One of the trendy things when I worked in United Methodist youth camp was “Christmas in July.” Although not quite six months out, the idea was to inject some fun when it was starting to feel too hot out and, as evangelizing efforts go, to talk about Jesus. The origins of this tradition predate me, actually. Even secular camps were using the idea in the mid 1930s. By introducing the mystery of the unexpected, I suppose it might’ve helped to deal with camper homesickness, a perennial problem. It worked, in my experience, because nobody was really thinking about Christmas in July. It was a ploy. Just after the summer solstice, Christmas would have to wait until after the winter solstice to materialize. Now this past week we observed the autumnal equinox. I usually write a post about that, but I’ve been kind of distracted lately.
Over the weekend I had to head to a big box home goods store. I prefer to visit our local independent hardware store, but they don’t carry lumber and I needed some. I walked in to find the store decked out for Christmas in September. This was just a bit disturbing. It’s not even Halloween yet. In fact, it’s not even October! For many people in temperate regions autumn is their favorite season. Harvest themes, apple and pumpkins, turning leaves, falling leaves, and Halloween. Putting on the occasional sweater for the first time after a long and hot summer. Big boxes are leaping past all that to get to your Christmas bucks, even while you still have to mow the lawn when you get home.
Okay, so I’m not the only one to grouch about the premature appearance of Santa Claus and the extreme commercialization of Christmas. I know that Bethlehem is called “Christmas City,” but as we wandered to the Celtic Festival underway downtown, people were sweating in the eighty-degree heat. The leaves have begun to turn around here, reminding us all that Halloween and Thanksgiving are coming. The holiday season. I enjoy it as much as anybody else, but I don’t want to rush it. I suspect the internet has accustomed us to instant gratification. You want it? If you can type it and click on it, it can be at your doorstep in two days. You don’t need to wait for Christmas to catch up any more. Meanwhile our landfills overflow with the stuff we throw away from Christmases past. Christmas in July I think I get. Christmas in September is just a little too much.