some?
I say nope. I put up my lights while the weather was still warm and dry, attaching strings of energy-efficient bulbs to the fence and deck using zip ties. I also strung them over the front door and through some shrubs, to let Christmas magic show itself brightly when darkness hits.
With numerous young children in the neighbourhood, including three across the street, I decided to light up the yard early this year to show the kids COVID isn’t going to cancel Christmas. Despite COVID, we can reason to celebrate the spirit of the season. This year, of all years, we need some light and levity in our lives and the joy that the lights have brought the three little girls across the street just makes me smile.
When the lights go on, I know those kids are going to be happy, perhaps the seniors in our neighbourhood, as well. Technically, I’m a senior, too but in the immortal words of Sammy Hagar “I don’t drive 55.” I’m sure the gracious officer who gave me a speeding ticket last week will attest to that. He might even say I don’t drive 60, either. And I can’t argue.
Our neighbourhood, being adjacent to an elementary school, is a diverse one with numerous school children and young families living in the vicinity. We also have a crew who have been in the area for decades. I’ve known one neighbour since we met at Leeside Elementary School in Cardston in Grade One, the two of us who became reacquainted decades later when my family moved across the street.
I went to school in Raymond briefly with the brother of another neighbour— who lives four doors down — before his family moved to Cardston. That neighbour just happens to be good friends with a cousin, whose family’s Shetland pony named Daisy or Clover or whatever used to viciously buck me off at the family farm near Whiskey Gap when we were kids. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
For a brief period in the 1990s, four of us Herald staffers all lived within two blocks of each other, three of us on the same street.
So between older folks and much younger ones, our area has a wide demographic and being on a corner lot, I have a yard that stands out. In fact, people still tell me they miss my rose garden out front which I had bull-dozed a couple of years ago because I got preoccupied — aka lazy — and it got out of control.
For me and many of my neighbours, putting up a light display has been an essential part of Christmas — after all nothing says the holiday season like frostbitten hands in November — and this year, I turned on the lights early for the kids.
Yes, it was before Remembrance Day but does that really matter to children? Should they have to wait to get excited about the wonderment and magic of Christmas because some think there is an unwritten rule that forbids it until a certain day?
The handmade thank-you card I was given the other day by one of the neighbour’s girls told me emphatically that turning on the lights now is the right thing to do. Despite the frigid cold outside, that card absolutely melted me.
Of any year, in 2020 is the year to light up our houses and yards early and magnificently because there have been too many stresses on old and young alike.
I may take some flak but the joy those dazzling bulbs bring to the youngsters every night is well worth lighting them up early. After all, Christmas is about, and for, the kids. Of all ages.
Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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